Many of you may have heard of the French paradox. In spite of eating much fatty foods, they don’t often get fat. In a typical day in Paris with the traditional French diet, you would start out with a light breakfast of bread or croissant, butter, and jam. For lunch, usually the biggest meal of the day, you would have cold cuts, or pâté, followed by a main dish of usually red meat or poultry, with legumes and vegetables, generally followed by a small salad. You would then eat small servings of a cheese course, and dessert, which is often fresh fruit. Dinner is usually similar to lunch, but smaller.
Broken down, their menu consists of about 35-40% fat. Their fiber intake is relatively low compared to other European countries, where they consume fewer cereals, nuts, beans, and rice. How, scientists have been wondering for years could the French remain relatively slim and healthy? What is their secret?
First, they eat daily fresh produce, and eat raw salads toward the end of their meals, maximizing digestive enzymes, anti-oxidants and phytonutrients. Next, unlike us, they don’t gobble down fast food while watching TV or racing to the next errand or job. They eat mindfully and joyfully, in a relaxed manner and with the whole family dining together. They lovingly prepare their food fresh, eat slowly, and eat a variety of delicious food in small quantities, so they don’t feel deprived. They also walk often, buying the ingredients for their meals that day from fresh, organic markets.
Take these tips from the tradtional French and eat mindfully:
- Enjoy and appreciate fresh foods daily with ample, organic vegetables and fruits.
- Train yourself to eat slowly, particularly in the evening, a common time for overeating. Just before starting the evening meal, set a timer for at least forty-five minutes to an hour. If you have finished over half your meal in half that time, slow down. Feel free to take longer than an hour if you wish. French families may spend two or three hours at dinner.)
- Focus on your food first, conversation second. Chew slowly, enjoying each morsel.
- Try new foods.
- Don’t deprive yourself, but eat what you love in moderation, keeping portions small to fit the size of your stomach (the size of your fist)
- Eat a raw, colorful salad toward the end of your meal.
- Make eating a total sensory experience. For instance, you might display flowers and burn candles while soft music plays.
- Eat with your family and enjoy those around you. Do not turn on the TV!
- Sit quietly for a few minutes after eating, then take a leisurely stroll.
(Nutritionist, Life Coach and Director of MVB-Health)
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