French Women Don’t Get Fat – Book Review

A Review of: French Women Don’t Get Fat “The Secret of Eating for Pleasure” by Mireille Guiliano.  Learn the secrets to how the French manage to stay so thin and enjoy delicious food!  Visit the website for the book here.

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I have to admit that I have always been fascinated by French culture and cuisine. I love the art, romanticism, wine, and pastries.

But I had never heard of the “French Paradox”. French Cuisine is known for very rich dishes, consisting mostly of butter, red meat, cheese, and bread. Here in the US, all of those foods have been demonized as unhealthy. Yet the French are still far more healthy than Americans.

If I can learn how to drink red wine every day and be healthy, I am all in!

Overall, I enjoyed French Women Don’t Get Fat, thenot-so-diet “diet book” and would recommend it to anyone. She has a fresh perspective on the American food landscape, thanks to splitting much of her time between France and the US.

Guiliano’s writing style is refreshing. The entire book is fun and lighthearted from the start. It feels like an intimate conversation between girlfriends, sharing their secret tips and tricks for health and longevity.

The book starts with autobiographical anecdotes contrasting the differences between American’s cuisine and dining habits to those of the French.

The next section of the book details the 3 phase plan she used to lose weight as a young woman. She also gives detailed scenarios of friends that she coached through the same regimen. Most of whom were able to overhaul their food habits while losing weight.

She includes quite a few simple and healthy recipes derived from traditional French dishes.  And really stresses the importance of using seasonings and cooking good quality, delicious tasting food.

French Women Don't Get Fat

The French Woman’s diet.

The actual diet is very straight forward and based mostly on intuitive eating. In the first phase you assess your current eating habits and identify repeat offenders. After which, you pare down your diet to mainly healthy whole foods in proper portions. She recommends this until you reach your goal weight.

Then you can incorporate small treats in moderation. It seems simple, but Guiliano does a fantastic job of explaining the foods you should focus on, the correct portion sizes, and the importance of satiety.

French women eat pasta

For her, a big part of eating is the pleasure that goes along with savoring your food. She really stresses that food should be eaten at a table, with proper utensils, and no distractions; so you can enjoy and remember every bite. Your brain will feel even more satisfied at the end of your meal.

The other half of the equation is walking. Not “going to the gym,” but the humble act of walking.

French culture demands quite a bit of walking. Guiliano reminds us it is fantastic for our cardiovascular systems, brains, digestion, and mood regulation.

The TL;DR.

Ultimately, French Women Don’t Get Fat presents a set of habits and method of eating that allows for good health and longevity. And she really believes that anyone can achieve this state.

I incorporated several of her tips into my daily life and have seen some positive changes. She explained how she uses small daily indulgences to reinforce positive behaviors. So I really took the time to decide the foods that were my absolute favorite (Chai lattes, croissants, and chocolate chip cookies) and enjoy them guilt free.

Although Guiliano is sure that her method is workable for everyone, I am a little more suspect. It seems very straightforward and simple, but can be a serious challenge for someone who has lived their whole life on the Standard American Diet.

I believe that the method of intuitive eating she describes is difficult, if not impossible, for most people in the current American food landscape.

It is important to remember that we are bombarded with food advertisements and cues multiple times throughout the day. We have no standard American food culture to help us control, standardize, or manage our hunger cues and cravings. Instead, we have handed our plates over to the food manufacturer’s and let their bottom lines dictate our diets.

But I did learn in order to be healthy like the French, you must dine like the French! I think there are some really great takeaways from this book and encourage anyone to read it.