France has a lower obesity rate (11%) compared to the US (30%). France’s obesity rate actually used to be lower at only 5.5% in 1995. Experts say the increase is largely due to eating habits inspired by the US. Nevertheless, the French are still doing better than their American friends.
What helps the French maintain their weight and stay thin? It’s not a specific diet. Rather, it’s their lifestyle and culture.
1. A little breakfast
Traditionally, the French skip breakfast. In France, the word breakfast (déjeuner) actually refers to lunch, which is when they break their fast from the night before. Later on, the French got in the habit of having a croissant or some fruits with a cup of coffee in the morning. They created a new word for breakfast, basically, and called it “petit déjeuner” or “little breakfast.”
2. No snacking
Snacking is not a big thing in France. In fact, it is frowned upon and not part of eating habits taught to French children. Children eat three meals and only one snack at around 4 p.m. For the adults, lunch is their biggest meal, which sometimes drags on for hours and includes many courses, with lots of wine. They don’t usually consume snacks and only have little items, like fruits or yogurt, for dinner.
In the US, a lot of food items are supersized. Of course, the more food in front of you, it is more likely that you will try to consume it. In France, however, there are typically smaller portions and servings of food. These smaller portions have helped the French gain more control of eating.
4. Quality of ingredients
The French are very particular about their ingredients. They want them fresh, and they care a lot about where they are sourced. They have a deep understanding of the complex rules that govern certain food items in the country. For example, when it comes to wine, it would be unacceptable for someone to label a wine as champagne if the product is just sparkling wine from any other region than Champagne in the north of France.
5. Slow eating and socializing
In today’s fast-paced world, fast food joints have taken over and have overshadowed slow eating and socializing during meals. There is so much joy in having home-cooked meals and sharing them with family and friends for hours. This way of slow eating, typical of the French, also helps a person eat fewer calories and more healthy ingredients. Not to mention it can satisfy the soul.
6. Savoring the food
Americans are more obsessed with calorie-counting. When the French cook, however, they don’t fuss so much about the amount of butter or salt they use in their dishes. This is because they focus on the joy of eating and savoring their food. It is not about quantity; it is about quality. It’s also about savoring each bite and letting go of the guilt.
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