How do the French Stay Slim?

How do French men and women stay slim? Surely they should have a weight problem. Their cities are full of boulangeries selling mouth watering cakes and pastries. Parisians can be seen carrying calorie rich baguettes and bottles of wine. A meal may last an afternoon. The French live in a gourmet’s paradise and yet they fail to put on weight.

To be fair they are not all slim, but more are slim than fat by a large margin. Just look at the statistics – 30% of Americans are overweight, 23% British and under 10% French. It is a big difference. How do they do it?

It is not so much what they eat as how they eat. They may take a long time over a meal, but the portions are not large. The French enjoy conversation, this slows things down enormously. They drink wine, but generally in moderation. There is no tradition of excessive beer drinking as in Anglo Saxon countries. Beer contains more calories than wine and binge drinking on beer is binging on calories. The French do not drink to get drunk like many Anglo Saxons and so they drink less.

In France there is not the problem of overweight teenagers and we know that fat teenagers become fat adults. The reason is that young French men and women are tres sportif. Competitive cycling is a national obsession and, particularly in the south with its mild climate, water sports are popular as well. Walking is normal. Children are encouraged to walk to school and at weekends families enjoy rambles in the countryside or in local parks. The facilities are there. Even in a great city like Paris the Bois de Boulogne gives people three square miles of parkland for rest and recreation. Other cities in other countries have parks, but the French seem to use theirs for exercise more than most.

It is a different and more healthy lifestyle which shows that, if eaten in moderation and with enough exercise, fats, sugars and carbohydrates do not necessarily cause weight gain. There are no secrets in looking like a Parisian. Just eat less, take more exercise, relax and you will stay slim. You can start at home, buy smaller plates and remember to throw out those beers in the fridge. Have a continental breakfast, drink black coffee, do not snack on junk food and sit down to two meals a day. You don’t have time? Make time. The French are not layabouts, they just see the importance of living a healthy longer life. You can do the same.

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