The French Paradox

My diet in France, September 2013. 

My diet in France, September 2013. 

The French Paradox means that although French people are known for eating food high in calories and saturated fat, they paradoxically have a lower incidence of obesity, heart disease and other assorted health problems. There is a common belief that French women don't get fat, and after a 10 day trip filled with French fare, I have come to conclusion that this belief should be slightly altered.  

These common rules can be applied to any cuisine and should be used when dieting or maintaining a healthy weight:

1. Flavor - Herbs de Provence is a Provencial mixture of rosemary, basil, bay leaf, lavender, thyme and marjoram frequently used in French cooking along with olive oil, chevril, mustard and shallots.  In general when food is bland, larger amounts need to be consumed in order to feel satisfied-- so spice it up! When heavily spiced and flavorful, smaller portions are needed.  

2. Portion Control - I never tell any of my patients to completely restrict certain foods that may be labeled as "bad" especially if one of these foods happen to be their favorite.  It is truly all about finding balance and practicing self control.   

3. Eat When Hungry  - This is such a basic concept, yet so heavily ignored; most of what we consume is fueled by emotions.  Feeling bored, lonely, sad or avoidant are common reasons why people eat--especially those who are overweight.  You should consciously make an effort to ask yourself if you are hungry or just feeling an uncomfortable truth you don't feel like facing. 

4. Move! - While in France I was constantly walking around while sight seeing, but my croissant consumption inspired me to find some French hills in Provence to run up and down. Exercise is crucial not only for weight control, but as as a healthy way to do detox your stress and anxiety. 

5. Pace - I think we can all agree that New York is one big rush! I found quite the opposite while traveling; meals in France are meant to be savored and can go on for hours. Though it may be your natural impulse to "shovel" in food, eating slower will guarantee a more enjoyable and satisfying meal.  You will definitely eat less due to an increased awareness that happens when you take a breath before the next bite!

6. Moderation is KEY. I repeat--KEY. Nothing is completely off limits, as long as you don't overdo it.