Why are French women so slim?

I keep getting Vogue articles on my Facebook feed with this title and it is doing my head in.   I don’t think that we should be fed this kind of blether by our anti-social media.  Anyhow, in this article I would like to reveal a few rules that they live by which seem to give them a very positive attitude to food.

And a positive attitude to food helps towards having a positive attitude to life n’est ce pas?

First of all, French women are not all so slim.  Any French woman will arch her beautiful eyebrows and tell you that.

I do sometimes have this conversation with my friends.  As normal lady people they are generally mystified by this particular stereotype.

So first things first:  French women are lovely and they do come in all shapes and sizes like in every other country in the world.  There might be statistically more slim people in France than elsewhere but lets say that having lived here for the past fifteen years I think it is a stereotype – a bit like all Irish people are leprechauns.

Although it is true that we all believe in fairies.  Or at least I do.  Moving on.

However I think that generally speaking the French only half realise it but they have lots of rules.  And as long as they stick to those rules they generally don’t worry too much.  The rules are as wide as your average French boulevard and allow lots of fun and everybody sticks to them, so they seem to work.

Eight key ones just in case you are curious.

1. Enjoy your food

  • Relish the moment, eat slowly and discuss what you are eating.  Enjoy the flavour, savour it and take your time.
    • This seems strange but I wonder if it might have something to do with digestion – like maybe the slower you eat the more time you have to get the sensation of being full hence the less you eat (?)

2. No snacking

  • Don’t snack between meals.  Eat big meals at breakfast, lunchtime and dinner but don’t fergodsake snack in between.
    • sidenote:  it is tough at the beginning but there are ways to get used to it
    • See here for tips on how to survive your first few weeks in France Ah G’wan!!!

3. Have entrees and desserts but base them on fresh staples and vary the f out of it

  • Typical meal with friends or out at resto
    • Entree: melon with ham OR small salady thing
    • Plat Principal: meat/fish with veg (not necessarily spuds !!)
    • Fromage: a few wee bits of smelly cheese with some bread, glug plenty of wine
    • Dessert: wee bit of cake or some fruit
    • Digestif: Chartreuse / Whisky etc.
  • So lots of courses with not so much quantity – probably easier to digest
  • And plenty of wine bien sur

4. Peel your fruitDSC04608

  • Actually I have no idea whether or why this makes any difference.  But about two thirds of the people I know have fruit as dessert and spend time preparing it, they will invariably
    • Peel their apples and cut them up
    • Rinse their grapes carefully
    • Tear apricots in half
    • Peel peaches
    • and so on
  • Here I think it might be the slow food thing again that makes one realise one has eaten enough, what-ho!

5. Peel fruit in front of kids

  • A tip here which seems to work like magic – kids seem to like watching you peel fruit
  • We do this thing every evening after dinner where they each pick their fruit from the fruit basket and then we peel it in front of them
    • It seems to hypnotise them and then they munch contentedly
    • Disadvantage to this approach: it is outright war if there is no fruit left, our ones do this Children of the Corn thing where their eyes expand around to their ears and they moan “J’ai trop faim”.  They are of course secretly hoping that we will bend to their will and give them some cheese.  So far they are on a fifty-fifty success rate.DSC04606

6. Be aware of the past and the future eats

  • Like for e.g.: if you went all out last night you might avoid dessert today

7. Fill wine glasses up to about one-fifth

  • In Ireland we fill up wine glasses a bit like the way we might pints of beer
  • In France they fill up glasses up to about one-fifth the glass
    • I regularly break this rule as I am Irish after all and we do have our rebellious side n’est ce pas?

8. Synchronise with the seasons as best you can

  • There are proper seasons in France, summer is boiling hot and winter is feckin cold
  • French people generally tend to eat fruit and vegetables that are in season
  • They know the fruit and veg calendar by heart (yours truly is still learning)
  • I think this helps because you appreciate the cherries and apricots when they come (they are nearly like sweets for the kids, nearly I said)DSC04618


I have been here so long I don’t know if the above list seems crazy or not, but for me it leaves so much room for interpretation that you don’t get stressed out about it.  Also as there are no food smells in town in the afternoon and as you don’t see other people eating, you don’t get very hungry.  And you generally feel quite energised due to eating lots of fruit and vegetables (despite yourself in my case).

Anyway the morale of the story is that people spend a large percentage of their day enjoying food.  And their relationship with food is generally very positive.  There is a lovely phrase in French “péché mignon” which means weakness.  But literally translated means “cute sin”.  And people talk about their “péché mignon” food wise which just makes it cute out.  Even if they are scarfing their third helping of cherry pie.

Jamie Oliver probably hit the nail on the head when he went around schools in England improving the canteen food.  Any action to improve a country’s attitude to food requires everybody to engage fully, and education slash brainswahsing is essential.   Yummy food also helps alot probably.

All this talking about food has me hungry.  Er.

Disclaimer: I miss Dairy Milk, potatoes and yer oul Irish fry terribly



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