After returning to France and gaining 20 pounds while studying in the US, Mireille Guiliano returned to her French roots for eating. Guiliano, the CEO of a Veuve Clicquot (a champagne company), was described as a “sack of potatoes” by her father because of the large portions and sweets she consumed on American soil. After several months back home in France her mother asked their family physician to help Guiliano to lose weight. She was successful and decided years later to write her book French Women Don’t Get Fat about her weight loss journey to help others lose weight the French way.
The French eat good quality foods but in small portions while eating slowly and savoring every bite. French women make dining a pleasurable experience where no foods are off limits. Guiliano emphasizes that the French do not count calories nor do they skip meals.
The first phase Guiliano refers to as “the wake-up call.” During this phase you will take inventory of all the meals you eat over a 3-week period and record them in a journal.
Phase two of the French eating approach is called “recasting.” This is a 3-month process where you will be introduced to the French school of eating which includes portion sizes. Here you will “acclimate with your five senses to a new gastronomy,” according to Guiliano. You will need to identify any food “offenders” and temporarily stop eating them.
For the first 48 hours of the “recasting” phase you will be on a leek soup diet, a popular French jumpstart because leeks are believed to be a mild diuretic and are very low in calories. You will cook up a large batch of leek soup that will be drunk every 2 to 3 hours, 1 cup at a time. The recipe for the soup is provided for you in the book. You can eat a half a cup of leeks for meals or whenever you are hungry. On your second day at dinner (typically Sunday), you can start to add some meat or fish along with two vegetables.
“Stabilization” is the theme and title of phase three. You should be about halfway towards your goal weight at this point. Everything you like to eat is reintegrated back into your daily meals.
The final phase is “the rest of your life” phase. You have reached your target weight and now it is time to maintain your weight. Your eating habits are now modified to your tastes and metabolism; this should last over your lifetime with minor adjustments here and there.
By adapting a French attitude towards food you will eat a variety of healthy foods and stop eating on the run. You will be eating in-season foods while seated, chewing thoroughly and without distraction i.e. television. The French are fond of yogurt as a good snack or for breakfast and most French women consume 1 to 2 servings per day.
French recipes are sprinkled throughout the book and include:
- Asparagus Flan
- Grilled Spring Lamb Chops
- Halibut en Papillote
- Cold Beet and Yogurt Summer Soup
- Zucchini Flower Omelet
- Snapper with Almonds
- Duck Breast a la Gasconne
- Chocolate Rice Pudding
Walking is the main form of exercise for French women. The author advocates adding regular “dedicated” walks to your daily routine; this includes walking to work or the store. She also suggests that you look for ways to increase your “incidental” walking time such as skipping the shortcuts in your neighborhood. Guiliano recommends women over the age forty to add resistance training to their workout routine.
This is a non-diet book where you learn how the French eat and drink. Learn how to eat with the seasons while trying new recipes, flavors and herbs. Discover how to make homemade yogurt and how to dine out like a French woman.
Even though the French have a lower obesity rate than Amercians, they are getting fatter. There is no science behind some of the author’s advice such as leeks being a natural diuretic. The book is mainly targeted to women, not men. Lastly, the author is not a trained dietician; her advice is based solely on her and her French friends’ experiences.
By slowing down and enjoying your meals you will be satisfied with fewer calories. You will be able to eat all your favorite foods but in smaller portions.
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