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Fri Apr 13, 2012, 09:20 PM

Question About French Eating Habits/Diet vs. Americans

Okay,I am sure I am not the first person to ask this question but what is it with the French and their diet? They eat fatty foods,breads,sweets,etc, and still keep their weight down and live longer than us. I am trying to change my eating habits and am thinking about buying a very simple and basic French cook book.I know they control their portions than we do here in the US but that can't be it.Any theories on how the French can get around eating what they want?

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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply Question About French Eating Habits/Diet vs. Americans (Original post)
romantico Apr 2012 OP
Arkansas Granny Apr 2012 #1
Major Nikon Apr 2012 #2
Odin2005 Apr 2012 #3
elleng Apr 2012 #4
DFW Apr 2012 #5
romantico Apr 2012 #7
tjwmason Apr 2012 #6
Spider Jerusalem Apr 2012 #8
pink-o Apr 2012 #9
LineNew Reply I
romantico Apr 2012 #10
geardaddy Apr 2012 #11
jakeXT Apr 2012 #12
romantico Apr 2012 #13
VenusRising Apr 2012 #14
riderinthestorm Apr 2012 #15

Response to romantico (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 09:53 PM

1. I don't have any answers, but I wonder how much of their diet consists of fast foods and

soft drinks. Also, is HFCS used in as many of their food products as we find in the US? IMO, those 3 things and our lack of exercise is the biggest factor in our obesity problem.

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 10:36 PM

2. Much of it has to do with activity levels

The French have a much different outlook on such things as Americans. They walk a lot more. They view elevators as only for the disabled. They often eat fairly large evening meals, often much later than Americans, but their breakfast and lunches are usually pretty small.

The French also do have some issues with being overweight and obesity, particularly in the suburbs, but not nearly to the extent as in America.

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 02:24 AM

3. Wine and unprocessed food.

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 03:05 AM

4. They walk,

and wine consumption may have something to do with it.

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 04:58 AM

5. I'm in France once a week.

I usually eat lunch with the locals from our office there.

Their big meal of the day is usually at mid-day, not at night. They use FAR less processed foods than we do.
France was always an agricultural country and restaurant chefs get up early to shop for fresh produce, as well
as meat and fish, every day that they are open. They walk EVERYWHERE, and their idea of a relaxing weekend is
going somewhere where they can walk, hike, or do SOMETHING that involves physical activity.

Their portions of food are usually smaller than ours, too. What you leave on your plate in a restaurant in France
is seldom enough to take home in a doggy bag. Controlling their portions DOES make a difference. Those long
mid-day meals gives the digestive system time to signal to the brain that you ARE full, and don't need any more
food. This is a problem I have, as it takes me 15 to 20 minutes to feel full after a small meal. If I don't watch it,
I think I'm still starving when in reality I've had enough food for my system to be happy. Some people--many,
actually-- don't get the signal from their stomach right away that it is full, and keep on eating long after you
have had enough. Boom, you get fat. But sit down and take your time at the table, have a nice relaxing conversation,
and suddenly you realize that the modest portion you had 20 minutes ago WAS, TOO, enough to fill you up.
Get distracted by the leisurely conversation and your system has the time to get the message to the brain.
Eat a harried 40 minute fast food lunch, and you have no chance.

I have serious cholesterol issues, and so have to keep a sharp eye on what I eat. Although not French, my wife
is from another European country with traditional fatty food (Germany). After my cardiac near-miss 8 years ago,
she made the transition to cooking with olive oil instead of butter, and cutting out all meat except poultry and fish.
It worked, and I'm still here. We take long walks every weekend, and when I'm at work in cities, I try to walk
everywhere (like most Europeans do) instead of taking the metro or a taxi for short distances.

That's basically how they do it.

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Response to DFW (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:36 AM

7. Thanks!

I remember when I saw that Julia Child movie with Meryl Streep I thought about how her and her husband lived to 90 and ate all these rich fatty foods. I think they also don't rush like we do. I know I often forget about lunch and when I remember I want to get something fast,which usually ends up being fast food. Seems like they savour each bite and eat slow and appreciate their meal. They socialize and the wine probably does wonders for the heart. Thanks again for the replies!

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 06:17 AM

6. Balance

Nothing to excess.

If you like chocolate (for example) that's fine, but it doesn't mean that you eat a pound bar of it in one sitting.

Portion size is what's needed rather than as much as one can eat.

Far far less highly processed food.

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:59 AM

8. Smaller portions, balanced diets, more active lifestyles

fewer soft drinks and sweets and processed foods with added sugar/HFCS. America is the land of the all you can eat buffet and the Super Value Meal and the Big Gulp.

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 11:53 AM

9. As others have stated, it's all about portion size.

Yes, the French walk a lot more, and don't eat packaged, processed foods like we do, but I think you're asking how they can eat foie gras, butter and all those sauces without it affecting their weight. And that ones down to eating less of them!

In the US, we really don't realize how out of control the portions have gotten. We eat cheap food with lots of filler, no nutrition, and we eat a lot of it! Better to have a small square of dark chocolate washed down with a nice glass of Pinot Noir, than a whole Costco-sized bag of mini Hershey bars and a 2 liter bottle of Coke!

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 10:15 AM

10. I

Dinner takes a fewI've been hearing on other forums that in Europe that they take longer to eat dinner. They socialize,eat slowly,and just take their time. Here in the USA we eat dinner in about 5 minutes because we got places to go and people to see.Plus we snack a lot(God knows I do)I wonder if the French snack and munch like us.I know when I am on the computer I have a candy jar where I munch. Then after dinner I snack while watching tv/movies. Ugh!

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 10:37 AM

11. Lots more fresh vegetables and fruits.

and smaller meat portions. The fiber in the fresh veggies and fruit fill you up faster.

That, along with as others have said, lengthier/more relaxed meal times and more activity.

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 03:59 PM

12. interesting

However, Catheline says urbanization, immigration and globalization are moving France away from its eating traditions. Many young people are no longer interested in learning how to cook, he says, and the ritual of mealtimes is being forgotten. As a result, obesity is growing. Nearly 14 percent of the French adult population is now obese, compared with 8 percent just 10 years ago. Though these rates are still half those of the United States, the French government isn't taking it lightly.

The national obesity plan includes hip television ads encouraging people to eat the right foods, take the stairs and not to snack between meals. Vending machines have been removed from schools.
http://www.npr.org/2011/08/06/139042221/the-french-are-getting-fatter-too
#

The average French meal has decreased in length from an hour and 22 minutes in 1978 to just 38 minutes today.(2005)
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/03/world/europe/03iht-obese.html?pagewanted=all

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 10:24 AM

13. That

That is interesting.We can all learn from the French I suppose.

I asked this question to a friend of mine the other day and he recommended this book.

http://www.amazon.com/French-Paradox-Beyond-Mediterranean-Lifestyle/dp/0962527114/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334672620&sr=1-1-spell

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 10:46 AM

14. Maybe look into the book French Women Don't Get Fat.

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Response to romantico (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 11:17 AM

15. Isn't it leisurely stretching out glasses of wine (instead of eating lg portions) and smoking?

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