Popular Diets Reviewed: French Women Don't Get Fat

Heather Reese Health Guide
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    If you've ever been to France or other parts of Europe you’ve probably noticed that, for the most part, the people there are thinner than most Americans. While obesity rates are increasing worldwide, they remain highest in the United States. About 33 percent of Americans are overweight compared with 10 percent of French citizens. I believe that these statistics have lent to the popularity of the French Women Don't Get Fat diet.

    Based on the French philosophy of quality over quantity, this diet encourages a lifestyle of moderation but allows you to eat anything you want. It's about using high quality, natural ingredients and taking the time to savor the flavors, textures and aromas of the food that you eat. It asserts that if you eat high quality foods you will be satisfied by smaller amounts.

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    This diet begins by recommending that you take a three month inventory of your current diet by keeping a food diary. During this time you are encouraged to fast on the weekends, eating only leek soup. While this may jump start your weight loss, the leek soup is not a "magical" diuretic as the diet claims, you are losing weight because you are decreasing your calories. After this three month period you are encouraged to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs with low-fat dairy, lean meats and lots of water. You are allowed to eat anything you want, but encouraged to do so in moderation and eating for pleasure.

    The author recommends eating slowly and savoring each bite, stopping when you feel satisfied. She asserts that when you eat with your head, you can leave the table feeling comfortable having not overeaten. She also suggests using your clothing instead of the scale to measure your weight loss success. When your clothes begin to feel snug you should re-evaluate your lifestyle and what and how you are eating.

    What You Can Eat
    You're allowed to eat just about everything on this diet, but moderation is stressed and fresh, local foods are encouraged. The diet focuses on fruit, vegetables, lean meats and proteins, low-fat dairy, breads, cereals, and olive oil. It also encourages using lots of fresh herbs to flavor your food. The diet recommends choosing high quality foods and shopping at local farmer’s markets, saying that the more fruit and vegetables you can add to your diet, the thinner you will be.

    Water is encouraged and the author recommends carrying a bottle of water with you at all times. You are also allowed to drink herbal teas and eat soups. Alcohol is also allowed in moderation.

    According to the author, French women eat lots of fish, vegetables and yogurt. She also recommends keeping healthy, nutrient-rich snacks like pumpkin seeds and soy nuts with you so you have a healthy option if you are hungry while you are eating out.

    What You Shouldn't Eat
    This diet does not include processed or pre-packaged foods. And the author says to avoid foods that come in large quantities and foods with silly names. Again, the emphasis is on fresh foods. This diet discourages high-fat, high sugar foods and fried foods are a real no-no. While pastries and other desserts are allowed, the author recommends taking just a few bites and leaving the rest.

  • Instead of indulging in inexpensive treats that aren't satisfying, enjoy one bite of an expensive chocolate. The secret to this diet is eating quality foods that will leave you satisfied after only one or two bites. The author recommends that instead of looking at it as eating a small portion, consider it a treat. For people who are used to eating large quantities of food, the diet recommends gradually cutting back portions to trick your body into feeling satisfied with less food.

    As I mentioned before, the diet encourages lots of water and herbal teas. According to the author, soda is a child's drink and adults should not walk around slurping sugary sodas and coffees. While alcohol is allowed, the authors qualifies that by saying that adults to do binge in alcohol.

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    The French Women Don't Get Fat diet encourages everyone to walk for exercise, adding it into your lifestyle instead of considering physical activity as something you do in the gym. The French and people throughout Europe walk everywhere. However, it is important to note that the French lifestyle is more conducive to this recommendation. Someone who lives in a small town or in the suburbs is not likely to be able to walk to the grocery store. The author recommends being active throughout the day and adding strength training to your activity if you are over 40 years old.

    My Thoughts
    I've spent considerable time in Europe and agree that their lifestyle and eating habits are healthier than those in the United States. Quality of food over quantity of food and a more active lifestyle are major differences that have a huge impact on overall health. I think that the recommendations in this book are good; however, they are not necessarily going to translate for all Americans. Still the over riding themes of using fresh ingredients and savoring food, eating slowly and being more active are sound.

    I always say that there are two types of people, when it comes to eating. People who like food and people who like to eat. People who like food, tend to eat slowly enjoying the flavors, textures and aromas of the food on their plate. People who like to eat, tend to eat faster and aren't as aware of the flavors of their food. This diet is based on the eating habits of people who like food. If you are the kind of person who wants the most bang for your buck when it comes to dieting, you probably aren't going to benefit from this diet. You would be better off with a program that focuses on eating larger quantities of low-calorie, low-fat foods. However, if you find yourself frustrated by diets that focus on tasteless, mass produced foods than this diet will probably work for you.

    *Grade: A. This diet does not eliminate any food groups and encourages eating in moderation and engaging in regular physical activity. It encourages foods that are low in fat and added sugars and focuses on fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy.

    * Popular Diet Rating System

    A: This diet meets accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It recommends food from all food groups with an emphasis on healthy choices within each food group.

  • B: This diet meets most accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It emphasizes healthy foods but does not include food from all food groups.

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    C: This diet only meets some accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It does not differentiate between food choices in each food group and therefore does not emphasize healthy foods.
    D: This diet does only meets one or two accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet.
    F: This diet does not meet any accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It does not differentiate between healthy foods and unhealthy foods and/or does not meet caloric needs.


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Published On: November 18, 2007