What is the French Diet?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2020
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The French diet is a way of eating practiced in French countries. It is often difficult to understand why the French are able to eat high-fat, decadent foods at many meals, yet still stay slim. There are many reasons for this, and though there is no prescribed "French diet," it is possible to apply the eating principles to one's own life elsewhere in the world.

The French diet begins with meal preparation. In general, the ingredients used in meals are high-quality, fresh, and locally grown. The French may visit a number of different stores acquiring ingredients for meals, such as a bakery, a butcher shop, or a market with fresh produce, rather than one huge supermarket filled with heavily processed foods. The intention is to get a smaller variety of quality foods, rather than a large quantity of mediocre foods.


Next, meals in the French diet are prepared with time and care. A meal typically consists of a number of smaller courses stretched out over a longer period of time. In the French diet, it is important to savor the meal, and to truly enjoy every bite. Eating slowly and savoring the food means the body will be better able to indicate when it is full, at which point it is time to stop eating. Conversely, many people in the United States who struggle with weight often find themselves shoveling in as much food as they can in a ten- or twenty-minute window, and the body is not able to send signals that it is full.

There are ways to practice savoring food and eating slowly, as in the French diet. One way is to eliminate distractions when eating; do not watch television, read a magazine, or work on a computer while eating. Instead, sit at a dining table or kitchen counter and try to consciously taste every bite. Some people find it helpful to put their knife and fork down after every bite, or to listen to some relaxing music while eating. In addition, portion sizes are much smaller in the French diet, so begin by putting less food on the plate, and waiting a few minutes after finishing to assess whether one is actually still hungry for seconds.

When following the French diet, it is also important to get some exercise. Try to take the stairs instead of the elevator, for instance. It is also important to drink plenty of water. Finally, it is important to allow some indulgences, as well as to not get too upset because of an "off" day of poor eating. Simply try the French diet again the next day.



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