Eat to Stay Slim By Monica
French Women Stay Slim (Without Starving)
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We Americans love
to eat. We love our fast food, greasy diners, food courts, all-you-can eat
buffets, and just about anything out-of-the box or on-the-go. Yesterday my
coworker and I needed a little pick-me-up, so we headed across the street to
the our local specialty coffee shop for a delectable treat: an ice-blended
mocha with ground chocolate-covered espresso beans, an extra shot of espresso,
and topped off with whipped creamyum!
gratification that comes from being able to get exactly what we want exactly
when we want it does have its drawbacks. Consider these facts:
getting fatter. Over 64 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or
obese, up from 48% in 1980.
- We're not
exercising. Over 60% of U.S. adults are not regularly active and 25% are
not active at all.
dieting like crazy. About 50 million U.S. adults go on diets each year for
The guilt (not to
mention brain freeze) I felt after slurping down that 600-calorie drink before
I even got back to my desk is something I'm sure many people can identify with.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
In her best-selling new
book, French Women Don't Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano examines the French
"traditional" approach to eating and provides us with useful tips for
rethinking our very American "all or nothing" approach. We're either loading up
on super-sized portions or trying to cut out entire food groups (remember
account is highly romanticized (the French may have an edge, but their
overweight and obesity rates have also doubled since the 1980s), there are some
things we can learn from the French and from people in other parts of the
world, especially the Mediterranean and Asia, where obesity rates have been
historically low. In these areas, good, healthy eating and fitness have
traditionally been integrated with their lifestyle. Here are a few specific
practices we Americans would do well to follow:
- Start with soup or
salad. The Japanese tradition of starting with soup is a great
weight loss trick. Less-calorie-dense foods like soups and salads are also the
most healthful way to fill up so you eat less during your meal.
- Select the
highest quality ingredients. The French wouldn't dream of eating
processed "diet foods" not found in nature. Instead they feel it is their
God-given right to select only the highest-quality produce, fish, meat, and
dairy. And by only buying what's in season, they add seasonal excitement to
their dishes and maintain a diverse and varied diet all year long. You'll find
that the more fresh and flavorful your food is, the less you'll need to eat to
feel completely sated.
- Don't multitask meals. In most of
Europe, you can't take your food to go. For instance, Italians can get
delicious panini sandwiches right at the gas station, but would never deign to
eat and drive at the same time. Instead, they sit down right at the station and
chat with other diners, and the same goes for how they consume their little cup
of morning espresso. By taking the time to focus on what you're eating, you'll
enjoy it more, and more quickly register when you're full.
- Splurge if you want
to. The French aren't known to deny themselves dessert and will
insist that it be the richest, most divine ambrosia. Did you know that rich,
dark chocolate actually contains heart-healthy antioxidants, making it a
deliciously healthy (well, somewhat) and satisfying way to cap off your meal?
If you go for it, make it a reasonable size, slowly savor each bite, and don't
let yourself feel guilty about it.
From my own experience,
I agree that Americans can learn from other countries' approaches to eating.
Growing up overweight, I found that the easiest weight I ever lost was during a
summer I spent with relatives on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Each
morning, we'd ride our bikes to the market for fresh bread. Then we'd play at
the beach for a few hours before our two-hour lunch that always began with
soup. Finally, we'd have a light dinner before going out at night. I lost a ton
of weight without even trying or noticing.
at the beach all day and lingering over two-hour meals isn't really an option
for most working Americans. Yet, there are things we can do. While it might be
impossible to visit an open-air market on a daily basis, it is possible to
select the highest-quality, nonprocessed ingredients during your weekly visits.
While it might be difficult to weave fitness into our daily lives, it is
possible to find at least 20 minutes during your day to pop in a video and
Press Play. I'll do the Turbo Jam 20 Minute Workout when I'm short on
time, and I find that getting my heart pumpingeven if it's only for 20
minutesdoes wonders for my overall health and well-being. And the next time I
need a late afternoon pick-me-up, I'll think about what the French woman from
Guiliano's book might order, and opt for a delightful cappuccino
Monica Ciociola is
the Director of Marketing for Beachbody.