Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Un-American Diet

Today I started and finished reading "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Mireille Guiliano. In the book, the author, who was born and raised in France, points out that even though French women eat 2 or 3 course meals 1 or 2 times a day, they never seem to gain weight. The author was a skinny woman herself, until she did a one year exchange program in high school and lived in Boston. During that time she gained 20 pounds and was embarrassed to come home. She now lives in America, but still manages to practice a French diet. The book is geared towards people who need to lose up to 30 pounds, and not for emergency medical reasons.

The first thing that the author mentions is that the American diets obviously don't work. Once you have quickly lost weight, it is easy to gain back. Her French "diet" is a lifestyle change and more of a "slow and steady" diet. It works because it is not "one size fits all" like many American diets, and it doesn't contradict itself!  One minute there is an American diet book out about how carbs are bad, and it is quickly followed up by a diet book that says that all you should eat are carbs.

She encourages the reader to start off their new lifestyle change by keeping a diary of everything that they eat, including where and when.  When she did this, she found that she was eating a lot in the middle of the day, while she was walking to and from class, because she would pass several pastry shops or bistros along the way. The scent of the French food would always get to her, and she would order a pastry. While she was looking at her food diary, she was able to pick out "problem" foods.  For her, the problems were sweets.  After you have kept the food diary for 3 weeks, you spend 3 months resetting your body's cravings for food.  She starts you off by drinking leek soup broth for 2 days, which sounds pretty disgusting to me, but I think maybe you could skip that part.
Anyways, for 3 months, you find different ways to cut the problem foods out of your diet. She suggests doing one "treat" on Saturdays. She suggests different things like never eating standing up, never eating out of the carton, and really considering how much one "portion" weighs (about as much as an apple.) For example, if you are eating 1/2 a pound of meat with your meal, that is TOO MUCH.  Apparently, after a few bites of a food, your taste buds basically "tune out" so your portion really only does need to be a few bites, and you should eat one thing on your plate at a time so that you can fully appreciate the full flavor of the foods that you are eating.

After 3 months has passed, you should be half-way to your goal weight.  If so, you can slowly start to give yourself more "treats," but she says that you will often find that you no longer desire them. She suggests that if sweets are your weakness, you could maybe have a small piece of good quality dark chocolate as a little treat in between lunch and dinner.  If you haven't reached the half-way mark yet, look for more ways to take the problem foods out of your diet.

There are so many other things I could say about this book, but I don't want this to turn into a novel.  You should read the book!  It's an easy and quick read. I am definitely going to try out the diet concepts that are talked about.

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