on 25 February 2005
As an overweight American woman of 31, I want to comment on this book. Never having been to Europe, I am not aware of the cultural food practices of Western Europe, but can tell you that America is a fat nation.
We too often eat garbage on the run, and inhale "low fat" foods en masse, and then wonder why we are fat and tired. I live in New Jersey, outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was the "Fattest City in the US" not too long ago. It's true! People don't walk, they drive short distances and are often too "busy" for exercise.
I love the book because it exposes the lie of convenience foods and reinforces that Americans are overdosing on sugar and refined flours. I've heard several people, both Americans and Europeans compare the sugar content and portion size with European food. We are refined in our eating, but not in a food way. We are overprocessed and undernourished.
I have started buying "good food" and preparing meals from scratch. I have cut out packaged snacks and the like.
Guess What? IT WORKS! I have lost 10 lb and feel better than I have in a long, long time. I have less gastric discomfort (blush) and am generally feeling healthy and more fit.
I found the French viewpoint refreshing, not snobbish. I won't be cooking with $35 champagne, but gleaned lots of helpful tips from the book.
I really feel the book is geared towards the fast food nation, the USA. Let us eat our cake, if only a small slice!
on 28 February 2005
Most diets don't work. Why? Because the people who follow the diets are dieting. We deprive ourselves of the food we love until we reach a goal. That could take years! Or we eat the foods we love in minute portions, mere tastes. Does one half cup of dark chocolate ice cream satisfy anyone? If one chooses to stick with a diet program forever, an almost permanent state of slimness occurs. Voila! Forever is a long time to live with deprivation...to state the obvious. And usually somewhere between resolution and goal, comes the binge. But I won't go there. Almost all of us have experienced this seeming endless cycle of weight management. Dieting has become an obsession! According to Mireille Guiliano's fascinating and sensible book, however, one can moderate and modify behavior and eat sensually - like the French. Bid deprivation adieu. Savor the food and wine you love and loose the fat you hate.
"French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure" holds no secrets - no new weight loss methods are revealed here. REALLY! As a matter of fact, from page one, the author distances herself from all the popular fad diets. Mireille Guiliano, President and CEO of Cliquot Inc., is an extremely smart, savvy woman and tres chic to boot! Everything she writes here rings true, makes perfect sense and is beautifully penned. "French Women Don't Get Fat," (which is not totally true - I saw some pretty hefty women, even in Paris!), makes for a good read, provides food for thought, more than a soupcon of wit, and some wonderful recipes: Zucchini Flower Omelet, Aasparagus Tart, a Plum Clafouti made without dough, Salad of Duck a l'Orange, Grilled Peaches with Lemon Thyme, Chicken au Champagne, Croissants, and even Mousse au Chocolat.
"The French Paradox," the ability to eat good food, drink fine wine, (or beer), and remain slim is apparently a matter of attitude, with a smidgeon of wisdom and a pinch of common sense thrown in for good measure. The French are notorious for wining and dining, yet they are thinner and healthier than calorie conscious Americans - and Brits too! Mireille attributes the French women's penchant for slimness to their attitude toward food, which focuses on the best and freshest ingredients consumed in moderation, and frequent, brisk walking. It is all a matter of restraint and simple exercise. Madame Guiliano quotes Colette, who once described the table as "a date with love and friendship." Be good to yourself, be good to your body, and enjoy! This is Mireille's basic message. One of the main messages I received from the book is "savor, don't stuff."
The emphasis is on the positive - more dos than don'ts. But you know all this - right? Do eat slowly. Do drink wine with meals, (one glass), along with a glass of water. Eat plenty of fruit, veggies, et la salade vert. Oui? Eat three meals a day. And indulge yourself occasionally, with moderation. Have 3/4 of a cup of ice cream, and if you are having a salad for lunch with olive oil and vinegar, or fresh lemon juice, indulge in a full cup! As for chocolate, and she is a big chocolate fan, eat it, relish it. Hold it in your mouth and let it melt; exercise those taste buds. Don't eat on the sly, as we sometimes tend to do. Food does not taste as good when served along with a portion of guilt. There's hardly a mention of calories in the entire book. Refreshing!
Mireille does share personal anecdotes, memories of growing up in a close knit family with a mother and grandmother who cooked. One of her stories, in particular, remains with me. She came to the US when she was 18 and spent a year as an exchange student in the affluent Boston suburb of Weston, MA. And did she ever discover the joys of brownies, chocolate chip cookies, bagels, and American-sized portions. She gained 20 pounds that year. Her father didn't recognize her when she returned to France. He told her she looked like a sack of potatoes. Cruel? Honest. This made an impression on the young woman, which remains with her to date. She did something about it too, with the help of her family physician. A natural raconteur, Ms. Giuliana also shares memories of her first taste of champagne at age six, picking tiny wild blueberries, (called myrtilles), in the woods near her grandmother's house, and a most memorable experience eating oysters at a seaside restaurant in Brittany.
