We’ve all heard it before. But what is the real secret of the mysterious French woman? You know – the one who takes pleasure in rich custards, luxurious foie gras, countless pastries and croissants, and basically anything her heart desires?
I’ll give you a hint. There is a phrase above that’s part of the answer.
“Who takes pleasure.” That is part of the secret, the elusive mystery behind it all. And it’s really nothing new.
We’ve talked here about portion control. Yes, portion control is also part of the solution. In fact, I really like Mireille Guiliano’s (writer of the book who started it all) “50 Percent Solution,” where she suggests women should ask themselves, “If I were to eat half of what’s being offered to me right now, would I still be satisfied?” Sometimes the answer is no, but more often than not, it’s yes.
If it’s not possible, then you continue to ask yourself the same question when you’ve already eaten half. So you eat half of your meal, then you ask yourself, “Can I eat half of what’s now left and be content?” The theory is that if you continue to break it down this way, you’ll never end up eating your entire plate. While the word “never” may be a misfit in this sentence, I understand the theory, and I bet it works much of the time. The reason is that it’s forcing you to slow down and really think about what you’re eating.
But the other part – the pleasure part. This is the larger part, I believe, of the real reason French women don’t get fat. Because when you start to truly take pleasure in your food, the portion control falls naturally into place.
Instead of mindlessly scarfing down your food, savor it. Focus on each flavor, each texture. Chew slowly. And if you’re going to savor it, that means it has to be good. French women certainly aren’t getting down with McD’s.
Mireille suggests that one should eat with all five senses in order to truly appreciate one’s food and feel satisfied. I love this quote: “Just as they have an uncanny knack for using the same scarf to create a different effect by draping it over the head, neck, shoulders or waist, in the kitchen, they master a few basic preparations, and leave the rest to improvisation, the art of tweaking an old stand-by into seeming different. They do it by slightly altering the preparation or seasoning, by turning what is usually an entrée into an appetizer, or by transforming lunch left-overs into something rather different for several later meals.”
French women have that knack for style, not only in fashion but with food as well. Love that.
I haven’t yet read Mireille’s book, but it’s hard to feel the need to as her website is so full of great information. If any of this interests you, I strongly suggest spending some time with it. She has so many great tips on a variety of subjects, and I love the fun facts about French culture and life she throws in.
Here’s a favorite manifesto: French women typically think about good things to eat. American women typically worry about bad things to eat.
Food for thought!
Has anyone read the book? I’d love to know what you think.