This month, I’ve picked up a fun biography/ cookbook called, “French Women Don’t Get Fat~ The Secret of Eating for Pleasure.” Before you cut me off and dismiss me immediately for the apparent Anti-American sentiment, please let me explain. I love to cook. I love food. It’s deeply engrained in my culture and identity. This love of cooking and food doesn’t always match up well with health and wellness. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not only for the story of a Franco-American woman living in New York and her struggles with food/ weight, but for her no-nonsense, pragmatic approach to food, eating and pleasure.
Mireille Guiliano, the author of “French Women Don’t Get Fat”, tells her own story of growing up in rural France, her time as an exchange student in America, and being married/ living in the United States. As she tells her story of weight gain, “recasting” as she calls it, and stabilization, she offers several wonderful recipes throughout the book. There were several points that impressed upon me~
First, we as Americans don’t eat well. We eat more. We eat in our cars, on the go, in front of the TV, standing in the kitchen, at our desk, etc. Portion size is way too big as we eat so fast on the go that we don’t give our bodies time to realize we are full or satisfied. We’ve lost the art of dining with real napkins, silverware, conversation, and most importantly, time. We eat fruit and vegetables off-season and/ or so processed that they are hardly recognizable and devoid of their intended flavor.
What I like most about this book is that she recommends a very simple alteration in the way we view food, eating and health. Small changes are what she advocates. Being intentional and aware of what passes our lips is key. The first phase is about journaling our eating habits. This is an essential component of any weight control program. Food diaries are a cornerstone of Weight Watchers. After about three weeks of jotting down what a person is consuming, it becomes very obvious what our “offenders” are~ the habits we have that are causing us to gain weight/ be unhealthy. For example, if we are having bread with every meal, cut back to one meal per day. During the “recasting” phase, Mireille recommends common sense things like increasing water intake, cutting back (but not deprivation) of some of our “offenders”, eating more fruits and vegetables, taking time/ care in shopping, cooking and eating our food. Using a food scale to be aware of healthy portion size is also recommended. The stabilization or life phase is simply about compensating for what we eat and how active we are. It’s about balance. No deprivation, binge eating, starving, or elimination diet here. This book is just full of practical ideas to slowly adjust the way we think about and approach food and eating.I recommend this book for anyone who loves food and/ or cooking and has at one time or another felt deprived of enjoying it. As I am on a path to health and wellness, I found this book simple but profound in its ‘middle of the road’ approach to eating. For myself, being aware and present as I am cooking and eating is something I want to strive for. Experimenting with fresh ingredients, frequenting my local farmer’s market, and trying new recipes are something I look forward to. Balancing exercise with good eating is just good sense.
Written by: Kerry Caron (kickboxing Instructor)
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