Tag Archives: french

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

French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano is a fabulously simple concept of enjoying quality over quantity in whatever you eat…or do. With over 265 pages of tips, tricks, recipes and hilariously helpful stories, Guiliano shares the secrets of her healthy heritage, while convincing you to drop whatever fad diet you might be most recently deceived by.

Guiliano is a high-power, working woman and best-selling international author, who grew up in France and is at the top of her game as the CEO of an American branch of a French company. She talks about being an exchange student in high school and coming to America, where she picked up much of the typical American high school food fare, along with the pounds to go with it. After returning to France, she worked with a Dr. Meyer (whom she refers to as “Dr. Miracle” throughout the book) to regain her ideal body weight and lead a healthfully satisfying life of enjoying food, fitness, friends and family.

She talks about basic concepts like eating smaller portions of higher quality ingredients, making sure you have a good variety (recommending at least 20-30 different types of food each day, so you get a full gamut of nutrients), not depriving yourself, eating slowly and mindfully, and shopping daily and at local markets as much as possible, so you get the freshest, in season, local ingredients.

She also recommends drinking plenty of water, keeping moving (even if it’s just walking, stairs, and a few light weights), getting proper sleep (not too much, not too little), and adding yogurt to your daily menu. And over and over again she says, “Faites simple,” meaning, “Keep it simple.”

Here are some of my favorite moments from the book:

  • “Consider all the things you consume regularly. Which of them is giving you real pleasure and which are you having to pointless excess? One thing French women know is that the pleasure of most foods is in the first few bites; we rarely have seconds” (p. 31).
  • “Part of living like a French woman, then, will mean searching out and paying a bit more for quality, whether at the open-air market or at least a good grocery shop with market suppliers. …French women live on budgets, too, but they also understand the value of quality over quantity” (p. 77).
  • “Visual variety, color, and presentation are underestimated factors in food pleasure” (p. 119).
  • “French women know any regimen you can’t maintain for long stretches of life is bound to fail you, just as they know that boredom, not food, is the enemy” (p. 206). “For me, walking remains the ultimate time for freedom of thought” (p. 210). “The body spends about 60 calories an hour sleeping; if you swim, you’ll do better at 430 calories; but climbing stairs consumes a stunning 1,100 calories per hour. Vive l’escalier!” (p. 211).
  • “The only purpose of withholding some pleasure is so we can more fully enjoy everything else for having it in proper balance” (p. 224). “Our troubles with weight have as much to do with our attitudes toward eating as they do with what we are ingesting. We are seeing a growing psychosis that I believe actually adds stress to our already stressful way of life. It is fast erasing the simple values of pleasure” (p. 225).
  • Speaking of laughter: “It’s both a physical and psychic pleasure: it is relaxing, stimulating, liberating, and sensual. It’s a pleasant response to emotion that heightens the emotion itself” (p. 228). “Marcel Pagnol believed that God gave laughter to human beings as consolation for being intelligent. I prefer to believe he made us intelligent so we could appreciate a good laugh” (p. 229).
  • “The answer is never ‘dieting’ in the American sense, but rather little alterations made steadily over time. So when we do lose the excess weight, not only does the effort seem painless, the results are much more likely to last. If my fellow Americans could adopt even a fraction of the French attitude about food and life (don’t worry, you don’t have to sign on to the politics, too), managing weight would cease to be a terror, an obsession, and reveal its true nature as part of the art of living” (p. 252).

I highly recommend this book if you are trying to lose weight for the first time…or if you have given up and need this to be the last time you lose weight…or if you just want a few good tips and recipes to spice up your weekly menu repertoire. Fortunately, I took French in high school and still remember un petit peu (since she likes to throw in some of her native phrases), but even if you don’t know French, she translates most of her phrases for you…and then, there’s always Google translate for the ones she doesn’t. A quick read, and a relief to the typical American trying to become healthier. So, pick up this book, adjust your attitude about food, and then adjust your lifestyle and start enjoying the good gifts of fabulous cuisine. Bon Appetit! 

Review: “Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution”

I wrote this post for the Milk and Honey Organics Blog and wanted to share it here too.

I recently came across a documentary made in France about a community that made the decision to provide organic lunches in all of the schools in their region. They brought in scientists and medical professionals and shared with the community about the benefits of local, organic products and the dangers of chemicals and pesticides in our food and water supplies, directly linking several diseases and cancers to the use of pesticides and other chemicals.

Also, within these schools, the children help with an organic garden to teach them how to grow and care for vegetables organically, as well as how to prepare them. Many of the families decide to “go organic” at home too. They found that their food budgets did not increase much; instead, they only bought the things they needed, opting for quality over for quantity, which, in the long run, was also good for their quality of life and health.

It’s an intriguing watch! If you’re interested in a clip, there is one available on YouTube. If you would like to watch the entire video, it runs just under 2 hours and can be watched via Instant Queue on Netflix or you can order it on Amazon.com for around $20. Enjoy the beautiful French landscapes, while experiencing another culture and learning more about organic living!

Some of my favorite quotes from the film include:

“We took our own stance, and are trying, today, to spread it. People throw the cost at us. But you can’t put a price on health. …You don’t listen to the accountant first. You listen first to your conscience. That’s the thing” ~Mayor of the Community that chose to go Organic.

“Do you manage to eat completely organic?” “Not everything? 100% is impossible. Well, it’s possible, but…” “I’ve stopped buying things that I don’t need. So that’s one effect.” “I prefer consuming in this way. I don’t feel such a sucker.” “Exactly! And you’re protecting yourself.” “You reali[z]e some things are unnecessary. As we’re in a society which eats too much, it can’t do us any harm to eat a bit less” ~Two mothers in the district.

“Farming all arable land according to organic precepts would produce enough to feed mankind” ~FAO Report May 2007.

“We have to stop poisoning the earth, the air and our food, with the false excuse that we’re feeding mankind, when in fact we’re starving mankind! This is why we need a total overhaul of the dominant agricultural model to conserve our health and the environment. I assert that we can produce in a different and sustainable way, healthy food in sufficient quantities, with economic performances well superior to industrial methods, if we’d stop replacing peasants [farm workers] with chemical molecules” ~Philippe Desbrosses, PhD in Environmental Studies.

“On average, for a lot of products from intensive industrial farming, you could multiply by three or four the price on the label. They get generous subsidies for producing in that way. The cost of cleaning up pollution, the health costs, the economic cost when there’s overproduction, prices plummet and they demand compensation… All those costs are externali[z]ed, they’re not added to the price, but they’re carried over to your taxes. If they put the real cost on the label, these seemingly cheap products would be more expensive than organic. This needs to be said loud and clear!” ~An educator and speaker.

“As for the children, their palates need educating. We don’t only eat organic, but it’s perfectly easy to go organic. It’s not more expensive. It just means paying attention to what you eat. Being aware” ~A father in the district.