You may wondering what in the world I am about to reveal to you after reading that headline. But the truth is, the French have been doing something for a long time that allows women to stay sleek and slender, and men to stay lean and defined.
With obesity on a steady rise in the U.S., what is this secret that French men and women know that we don’t?
When you think about what French people eat, what comes to mind? Chocolate, croissants, cheese, breads, fine wines, strong coffee, … But somehow they are able to stay lean!
After some extensive research, there were more than a few reasons why the French are able to stay lean year after year.
First, I would like to show you an excerpt from nutrition expert Nick Pinealt’ program ‘The Truth About Fat Burning Foods‘:
“It’s 12:15 pm in Paris.
Outside in the narrow street, you can hear the clicking sound that a pair of high heels makes on the beautiful stone pavement.
Click, clack. Click, clack. Click, clack.
Down the alley goes a French girl in her late thirties. Slim, sexy and petite, her short dress fits her perfectly – with none of the usual embarrassing fat hanging everywhere.
Behind her walks a handsome man that looks like he’s in his 30s but he’s really in his late 40s or early 50s, judging by his short salt and pepper hair.
His fitted black shirt clearly reveals a toned, muscular body, free of any of the usual beer belly, love handles and man boobs you would sadly expect from any American man at that age.
They both enter a small café to indulge in their favorite lunchtime foods after skipping “breakfast”.
A strong black coffee, some pieces of fruits, fatty cheese and a croissant with butter – all foods that will help them burn fat and keep their lean body.
YES, you heard it right!
Thousands and thousands of these people SKIP breakfast in the morning, eat some of their favorite carbs with butter at lunch, and basically break all the rules…
Yet, they STILL stay lean year in and year out?”
-Nick Pineault, The Truth About Fat Burning Foods
That’s right. Many of the French do something known as Intermittent Fasting. This has become wildly popular in the previous few years and for good reason. When done right, this allows your body to easily burn fat while maintaining a lean physique year round.
Now this is not a nutrition approach that drastically cuts calories. We all know that not getting enough calories is horrible for your body and brain. What intermittent fasting does, is shorten your eating window to 8-10 hours. So instead of eating all day from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, you eat the same amount of food as you normally would in an 8-10 hour window.
Next, over and over during my research I kept reading that the French eat for pleasure. In an interview I read with expert author Mireille Guiliano, she stated that,
“Guilt about eating is what really has ruined food for American women. There’s so much guilt and sin associated with food. French women, instead, eat with all five senses,” she says.
Guiliano found this to be true when she moved to the United States for college. She said that instead of eating food for pleasure, she started eating when she was stressed, in a hurry, or crunched for time.
And when you think about it, Americans are always stressed, in a hurry, and crunched for time. This is a disaster waiting to happen when trying to enjoy the foods you eat.
As Americans, many of us find ourselves forcing down an egg McMuffin on our morning commute and a big mac on the ride home.
When we choose to eat for pleasure instead of just eating to eat, we start providing our bodies with better nutrients and foods.
Think about it: when you make time to really sit down and enjoy a meal, what do you typically eat? For myself and my wife, we have a delicious homemade salad, BBQ chicken or a grass fed steak, and some grilled sweet potatoes.
Solution: What you eat is NOT supposed to make you feel guilty, it is supposed to be enjoyed! So enjoy the foods you eat. Keep in mind, burning fat is not about how many calories you cut, it is simply about eating the right foods! Don’t focus on cutting calories, focus on eating lots of good food.
Along those same lines, many of the French make eating a special time. A time to enjoy the food, drink, and company. What this does is allow them to focus on what they are eating instead of mindlessly eating as most Americans do.
More and more families are spending their time eating meals in front of the TV. Although this may seem innocent, what you don’t realize is that you could be consuming more food than you know.
In a study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers founds that “distracted eaters” could end up eating close to 25% more than they normally would just by being distracted.
Although they know what they are eating, they don’t realize how much they have eaten.
Solution: Make eating a time that you enjoy with family and friends, and be mindful of what you are putting in your body. For example, my morning cup of coffee is something I absolutely love to have. I savor every sip.
Too many times, however, I find myself in other areas just eating to eat. Enjoy the foods you eat, and watch as the fat melts away!
In the same interview with Mireille Guiliano, she pointed out that the French really focus on meal preparation… And do it quite often.
She points out that many American families go to the store 2 times per month, while families in France will go 2-3 times per week.
“French women love to shop and prepare food. They love to talk about what they have bought and made. It’s a deeply natural love, but one that is erased in many other cultures. Most French women learn it from their mothers, some from their fathers. But if your parents aren’t French, you can still learn it yourself.”
She says the reason this is important is because when you prepare food for dinner the night before, you will then be able to have leftovers for lunch the next day.
Plus, if you only shop twice per month, chances are the majority of your foods are filled with preservatives which we know can be detrimental to your health.
My wife and I shop 1-2 times per week, and prepare all our food on Sundays. The food we cook on Sunday’s will cover lunches and dinners until Friday of that week.
We always make sure, however, that we cook at least one other time during the week and enjoy a freshly cooked meal!
By going to the store more often, you are able to purchase food that is more fresh.
This is the next reason you see the French staying fit: they focus on eating fresh and natural foods!
This includes fruits, veggies, cheeses, meats, etc. Because of their love for food, they don’t settle for preservative filled junk food or fast food.
This is a very easy fix: buy foods that are mainly one ingredient, and the more fresh they are the better!
As you can see, there are some drastic differences between the way that the French culture eats compared to the American culture.
With life always being so “busy” you may be wondering how on earth you will be able to change your eating habits from fast food to fresh food, from rushed to relaxed, and from bad to great…
The solution is quite easy. Let’s recap:
- Eat when you are hungry and until you are satisfied.
- Enjoy the foods you eat. Food is supposed to make you feel good not guilty. Savor each bite and use all five senses when you eat.
- Make eating a time you enjoy with family and friends. Don’t eat mindlessly in front of the TV. Socialize and enjoy.
- Start eating fresh foods. Shop more often and eat foods that are one ingredient.
- Enjoy it… Did I say that already? Food is essential no matter what your goals are. And really keep in mind that your body needs lots of food in order to function. Don’t drastically cut calories or go on some crazy crash diet. This will only bring you slowed results and low energy. Instead eat lots of wonderful foods and enjoy each bite!
That is really all there is to it. Now go out and live life to the fullest.