This is the ultimate non-diet book. It is up-beat, life affirming, sensible and I really enjoyed reading it! You will too!!
Whenever I have traveled to France, I have found myself marveling at two things:
1. I usually lose weight even though I eat great meals and drink more wine than at home;
2. I see a smaller percentage of obese people (especially women) than in any other developed country I visit.
After much observation and discussion, I've concluded in the past that the French provide smaller portions of everything, don't go in for "all you can eat" buffets, eat less processed food, make things delicious so that they are more satisfying in smaller quantities, and walk a great deal compared to Americans. More recently, I've noticed that most of the food is nouvelle so there isn't much fat, sugar or starch in it.
Voila! That's exactly the conclusion that Ms. Guiliano makes as well as she recounts her journey from becoming a fat teenager as an exchange student binging on brownies in my current hometown of Weston, Massachusetts to prospering as a slim French woman married to an American in the United States. In addition, she is CEO of Clicquot, Inc. which means that she regularly indulges in Champagne rather than the red wine that so many believe helps keep the French slimmer.
As I read the book, I realized that Ms. Guiliano captured most of the best lessons of the South Beach Diet which I used successfully last year. The main difference between the recommended eating plans is that Ms. Guiliano has you start by creating an eating diary. With this diary, you figure out where you have bad eating habits. Then you begin to gradually reduce those eating habits in ways that leave you feeling comfortable and happy. The South Beach Diet briefly slashes (for two weeks) your intake of fats and carbs so that any insulin problems you have developed can be overcome.
If you wanted to use Ms. Guiliano's advice and the South Beach diet, you could combine them by doing the eating diary, then doing stage one on South Beach and then combining both sources for recipes and eating advice as you continue to lose and then maintain your weight. I thought that Ms. Guiliano had the better advice on maintenance.
I've also watched my wife eat a broad variety of foods frequently and in small quantities, walk a lot and easily keep her weight under control. Her experience also validated Ms. Guiliano's observations for me.
But for me, the best part of this book is partaking of Ms. Guiliano's many expressions of joie de vivre relating to food. I've come to appreciate my forays into buying fresh fruit and vegetables and preparing them in new ways. She explains the many joys of that pastime very well. Her recipes are simple to make and seem intriguing. I intend to try many of them.
Her writing is a delight, dropping in lots of little French phrases to give the book a particular charm. N'est-ce pas?
The books I enjoy the most are the ones that introduce me to someone I would like to have as a friend. Ms. Guiliano ranks above almost all writers in this regard, especially among the normally oh-so-serious nonfiction authors who preach to us rather than love us as we are. Ms. Guiliano clearly loves the slim person hiding within us, along with our passions for certain foods and eating events.
Whether you are looking to lose weight or not, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to enjoy life more. Pourquoi pas?
on 18 November 2012
I love this book, it was a gift from my Mum when we moved to France and I really enjoyed reading it. I learnt quite a few good healthy living tips from it and it has since become a treasured possession. At the time I did have a number of kilos to shift and the free flowing wine and cheese here in France wasn't helping! I liked the case studies and the simple way she puts it - weight loss is no mystery you just have to balance what goes in with how much you move. Taking stock of what you eat and integrating movement into your daily lifestyle is key. I must admit being in France with time, an orchard, a vegetable garden and a dog to walk has helped us to do this. Things are a bit different from our previous life where an hour and a half sitting on a train commuting to London, all day sat at a desk then another hour and a half back on the train were normal.
The thing I rather amusing however is that the one thing she keeps banging home is that French women don't waste money on gym membership as they are sensible enough to take the stairs rather than the lift and walk rather than go by car. A good idea definitely, but she has never been to my bit of France that is obvious. Our village is small, but all the French kids arrive at the bus stop by car, and if there is anything on at the salle des fêtes they all drive, needless to say some of the French ladies in the village could do with reading her book!
on 9 April 2005
This is an excellent book for serial dieters who want to get off the starve\binge\penance treadmill. It is all about throwing away the Anglo-Saxon puritan attitudes that make us hate our food, hate ourselves and, ultimately, get fatter. Instead, you can eat great food while focusing on balance and variety instead of rules, embrace the pleasure of food instead of seeing it as an enemy to be conquered, and start eating like a normal human being again.
Trust me - you will lose weight, slowly but surely, if you follow the recommendations in this book.