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France is a country of glamour, elegance, and style. They also happen to have some of the most delicious foods yet people are healthy. If we look at obesity rates, this country is always among the lowest in Europe, so what’s the secret?
Whether you are in Côte d’Azur soaking up the sun or strolling through the Parisian streets, you will notice that most eateries share a series of habits. They’re quite simple to incorporate into our daily lives in fact. So, let’s dive in and learn from the French.
Enjoy everything, but in moderation!
According to this study on eating habits, only 8% of French people consume light foods. If you feel like milk in your coffee have whole milk, if you would like a yogurt same thing. Remember that fat, in the right amount, is very healthy and filling.
This kind of moderation is seen in any eatery in France. Their portions of cake are nothing compared to the immense portions served in other countries like the United States and Great Britain.
Take time to delight in your meal
It’s a cultural thing, the French harbor no guilt after eating a croissant. This is something that sets them apart and is an extremely healthy way to live life and have a good relationship with food.
When it comes to eating in France, people are more focused on the experience, flavors and all the sensations they bring rather than on the effect that these foods are going to have. This also makes them more aware of feeling full thus they’re less prone to binge eating.
No trace of processed foods
According to the same study, only 28% of French people eat processed foods on a regular basis. The French diet is very natural and mainly based on seasonal products. In fact, most of their dishes are Grandma’s classic recipes such as Ratatouille, Onion Soup, or beef stew.
Lest we not forget that avoiding processed foods means avoiding sugars and trans fats that have little nutritional value but an enormous amount of calories.
The French dine early
Eating the last meal of the day so late impacts our health and our rest at night; in fact, there are studies that link having a late dinner with a greater tendency to suffer from obesity.
The French, like many other European countries, eat dinner around 19:30, 20:00. Unlike in Spain where the dinner can be much later… including at 22:00!
Cheese at any time of day!
Camembert, Brie, or Roquefort fondues may be a mainstay that we are overlooking. According to research published in 2015 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the French consume an average of 26 kilos of cheese per year (more than in any country).
This fatty food has a bad reputation, but in reality, it has health benefits which are reason enough to rethink our stance: it is an excellent source of calcium for our bones, it provides us with good energy, is beneficial to the heart thanks to Vitamin K and it has a great amount of high biological value proteins. And no one can deny that cheese is delicious!
There is no outing like going to the market
A common custom, French people have the habit of getting up early on the weekends to buy fresh produce at many of the open-air markets with their reusable shopping bags in tow. This is a great habit we can all learn from, not only is our food more natural but we support more local artisans and help ensure a healthier diet for our families with fewer chemicals and higher quality food.
The French don’t eat 5 meals a day
In general, 3 meals a day is enough for the French and the latest theories prove them right. When we stop snacking at all hours of the day and have longer periods of fasting between meals we give the body time to cleanse itself. I guarantee if you try it you will see that you feel lighter, more energized, and alert.
Sitting down to eat is sacred
The French really appreciate the moment when they sit at the table, for them, it’s kind of a ritual and something worth taking time out of their day for. You won’t see someone in France hurriedly eating on the way into the office.
Sitting at the table with family, friends, or work colleagues generates a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere and this has an impact, although it may not seem so, on the way we digest the nutrients from our food. Eating calmly, seated, chewing, and without haste favors good digestion.
Do you already follow any of these habits? Let us know in the comments below!