The French Diet: Butter And Baguettes

The French seem to break every rule for healthy diet, and yet they stay slim. Can you eat for pleasure and maintain a trim figure?

French croissant and coffee

It's called the French Paradox. How can the French eat four times more butter and a diet proportionally high in saturated fats and stay slim? The French have remarkably low rates of heart disease and generally trim figures, yet daily they eat fresh bread made from refined white flour, they consume both lean and fatty meats -- pork, duck and beef, eat heavier foods later at night (dinner at 8 or 9 p.m.) than is typical in our culture, and drink wine and alcohol with both lunch and dinner. Those who practice a typical French lifestyle seem to break every rule of our commonly accepted notions of good, healthy diets, so what's their secret?


The French eat tasty food, but much less of it. There motto seems to be "real food in moderation." They generally don't eat any processed foods... so everything is cooked with care and they shop for fresh ingredients daily, or at least several times each week. They eat seasonally and locally, so the very freshest produce is what they choose.

French women simply refuse to be overweight! They eat at regular times, but there is a social stigma in France against snacks between meals. They don't stop for a latte and cookie between meals and normally they would never eat in their carsĀ -- and that in itself is not surprising, because the French prefer to walk everywhere they can. They walk to work, to the market, to restaurants... and that certainly makes a difference in their slim, toned bodies. The French eat for the pleasure of eating, rather than as a source of fuel. Food is beautifully prepared and presented, but portions are small.

While everyone in France seems to be toting a fresh baguette to bring home, you'd actually need to consume a lot of bread for the calories to add up. The French make do with one slice -- crowned with real butter. You won't find artificial sweetners on French tables. They prefer small portions of the real thing. For their diet it's three meals every day -- of real food, and nothing in between.

To your health

Wine is enjoyed regularly, often with both lunch and dinner. That may be part of the health secret the French have discovered. Red wine has healing properties called flavonoids, which are found in certain fruits and vegetables. These flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that help protect against heart disease and some forms of cancer. Research has proven that flavonoids help promote the growth of HDLs, the "good" cholesterol that helps get rid of the "bad" cholesterol. A couple of glasses of red wine every day may be just what the doctor ordered! If wine is not your thing, get the same benefits eating a bunch of purple grapes every day.

The French lifestyle suggests that the best diet is to eat for pleasure and satisfaction, but to choose only the best foods prepared fresh, and to keep your meal portions very small. Eat slowly, and savour each bite!

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Tags: diet plans slimming food


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