dimanche 25 mars 2007

As many people know, French people in general, are a lot thinner than Americans in general. After living here for over a year and a half, I think I have discovered the secret to why.

Prepare yourself for a shocking revelation.....


It is a very complicated, controversial diet....

I will try to explain the different tenants of it as best as I can.

Okay, here is the first one.
Eat when hungry.

Whoa!!! Shocking.. Okay, now we have that one out of the way, it was a warm-up for the second rule.
Don't eat when not hungry.

And finally, Rule 3
Move a little more.

It is true. I haven't read the book "Frenchwomen don't get fat" but here are some of things that I have noticed. The French
1) Don't drink as much calorie drinks- especially soda. In general, it seems to be water, water flavored lightly with syrups, water mixed with juice, and wine. Soda is generally regarded as a drink for kids and/or when you are sick (carbonation for the stomach). It does seem to be growing in popularity, but definetely not up to the 1 a Day standard in the US.
2) Don't snack. There are a lot less snack foods- chips, pretzels, etc. in the aisles. When you go over to someone's house for dinner, they may be offered as an appetizer but most French do not seem to eat them in the afternoons/early evenings, or after dinner. When watching TV you do not need a bowl of potato chips by your side.
3) Have a well-rounded meal. "Dessert" often is a yogurt or a piece of fruit.
4) Save those special foods for those special times. Enjoy them during the holiday. Don't eat them the rest of the year. Look forward to having them again.
5) Move! Walk to the grocery store and the bakery. Haul those grocery bags and baby carriage up the three flights of stairs.
6) I also believe that French society does not, in a way, make it "easy" to be overweight. Seats are small. Clothes are small. Really, in a country where if you are over a size 10 you feel to be on the heavy side, it has a large impact. I have not once seen an obese French person.

“The French fashion industry found that the average French woman today is just over 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 137.6 pounds. (BMI 24.4- normal) In comparison, the average American woman is 5 feet 4 and weights 164.3 pounds (BMI 28.1- overweight). ”

7) Take time to eat. While this can be maddening for Yours Truely at the 8 hour long family dinners, it gives you a time to digest and re-assess your hunger level.
8) If you do eat too much one night, have a light soup the next night.

What about the other side?
Does this thin culture create more anorexia or bulemia? I was curious, so I tried to find some information on the web. I found a lot of conflicting things and nothing very precise. The best I found was this.

"In the United States, somewhere between 0.5 percent and 3.7 percent of women will be anorexic in their lifetimes, while 1.1. percent to 4.2 percent will suffer from bulimia. Between 2 percent and 5 percent of Americans binge eat. Among young French women, an estimated 1 percent to 3 percent are anorexic; 5 percent are bulimic; and 11 percent have compulsive eating behaviors."

So I guess they are roughly the same. Who knows. Perhaps what keeps the population from being overly large doesn't help any as far as being too thin is concerned.

Here is my Handy Dandy Size Perception Conversion Chart

America = France

very very thin = very thin

very thin = thin

thin = normal

normal = heavy

heavy = very heavy

very heavy = very very heavy

Therefore, you can see someone who is considered normal in the US would be considered heavy here in France.

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