Passionately Pursuing the Good Life

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Book Review: French Women Don't Get Fat by Mirelle Guilano

I know, I know. For the past few years since its publication, I too regularly rolled my eyes at the title. How useful can this be? Isn't the core of maintaining a healthy weight all about balance? And isn't every single new book published on the subject just another way of explaining balance?

Still...I was curious. And my curiosity was enhanced by a recent budding interest and fascination of all things French. A curiosity which I primarily blame this absurdly beautiful woman:

I mean, come on. There's just something about French women. When I see a photo like this of Audrey Tautou, I want to spill my life story to her over a luxurious and lengthy lunch at a bistro or cafe. When I see a photo of most Hollywood actresses, I want to give them a donut. Maybe two. French women may be thin, but not overly so. And there is a vibrancy to them which is often lacking in their American counterparts.

So, I picked up the book. Did I learn anything life shattering? No. But it was a fairly entertaining and moderately inspiring read. Here are a few highlights that I took away:

  • Eat produce that's in season, but also seek ways, rituals, and traditions that allow you to relish in how good fruits and vegetables are at the peak of their season. Connecting with your food starts by finding ways to truly get the maximum enjoyment from it.

  • Think outside the gym. French women don't (or rarely) slave away on heavy machinery at private gyms. They generally find the idea preposterous (time taken to get there, change clothing, wait for a machine...AND you have to pay for it!). Guilano observes that Americans tend to be either "sitting or spinning," and suggests we take a more French approach by finding ways to be active all day. And she swears by taking the stairs.

  • Drink water. Lots of it. This is a special challenge for me, as my favorite form of liquid comes from either coffee or wine. The book offers some helpful suggestions to making water a little more tolerable.

  • Eat, enjoy, and savor real food! Again, nothing shocking, but a simple reminder that just because something is packaged as "healthy" (hello, 100 calorie snack packs) doesn't mean they are good for you. French women don't eat a lot of processed foods.

  • No foods are forbidden. Forbidding food is very un-French. Eat the foods you love, take time to savor them, and make allowances in the meals that follow.

So there you have it. Now go get yourself a baguette!


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  2. The French do walk everywhere, the food may be rich but the portions are small and Americans complain if they don't get a huge plate full of food. BTW I love Audrey Tautou.