According to a recent report in Forbes magazine, 74% of Americans over the age of 15 years are overweight (BMI greater than 25) or obese (BMI greater than 30). The USA also came in at an inglorious ninth position on the World’s Fattest Countries list recently, while France was at a respectable position of number 128.
These statistics are surprising because France is a country where a culture of croissants, cappuccinos, and café thrives. There are innumerable patisseries with mouth-watering desserts that are found on every street corner, eating refined flour baguettes with meals is popular, lingering over food cooked in buttery sauces is commonplace, and drinking wine is the norm.
What is the answer to this growing trend of obesity and improper food habits? One we can think of is a characteristic French diet that takes most of the indulgences and balances it with an active lifestyle. The French diet and dietary practices
You might think France is famous for fashion. Yes, it is, but it is also famous for delicious sweets, alcoholic beverages, and street foods.
However, it is the discipline in French culture that makes all the difference. The citizens there work hard and are sensible enough to eat those delicacies in moderation. They also work out properly to balance out the intake of extra calories.
This country is also known for its rich and lavish lifestyle, and the same is reflected in the food habits there. Then how come the French are not the most obese and fat people out there? On the contrary, they are the most attractive people in the world.
The French eat their meals like they have all the time in the world and their typical diet may last two hours. They don’t like wolfing down food while multi-tasking but rather have an unhurried and systematic approach to having their food. They savor their meals with all their senses and eat them for both pleasure and nourishment.
They also eat at regular intervals and consider eating in front of the television uncivilized. Even though it seems the French eat a lot of carbs in the form of bread and pasta, their meals are light and their portions are small. They also have generous amounts of red wine to boost their digestive system.
A typical French lunch or dinner consists of dairy products like cheese, milk, butter, and yogurt. They are consumed with bread, red meat or fish, and grilled fruits and vegetables. Two of the most important items on the food list are red wine and dark chocolate- no meal is usually complete without them.
There is no restriction but it is good to enjoy fatty foods occasionally and in limited portions. For example, a sandwich in France is likely to be a baguette with a few healthy fillings as compared to the giant overstuffed cheese-laden American ones. This translates to fewer calories and fats.
Ditto for the choice of alcoholic beverages- when an American would rather have his beer to reduce his boredom, a French would rather have some wine to pump up his metabolism.
Eating dessert in France is de rigueur. But instead of denying themselves of it, French citizens choose quality over quantity- they know when to stop. Their pastries are mini-sized and they stop at one. The words mega, jumbo, and supersized are not part of their food vocabulary.
All-you-can-eat restaurants are virtually unheard of in France, primarily because the citizens there buy healthy foods and enjoy them. A French supermarket is likely to have an entire aisle devoted to healthy foods like vegetables and fruits, and snacks like chips, sodas, and cookies get very little shelf space.
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The French enjoy a meal at a restaurant as an indulgence, but they usually prefer real food prepared in their kitchens. Take-out is uncommon in France. They don’t order high-fat convenience meals or tangy fast foods. They allocate sufficient time in their daily routines to prepare and eat food.
Their main meal is lunch. Snacking between meals is also unnecessary because their meals are well-balanced. The French citizens back it all up with an active lifestyle (comprising workouts and meditation) and a healthy dash of alcohol. However, the latter usually doesn’t go to the extent of indulgence.
Soups and red wine are excellent appetizers. Taken before their lunch or dinner, they hydrate your digestive system and kick start the metabolism process. This translates into a better appreciation of food and your liver can derive nutrition from it much quicker.
Like most of us, The French too eat three meals a day but it is how they power it up with appetizers like soups and red wine that makes all the difference. The duo has thus stayed to be a regular part of their diet for centuries now.
The French don’t think about fitness all the time because they have made it a way of their lives. It’s common for people to use public transport, walk, or ride a bike to work. High levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) are linked to belly fat and unwanted weight gain.
They know the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and switching off from the stress of work to deal with their cortisol levels. This also includes slowing down and eating mindfully to savor the flavor and relish your food. You should eat everything but in small portions and make walking your second nature.
By the way, isn’t it time we renamed French Fries to American Fries?
You do not have to go to France to learn their ways. You may start with some smart ways to enjoy your meals in a better and more responsible manner. If you include healthy low-calorie snacks in your daily diet, you won’t be ravenous until mealtime and this will also keep your metabolism revved up.
