The French Paradox is a phenomenon that I’m sure many of you are already familiar with. Based off the book French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano, how do French women eat all that butter, cheese, bread, wine, and chocolate while remaining pencil thin? They must all have eating disorders or something because a few weeks in France and you typically return home with some extra luggage of the waist and hip variety.

Let me explain why foreigners gain weight in France and why French women don’t…

Good Eating Habits:
Controlled portions!!! French people tend to eat a little bit of everything offered, and they eat it slowly so that less food could satisfy them. You wouldn’t believe how many times I found myself with an empty plate while the Frenchies weren’t even halfway done! Not cool guys. However, I trained myself to eat slower and not to over indulge. Many French people also do not concern themselves with things like “how much protein/fat/sugar/salt does that have?” They seem more content about eating… the worry free attitude allows them to enjoy eating the food in front of them even more.

An eat at mealtime mentality:
Although snacking has become more common in France, I’ve heard French parents tell their children “Only animals are hungry”. It’s a good rule of thumb though, because to me, it doesn’t make any sense why American college students are eating full fledged meals (second dinners) at 1 or 2 AM… just go to bed already!

Exercise:
The French government created a lifestyle program called Manger-Bouger (eat and move). There are two forms of exercise: the subtle “I’ll go walk to work, the store, the post office”, cook, clean, be active all day form; and then, the specific “lets go run 5 kilometers” form. It’s funny because I always saw French people engaged in exercise. During my stay in France, I continued to run everyday (about me) yet, I upped my milage from the usual three miles a day to five or six! (This way, I could counteract all the extra delicious crêpes au chocolat, or bread and cheese). I’m pretty convinced that I’ve seen the entire village of Marroles-En-Brie during my runs, because quite frankly, everybody went out to exercise!

Smoking: 
It’s scientifically proven that smoking suppresses your appetite (I am not telling you to run out and smoke). But, if you look at the thin Parisian women at a café, you’ll typically find all of them huffing away and talking to their friends rather than eating.  IF they choose to dine, it’s a little salad served with a drink. Smoking like a chimney and not eating anything seems to be a classic route of the French diet.

V is for Vegetable:
You know, those little green things mom made you eat. Now, I left this reason down here because I know a ton of American’s who eat their fruits and vegetables (it’s essentially my entire diet). However, the French boast that they eat FRESH fruits, veggies, bread, meats, and dairy… It’s kinda true that American supermarket shelves are being filled with more chemically processed fare: “fat free”, “sugar free”, “artificial flavored” foods. So, the possibility that all this processed stuff is doing more harm than good is certainly out there.

Chivalry isn’t dead:
This may seem a little shallow, however French women realize that remaining thin and “beautiful” prolongs the perks and benefits of being a woman! Yes, this is coming from a guy’s perspective, but give it a little thought. Thanks to social norms and increased pressure to be “thin”, weight is a huge concern for people around the world, especially for women. Remember that the French have a saying…

Il faut souffrir pour être belle! 
It’s necessary to suffer to be beautiful (girls)!

Please, share your comments below! It lets me know that people are out there with different viewpoints.

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