Sep 2006

French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure – Mireille Guiliano

About: Stylish, convincing, wise, funny and just in time: the ultimate non-diet book, which could radically change the way you think and live.

French women don’t get fat, but they do eat bread and pastry, drink wine, and regularly enjoy three-course meals. In her delightful tale, Mireille Guiliano unlocks the simple secrets of this “French paradox” -– how to enjoy food and stay slim and healthy. Hers is a charming, sensible, and powerfully life-affirming view of health and eating for our times.

As a typically slender French girl, Mireille went to America as an exchange student and came back fat. That shock sent her into an adolescent tailspin, until her kindly family physician, “Dr. Miracle,” came to the rescue. Reintroducing her to classic principles of French gastronomy plus time-honored secrets of the local women, he helped her restore her shape and gave her a whole new understanding of food, drink, and life. The key? Not guilt or deprivation but learning to get the most from the things you most enjoy. Following her own version of this traditional wisdom, she has ever since relished a life of indulgence without bulge, satisfying yen without yo-yo on three meals a day.

Now in simple but potent strategies and dozens of recipes you’d swear were fattening, Mireille reveals the ingredients for a lifetime of weight control–from the emergency weekend remedy of Magical Leek Soup to everyday tricks like fooling yourself into contentment and painless new physical exertions to save you from the StairMaster. Emphasizing the virtues of freshness, variety, balance, and always pleasure, Mireille shows how virtually anyone can learn to eat, drink, and move like a French woman.

Sample of recipes: Magical Leek Soup (Broth), Blueberry Baby Smoothie, Halibut en Papillote, Cooked Pears with Cinnamon, Grilled Pineapple, Endives with Ham without Béchamel Sauce, Pork Chops with Apples, Homemade Yogurt with a Yogurt Maker, Fancy Cream of Carrot Soup, Chicken Au Champagne, Chocolate Rice Pudding

My thoughts: I read an interview with Mireille Guiliano a couple of years ago in the New York Times right about the time when this book was released. Readers wrote in to ask her specifics about why French women don’t get fat. Ever since reading that article I have wanted to read this book, but only recently got the chance.

During the introduction and initial chapters I was slightly put off by the author’s tone (think: teacher/student) because I wasn’t trying to lose weight and I didn’t like a haughty French woman telling me how to approach food. After the lecturing subsided, Mireille’s approach became much more palatable and even insightful.

This book is filled with great advice about the importance of balancing food in life. While none of the information was exactly new to me, her advice was well articulated and resonated with me. A great lesson to take away from French Women Don’t Get Fat is the concept of input/output. When Mireille indulges in a three-course feast, she takes the stairs and eats lightly before the meal. Another fabulous lesson is embracing the pleasures that food offers, rather than feeling guilt-ridden as a lot of women tend to do.

Perhaps the best lesson that the French can teach us is their impeccable taste for everything. The foods that American’s go gaga for (i.e. Krispy Kremes, KFC, Taco Bell) the French would scoff upon. American’s need to develop their taste buds to become more discerning. We should crave fresh baguettes from a corner bakery, not Snickers bars.

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