1. Eat at regular times intervals
2. Stay away from binge eating
3. Consume alcohol cautiously
4. Don’t eat too fatty foods
5. Go for fiber-rich foods
6. Eat monounsaturated fats
7. Include omega-3 fatty acids
8. Eat slowly and mindfully
9. Eat colored fruits and vegetables
10. Cook your food yourself
We are offering a list of 15 low-calorie snacking options that would not exactly take you the French way but would at least help you satiate your hunger in those odd times. These foods are rich in proteins, vitamins, and calories but they won’t ever cling to your body as fat.
This ultimate afternoon energy boost comes in the form of a yummy creamy coffee mix and still provides less than 100 calories. Just make sure that your latte is prepared with skimmed milk and does not contain any sugary flavored syrups. Hot beverages are more satiating in comparison to cold ones. They are also rich in protein and calcium.
Greek yogurt is a low-calorie snack that can be easily grabbed on the go. You can choose a fat-free version of this yogurt to stay at the 100-calories mark. You may also have it with foods that are rich in protein and high-quality carbohydrates to stabilize your blood sugar levels.
Air-popped popcorn is the perfect low calories snacking option when the urge to head to the vending machine hits. Eating air-popped popcorn can get you a fiber boost without excess fats and other additives. You can have around 3 cups and eat one kernel at a time to make it last longer.
Can you believe 20 pistachios have just 80 calories? Being a popular dry fruit, they are a great source of unsaturated fat and antioxidants. Another plus point is that you will need to spend a lot of time opening them up before eating- it means that you won’t be able to eat too many of them too quickly.
Melons typically have between 45-60 calories per cup. You could thus go for a mix of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew for a satisfying snack this evening. Melons will give your taste buds a flavor burst filled with nutrition while making your snack feel more substantial.
For a healthy snack, you can go for a slice of cinnamon raisin bread. At just 80 calories per slice, you can go ahead and top this with a tiny dab of light butter spread too. Being rich in iron and fiber, it keeps your digestive system clean and efficient.
8 baby carrots just have 40 calories, and you can squeeze them all in a tablespoon of your favorite dips like hummus, tzatziki, or salsa. Carrots have high levels of carotenoids and other forms of vitamin A, which can boost your eyesight plus the crunchy texture can help battle chip cravings.
Normally dried fruits have high amounts of added sugar which can be bad for your diet. If you have a small portion (about one-quarter of a cup), you can get around your cravings for eating sweets. You might want to know that one-fourth cup of dried cranberries contains just 93 calories.
All nuts are loaded to the top with proteins and healthy monounsaturated fats and thus make for a smart snack choice. In one of its journals, the American Heart Association has highlighted that consuming almonds in place of carbs results in reduced cholesterol and belly fat. So, instead of reaching for that bag of pretzels, grab a small handful of almonds to power you through the afternoon.
Oatmeal is rich in fiber, magnesium, vitamin B1 (thiamine), iron, and zinc. Experts recommend it because half a cup of cooked oatmeal contains just 83 calories. Served with a dash of cinnamon, it could even help you have cleaner blood and constant blood sugar levels. This high-fiber and high-protein snack will also satisfy those untimely hunger pangs of yours.
String cheese is one of the most convenient and portable snacks to have on the go. One stick of part-skim string cheese has 80 calories, a whopping 8 grams of protein, and enough calcium to keep you running. This dairy product comes without any high saturated fats that are almost always found in other cheese varieties.
The simplest snack is the best snack. At just 60 calories, each orange makes for a great option for a snack because it is high in vitamins and fiber, and low in natural sugar. These citrus fruits are also rich in vitamin C, the vitamin that takes care of your kidneys and gallbladder.
Eggs are a high-protein snack with just 78 calories. The proteins will keep you full and may prevent overeating later. If you are having them for bodybuilding purposes, you can have one or two of them in boiled milk. This will help you have a truckload of proteins and calcium in one go.
It is the only snack option that’s packed with antioxidants and nutrition. Every single cup of blueberries has only 83 calories that makes them a perfect diet-friendly choice. Keep them a little frozen and your crunchy, sweet treat is ready.
With just 46 calories per single cup serving, you can enjoy 2 cups of strawberries and still have calories to spare. They’re a great, juicy snack whenever in season and frozen strawberries can be just as healthy the rest of the year.
If there is one cue you can take from the French, it is their love for dining. They don’t fuss over their food and the calories it has, especially when they are with their friends. But they do join it with healthier practices to lose their flab by adopting a fitness-centric lifestyle and controlled eating practices. That’s the beauty of a typical French diet that has made it so successful around the world.
We also recommend that you go for online consultation with a wellness expert to know how you may include this amazing diet culture in your lifestyle, no matter which part of the world you are in. it is an on-demand, app-based endeavor that you can get started with using your smartphone right now!