French Women Don't Get Fat - AKA, I read a book!

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, Messieurs, Mesdames, I am proud to announce that after one year of not so much as getting through the first chapter of a book, I have finished my very first one!

Title: French Women Don't Get Fat
Author: Mireille Guiliano
Pages: 266
Reading time: approximately 1.5 weeks (I think)

One of our clients had left this book upon departure and I picked it up, recognizing the title.  It was a national bestseller at one point a few years ago and I figured it would be interesting to read it as an American whose eating habits have changed after almost 7 years (!!) of living in France.

The author was born in France, learned about eating from her Maman and family doctor, Dr. Miracle (as she calls him in the book) and then eventually moved to America where she is now CEO for the champagne company Veuve Clicquot.  She splits her time between Paris and New York with her American husband.  I was interested in what she had to say seeing as how she was a bi-cultural, bilingual person, with an in-depth experience in both countries I love.

I was pleased to find that I wasn't too far off from already following Mme Guilano's advice. For starters, as I type this, Copain is at our daily marché picking out our fresh fruits and veggies for the week. Mme Guiliano is a BIG advocate for the marché and for spending time choosing your foods for just the next couple of days (none of those two-week shopping sprees at Costco that go on in the good ol' USA).

Where some of the book is a little over the top, or as my Frenchie friends would say un peu too much, I still appreciated the overall message: no diets, no crazy running on a treadmill, no foods that are off-limits. Just moderation, full food enjoyment (finding your vrai plaisir- true pleasure) and full awareness during the choosing, preparation and eating of food.  It was like the yogi's guide to eating - Frenchie style. 

I also fully agreed with her analysis of the American food industry (the woman has been living in the states for a long time, so she's allowed to make comments like this :-) Basically she states that America has done a great job of packaging and marketing processed foods to make them seem healthy.  Unfortunately, Americans completely buy into the low-cal, pre-packaged servings when they could just as easily grab a handful of almonds, a plain yogurt or a fresh piece of fruit.  They could fully enjoy a piece of really good dark chocolate instead of eating a whole bunch of calorie-packed just so-so chocolate.

Mme Guiliano also talks about sitting down to eat instead of eating on the go, compensating the day after a day of indulgences, drinking more water and seeing day to day activities as additional exercise - les petites choses (little things) that can add up to a lot of burned calories.  

She advises against the "American impulse to save a step"saying: We French are not as fiendish about finding shortcuts as Americans are. Perhaps it is why we are no longer a great power, but the trade-off is that we are not fat. (She's funny too!) In life we believe the journey is the destination. If you're not that philosophical, remember it simply: Time saved equals calories not burned. 

After reading her book, every time I get off the metro and I have to choose between the escalator and the stairs, I've been trying to choose the stairs. It's une petite chose, as she says, but it does count as a little bit of exercise.  In that same vein, Guiliano emphasizes that the most fulfilling bites of anything are the first 2 or 3. I've been considering that when I feel like I should finish my dessert because I paid for it, even when I'm feeling full.

It's easier for me to walk more (I walk home from work everyday), drink more water (I grab a glass every time I go to the restroom at work), and really enjoy my food (we sit down to eat lunch amongst colleagues for about a half an hour everyday). But if I was living in the states I think I would find this much more difficult. Would I walk to the supermarket? Would I sit down to eat? I would be interested to hear from an American who has read this book - could you apply this advice to your daily life?

Now that I have successfully read a book (Bravo FCC!), I need to find a new one! I did feel like I neglected my blogs at bit during that time, but it was nice to put the Iphone down and truly enjoy a real book. Une petite chose that that was a vrai plaisir.

My vrai plaisir: baguette from Huré, fresh tomatoes, chevre cheese and pesto!

Merci Mireille


  1. Hi FCC! I discovered your Blog via Angela's, and have enjoyed reading your posts!

    I have a great book recommendation for you: Julia Child's My Life in France. I know that Mme. Child is en vogue since the release of the movie Julie & Julia, but she is one of the most fascinating women I have ever admired. Yes, my fascination with her began with the movie, but it has grown to full-fledged admiration after reading this book!

    Firstly, her writing style is so relaxed and personable that reading her anecdotes is like having her in the room telling you all about them over a cup of cafe au lait.

    The imagery of Paris and various other French cities/towns/countrysides come to life with her vivid descriptions, and the way she describes the food she experiences and creates is absolutely mouth-watering.

    I also love learning about how she started cooking, and the dedicated effort she put into her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

    The relationship between her and her husband is touching and inspiring. They were truly each other's greatest supporters.

    So, when you get the chance, I highly recommend this book! It has definitely inspired me to play in the kitchen, dust off my old "one of these days" France trip itinerary, and give my fiance beaucoup des bises!

  2. Bonjour! I love your suggestion! I saw the movie and loved it too...and what a perfect combo: food and France;-) maybe I can get a copy here before my long flight to LA... Doesn't it seem like a good long haul book to tuck into? I'll keep you posted - Just today I was making a mental packing list and wondering which book I would bring:-) a bientot!


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