Years ago I had the pleasure of spending two weeks in France. The first stop was Paris then to Nice and the French Riviera. The general view of the lack of overweight women in France is true. While I was there I allowed myself to indulge in all the tasty treats that the French had to offer and I realized that I did not gain an ounce while I was there.
To be fair, my French diet was accompanied by intensive sightseeing which consisted about 2-4 hours of walking per day. Therefore that entire baguette I ate for lunch did not make a dent in my weight. I did notice some great habits that the French have that you can incorporate into your diet that will help with weight loss.
They do spend hours eating– When they sit down to a two hour lunch or dinner, they do not eat more food than normal, they just take longer to eat it. Taking it slow and allowing yourself to eat slowly, keeps you full longer.
There is no snacking between meals- Very rarely do the French eat between meals. Another beauty of the long dinner is that here is no time to snack in between. There are also several flavor components to each meal, that virtually every craving is satisfied.
They do not stack their sandwiches- We come from a super size culture, where more is is better. In France the bread is phenomenal, from the traditional baguette to crusty grainy breads or great olive fugasse. When you make a sandwich though there is a thin layer of eats or eggs or tuna, but the bread remains the main factor. The best meals we had were assembled by ingredients we found in markets and ate at home.
There are several flavors in every dish- A great example off this is a Nicoise Salad. It is indigenous to the south of France but can be found everywhere in France. It is typically a large salad filled with vegetables, tuna in olive oil, olives and hard boiled eggs. The textures and flavors in this one meal is very satisfying and filled with fiber and protein.
Try these tips in making your next sandwich at home, they offer bursts of flavors and fewer calories:
Choose a great crusty grain bread and pull out inside, unless you are using sliced bread.
Choose your protein, salami, tuna, chicken or even a hard boiled egg. Add only one thin layer of any of the proteins.
Dress your sandwich with tapenade, grilled peppers or marinated eggplant.
Add the egg white of a hard boiled egg to any sandwich, trust me I TRIED IT.
The secret is to experiment with powerful flavors rather than quantity. It will be more pleasurable and much more satisfying. Take it slow and savor every bite. VIVA LA FRANCE!
-Fiorella DiCarlo RD, RDN, CDN