How many times do we need to be told that restrictive diets don't work before we will believe it and give up all the fads?
I still find myself perking up and tuning in when I hear about a new "diet" someone is trying or see a popular new "diet book" on the shelves even though I know that there is no magic bullet.
I found myself drawn in again just the other day seeking solutions to the "what is the right way to eat?" question in the latest diet book offerings.
Fortunately I caught myself midstream, realized that there is no "right" way, but many acceptable approaches and put them back on the shelf where they need to stay.
I already know how to find the best diet for me (and for you for Pete's sake!)
At some point I will list all the diet books I have read and diet approaches I have tried. It is frightening to consider how much time I have spent on this.
Eating well shouldn't be this hard! Food should bring health and pleasure, not fear.
I am convinced that the Europeans have eating figured out. I haven't traveled much, but on my trips to Paris and Italy I encountered people savoring their food.
On a trip to Paris several years ago, a culinary focused excursion called Unpolished Paris, I had the opportunity to visit with the wife of a local baker who seemed to take immense pleasure in food while maintaining a Barbie sized figure. I had the time and opportunity and so I asked, "How do you do it? What is the secret?"
She was happy to share her French weight loss secrets with me. Originating from Canada and having visited the U.S. on several occasions, she was able to provide a very insightful opinion.
Here are some of her beliefs regarding why French ladies are able to eat well, enjoy food and stay slim:
- French ladies don't eat all the time. They eat 3 meals a day at routine times and don't indulge much in between. She was amazed that in the U.S. people seem to be eating at all hours. In Paris the restaurants stop serving lunch at 2:00 PM and don't open again until dinner.
- Portions in France are much smaller. The amount of food served in the U.S. was obscene to her. The focus in France is on quality, not quantity.
- People in France, especially Paris, get a lot more exercise because they do so much walking.
- The French don't multi-task while eating. They sit down, savor their meals and eat more slowly. The drive-through restaurant is an incomprehensible concept. They practice mindful eating.
That really sums it up. No tricks, no fads, just common sense and moderation.
*PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® calculated by Simple Nourished Living; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc. All recipe ingredients except optional items included in determining nutritional estimates. SmartPoints® values calculated WITHOUT Weight Watchers Zero Points fruits and vegetables using the WW Recipe Builder.
I also observed that the French eat a lot more real food and fewer processed ingredients, as reflected in the spectacular open markets and specialty food stores. I spent a week in Paris and indulged in everything imaginable. I lived like a French woman, savoring croissants or baguette and coffee for breakfast, delicious lunches and dinners, salads, omelets, cheese, fish, cassoulet, crepes, dessert and wine.
The food was delicious and incredibly satisfying. I also walked a lot visiting the sites and the markets, touring restaurants, and restaurant supply stores, attended cooking lessons and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I didn't want to leave.
Before departing for my French culinary tour, I was a little apprehensive about potential weight gain but decided to throw caution to the wind and just enjoy the adventure. You know what? I didn't gain a pound! Many others have had similar experiences.
My Francophile friend Hallie, who ran the tour and now spends part of each year in Provence, is another example. This slim talented chef and food writer who lives the French lifestyle proves that you can and should trust a skinny chef!
I think that when we eat real food, savor it, in the company of friends and family, linger over meals, stop when we are full, relax, and lead happy active lives, our bodies accommodate us.
Food is more than just fuel. Real food is more than the sum of its parts. When we eat delicious, fresh real food–veggies and fruit and cheese and bread and fish or chicken or meat our bodies get the nutrients we need and we are truly nourished so the body can keep what it needs and let the rest go.
Of course in our chaotic over-scheduled world this is not easily accomplished. I truly believe the rewards are worth it. It is what simple nourished living is all about for me.
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