Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Finally! The Book Review Everyone's Been Asking About

FRENCH WOMEN DON'T GET FAT
The Secret of Eating For Pleasure
by Mireille Guiliano

As I have said several times when being peppered for comments about this book, it reminds me strongly of a 20-year-old book about dieting using behavior modification. That book made an unbelievable difference in my life. I always had been overweight and my parents had put me on every diet around (I knew Atkins when it was new, ok?). Using behavior modification and starting an aerobics class allowed me to lose 72 pounds in 9 months. It's amazing how much more aware a few habits can make you such as putting down your fork between bites, taking 20 minutes to eat, a sip of water between bites, etc. It was the "non-diet diet." What's more those habits became so ingrained that I kept it off for 7 years (after that I had kids and all my good habits slid away ... but that's another story. Ahem.).

French Women Don't Get Fat tells us that an entire nation of women grow up with these good eating habits. I have a hard time believing some of Guiliano's assertions. Somewhere I am sure there are some fat French women who don't happily dash up and down stairs in their pumps at the drop of a hat, after dining on a tiny but delicious portion of dinner. I believe her when she ways we should drink more water but if I drank water every night before going to bed I know I'd be getting up at least once before the alarm went off.

However, I think most of what she says probably is true and, from my personal experience, I think most of the techniques that she describes work. Stripped of the French charm, which is a quite enjoyable way of learning the message, a partial list includes:
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Enjoy quality not quantity (savor your food and eat slowly)
  • Don't think of food as bad
  • Eat a wide variety of foods including lots of fruit and vegetables
  • Drink lots of water
  • Don't eat until you're stuffed
  • Always eat sitting at a table and not on the run, standing up, or in front of the TV.
  • Add exercise to everything you do (walk more, take the stairs, park on the far side of the parking lot)
  • Plan for your indulgences and enjoy them (have less at some other time)
In other words, change how you eat and at least half the battle is won. The above list is by no means complete and looks much more intimidating than when reading through Guiliano's book. I highly recommend it because she includes tips, recipes, a good dose of sympathy as one who has "been there", and plenty of Gallic charm. Now that I have been reminded of all those good habits, it's time for me to remember that I am part French and start eating like it!

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