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March 04, 2010: The “French Paradox”

March 4, 2010

Sometimes as I am preparing the calorie-rich dishes at the French restaurant where I work, I wonder how it is, that a people of a culture, with the most sybarite foods in the world (possibly excepting traditional Chinese…as opposed to American-Chinese foods, which has it’s own dietary problems) that routinely serves a huge portion of meat, minimized vegetable emphasis, all lathered in rich sauces and garlic butter, remain much trimmer than most Americans.

Oddly enough, in the “French Paradox” it is perhaps the French love of good food, and of things sensual, that saves them from the typical American waistline! Making food an important part of ones’ day, is not necessarily a bad thing!

Here are a few things the French do different that allows them to enjoy food, yet remain trim:

First, they really, really enjoy the best possible meal, and will go through more hoops to make it so. This means shopping for (perhaps in different markets) the best food stuffs as materials. The wisest GROW THEIR OWN FOOD, knowing that this will lend the best taste with the most nutrition. Finally, most will PREPARE THEIR OWN FOOD to get the perfect balance of taste. Hey! Guess what all this activity does? Yep, it burns calories. Just like our (trimmer) ancestors did before modern conveniences.

They TAKE MORE TIME eating their meal, enjoying the event to the extreme. As it takes roughly 20 minutes between consuming and the brain getting the signal, they get full sooner. Also, they STOP EATING WHEN THEY ARE FULL, as opposed to most Americans, which tend to the goal-orientated “cleaning their plate”. If you have excellent food, it usually makes decent leftovers.

As eating together is a main (and leisurely) event, they tend to COMMUNE MORE AND EAT ALONE LESS than most Americans do. Not only does this make the meal more fun, to eat with others, but it is usually more relaxing, which is better for digestion than just rushing through the meal. Making a meal a happy event is good for us socially and psychologically.

They, as a rule, DO NOT SNACK. If the meal is an event that you look forward to, you don’t want to spoil it by stuffing yourself between.

Also, as the food is so good and filling, the French tend to EAT SMALLER PORTIONS.

They also CONSUME MODEST AMOUNTS OF RED WINE. Nutritionists shy away from actually recommending drinking wine, for obvious reasons, (everything in moderation) but if you consume a rich food, wine is perfect for cutting through the richness. You can taste it doing so. Also, they RARELY CONSUME ALCHOHOL WITHOUT FOOD.

All of this is just common sense: take the time, create and enjoy the best, everything in moderation, and put aside a part of your day to enjoy good food, your family, friends, LIFE. That’s what is most important. N’est-il pas ainsi ?

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One comment

  1. Really great article! Such a good reminder that ‘fast’ food is bad for us in so many ways.



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