The Benefits of Eating Like The French, In Three Steps

TheSkinny: We’ve wondered this before, but now that life has slowed down, we wanted to revisit: How do the French seem to maintain a healthy weight despite their diet of decadent cheeses, bread, wine at each meal (we have even witnessed, and admired, “breakfast wine!”), and exquisite displays of pastries at every corner?  Turns out, slowing down is indeed one of the secrets. While there is a best-selling book on the topic, which you should read over a glass of rosé, we found a WebMD article (penned by a registered and licensed dietician) outlining key takeaways from her personal travel experience researching this topic. We’re serving up the French crib notes, here:


  • Portion control. When we lived in France, we ate an entire baguette a day. The French don’t. It’s that simple. As the article points out, a “sandwich” in France is a very trimmed-down version of the American expectation. And since they’re eating smaller portions, they don’t focus on “low-fat” versions, they prefer to enjoy the real thing.
  • Enjoying meals and avoiding snacking. Instead of grabbing-on-the-go…eat three meals, take time to savor your meal — and the company; — even if you’re alone. This helps avoid the urge to snack. The writer also points out that the French eat a lot of protein-packed yogurt, which helps you feel full. And anecdotally, she said that the yogurt aisle in France was as large as a typical “snack” aisle in the U.S.
  • Walking. NYC might be one of the most French-minded American cities, in this respect, since we walk just about everywhere. But in many other parts of the country (or world), walking is less a part of the culture than it is in Europe. And if walking isn’t for you, then bike.
Quelque chose to try: Crepes, the “French version of pancakes!” Here’s a breakdown on the nutrition content of crepes but, for example, one 10” diameter crepe has about 90 calories, while a 4” pancake has 94 (and you’d probably have three of them). Cookware purveyor Indigo True not only sells a nice looking set of crepe-making tools, but also has a lovely video on how to make foolproof classic French crepes. Tip from our tester: Make two batches, splitting the batter in two bowls: One sweet (adding sugar and vanilla), and one savory (adding salt). And don’t forget to freeze the ones you’re not using.

Finally, in homage to French wine, and because we have all been in this desperate situation before, here’s how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. We applaud Bright Cellars for their cleverly-named blog (Glass Half Full), but also for these hacks—which include using a loafer, a screw and your own brute strength.

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