Why French Women Don’t Get Fat


French dietLast month, a friend of mine gave me the book titled French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. “I found it at a garage sale and totally thought of you” she said. As a Certified Nutritionist and Wellness Consultant, I counsel groups and individuals on how to reverse diseases and chronic health conditions using food as their medicine, and I feel fortunate to have been raised in France, where eating for your health is part of the culture.

Why French Women Don’t Get Fat

It’s a basic and anthropological truth: French women eat as they like and don’t get fat. Why? Could it be by nature alone? Could the slow wheel of evolution have had time to create a discrete gene pool of slender women? I doubt it. What I have come to understand after living in the USA for over 20 years and embracing the American culture, is that the French traditionally think and act in relation to food and life in a very different way than what we commonly do on this side of the Atlantic.

Sixty-five percent of Americans are overweight, and the fastest-selling books are diet books, most of them now written like biochemistry manuals. And the demand persists. Why? Why don’t the million-copy wonders put a definitive end to our woes? In my opinion: unsustainable extremism!

Most diet books are based on radical programs. Apart from a brief Jacobin interlude in the eighteenth century, extremism has never been a French way. America, however, gravitates toward different philosophies, quick fixes, and extreme measures. These work for a time, but they are no way to live. It does not help matters that one extreme is contradicted by the very next one to gain traction. Who does not remember the high-carb days? Nowadays, carbs and fats are the evil and everything is about proteins. The truth is, if you only eat one food group, you will eventually get bored with food, so after you stop the radical program, the pounds will come back. Besides, extreme programs lack attention to the individuality of one’s metabolism. So, your call to action is: Banish your diet books today!

Ok, so what are the secrets of the French to stay lean? Here are the top four:

Secret #1: The French eat slowly: It takes about 20 minutes after you eat for your brain to recognize food has entered your system. So, if it takes you less than that to eat your meal, chances are you will overeat and then feel stuffed before you can realize you have had enough to eat. You cannot rush a French person through a meal. After living in the USA for almost twenty years, I am still the last one to finish my plate at any meal!

Secret #2: The French eat real, wholesome, colorful foods: The body is designed to eat foods, not chemicals. Unfortunately, 90% of packaged foods have additives & coloring agents that make them pretty to look at & extend their shelf life. If you can’t pronounce the name of the ingredient and don’t know what it is, don’t buy it, don’t eat it, period. The same goes for any supplement you may be taking. If not made of whole foods, it will poison your body.

Secret #3: The French eat high quality foods: The quality of your food (not the quantity) is the most important factor in maintaining a balanced, functional body. So, eat fresh organic produce daily, eat grass fed or wild caught animal foods (at least 80% of the time if budget is tight), drink clean water (meaning filtered or spring), in the amount of ½ your body weight in oz, daily. As a result, you will: keep most toxins out, lose unwanted fat, sleep better, have more energy, reduce inflammation & pain, build a strong immune system, keep diseases at bay, and even reverse most like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, cancer.

Secret #4: The French eat with their heads: We no longer work eighteen hours a day in a mine or a farm, and our Paleolithic hunter-gatherer days are long past. Nevertheless, most Americans eat 10 to 30 percent more than needed, not to survive, but to satisfy psychological hunger. Start eating mindfully, to nourish your body & your mind. This means to pay attention to what you eat, and quit the texting, e-mailing, calling all your clients, watching TV, driving while you eat.

I challenge you to start incorporating these 4 principles in your life today and feel the positive results for yourself (and those around you!). Please e-mail me your feedback, as I would love to hear how it is helping you change your life.

isabelle wellness logo

Isabelle M. Simon, M.A., C.N.
Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner
Certified Nutritionist & Wellness Consultant
Optimal Health Through Customized Nutrition & Wellness Programs




4 thoughts on “Why French Women Don’t Get Fat

  • August 18, 2015 at 6:57 am

    Good post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this
    subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further.

  • February 7, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Hello, I am really surprised and rather shocked that this article is not attributed to the book of the same name (though the article’s author added the “Why…”) “French Women Don’t Get Fat” was published 11 years ago, and was written by a French woman. It should be mentioned, to be fair. Please add this to your article or at least mention that’s where the ideas came from. Thank you.

    rench Women Don’t Get Fat
    by Guiliano, Mireille
    ISBN: 1400042127
    Release Date: December, 2004
    Publisher: Knopf

    • February 7, 2015 at 9:20 am

      woops, left out the “F” on the publishing material!

  • January 4, 2015 at 4:43 pm

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