Book review: French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

French women must have magical powers. It seems they are somehow able to eat and drink whatever they want and still stay thin and healthy.

In French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, author Mireille Guiliano helps us understand their secret of enjoying local, seasonal and delicious food while still staying healthy and happy.

With spring approaching and summer on the horizon, it’s a good time to learn from the French and not go on a diet but change your eating habits for good.

Guiliano has a wonderful way with words and encourages, instead of puts down, readers to adopt a healthier eating style. Her book is filled with mouth-watering recipes and perspectives on the French mindset. She points out how a typical three-course meal in France can be healthy and enjoyable.

By eating local foods when they are in season and only consuming foods that you truly enjoy (yes, you can enjoy brussel sprouts), you can develop a healthy diet.

When you understand how to use a variety of seasonings, suddenly one healthy food can be prepared dozens of ways and taste new and fresh each time.

By learning what foods to buy in each season and how to cook them properly, a whole new world is opened up.

The typical American diet is changing eating habits temporarily like excluding bread, sweets or alcohol for a few weeks or months until the ‘goal weight’ is achieved.

Once the goal is accomplished, the normal eating habits resume and the weight is often put back on.

These ‘yo-yo’ diets don’t really do anyone good in the long term. Since it is only temporary, often with a strict goal weight and overly optimistic deadline, a lot of stress can be created which makes the body even unhealthier.

While eventually the weight may be lost, it is only a number – not an actual way to judge the person’s health or happiness.

The best cheese in the world…. sun-melted brie!

According to Guiliano, French women don’t usually go on diets. By creating life-long healthy eating habits, they learn to enjoy the foods that are good for their body.

They do enjoy multi-course meals, but they are small portions.

Bread is a common side to a meal, but when eaten with vegetables, it is a necessary component to stay full until the next meal.

Wine is often consumed with lunch, but not in excess.

Chocolate is a common dessert and they don’t feel guilty about.

The French lifestyle is also very active. They don’t go out on runs or to the gym as much as Americans do. They mix in their exercise with their daily life.

Instead of driving a car around town, they rent a bike. Many cities in France have community bike sharing programs.

The streets in France (and Europe in general) are filled with more people than in the US. While Americans clog up the roads with cars, Europeans are taking to the streets, saving money and getting active by walking. Each little walk from store to store or work to home or through the public transportation system burns calories. Little by little and over the course of a day, month and year, those numbers add up and make French women able to eat to their enjoyment while staying healthy.

The French mindset and approach to eating, drinking and dining is very inspiring and Guiliano makes a wonderful case for adopting healthy, French-influenced eating habits.

To read more about France’s community bike sharing programs, check out Vélos Vert: Green Bike-Sharing in France, an article I wrote for Savoir Faire Abroad.

Let your mouth water and take a look through my international recipes.

Bellinghamsters, if you want to try cooking with new foods, try the stores on my list of international food shops in Bellingham, Washington.

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