I often get asked by readers, “How do French women stay so slim?”
It seems like the French diet of baguettes, croissants, cheese fondue, and heavy entrecôtes couldn’t possibly be great for staying thin, so how on earth do French women do it?
After studying closely, here is how French women stay so thin while indulging in all that French cuisine has to offer.
The French Paradox
According to medical research studies, the French paradox exists in relation to the French diet. The French paradox is the fact that there are very low rates of heart disease in France, despite the French people’s very high intake of cholesterol and saturated fat foods. The study concluded that it is perhaps the French penchant for red wine that saves the day! Moderate alcohol drinking seems to have a preventative effect against low coronary heart disease. Of course, there are many other factors at play here!
How French Women Stay Slim
French women are known throughout the world as having it all—style, class, and lean bodies that they proudly show off in bikinis (and even sometimes with not much more than that). This naturally leads to the question of how do they stay so slim? It might surprise you to learn that the French diet is actually one of the largest contributing factors in maintaining their slender figures! As you’ll see in this article, French women make smart and healthy food choices but also rely on several other tricks of the trade when it comes to staying slim. Let’s take a look at some of these tips and see how you can adapt them to your diet!
They Smoke More Often
Let me be clear – smoking is terrible for our health. But there’s no denying that French women smoke a lot more than Americans do A study from France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research found that people who smoke tend to be less hungry and need less food to feel full. The 12-year study also found that women who smoke have waists that are six centimeters smaller than nonsmokers—probably because smoking reduces appetite. While it’s not a good idea to take up smoking, it does help explain why French women are so thin.
They Refuse to Accept Being Overweight
It’s really not socially acceptable to be “overweight” in France, especially in certain circles. While judging someone on their weight is not ok at all, the fact is that French people do this. They see someone overweight as someone who has no self-control. For this reason, they simply refuse to let their weight go, which helps them stay thin.
They Eat Lots of Yogurt
Research suggests that a diet high in protein is one of the most effective strategies for weight loss among French women. Add French yogurt to your next meal—it’s full of protein, tastes delicious, and also provides belly-filling satisfaction. The bonus is that it contains probiotics, which help maintain healthy gut flora—research shows a strong link between poor gut health and obesity. At just 100 calories per cup, it’s an ideal addition to any diet program for women who want to lose weight in a healthy way.
The French Prefer Small Portions
French women know that a little goes a long way when it comes to food. It’s not uncommon for a restaurant meal in France to consist of three courses, including an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. While Americans may see such small portions as a sign of poor quality or stinginess, it’s actually quite normal for French diners—and one reason why they stay slim.
They Wait About 20 Minutes Between Courses
Unlike Americans, who stuff themselves during all-you-can-eat buffets and try to swallow plates of pasta as quickly as possible, French women enjoy eating at a slow pace. The social ritual of dining is more important than eating a huge quantity of food in a short amount of time, which can lead to feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Dinners amongst friends can last several hours! So next time you eat out with friends, ask for another drink of water before you start on your main course!
They Choose Organic Food
More than other foods, organic food has become more prevalent in the world, but with France? It’s been a norm since time immemorial. The average French citizen consumes over 250 grams of fruits and vegetables every day. Organic or not, they are still getting their recommended daily dose of vitamins and minerals from fruits and veggies. There is also an emphasis on cooking at home rather than eating out as much as possible to avoid consuming too many calories from restaurant meals.
French doctors know that lymphatic drainage massage, or LDM, increases skin hydration in just 10 minutes. Research in France shows that lymphatic massage reduces edema (swelling) and cellulite. French women are known to embrace this type of bodywork; perhaps it’s one reason why they appear so slim!
French Women Walk Everywhere
Not surprisingly, not only do France’s stylish women drink wine and eat cheese, but they also get a ton of exercise by walking. The average French woman walks three times as much as their American counterparts. Walking is a great way to burn calories without having to go to the gym!
Don’t Deprive Yourself
While American women reject certain foods outright, the French never deprive themselves of a little pleasure, as long as they eat it in extra small portions. A lot of us think that depriving ourselves will help us lose weight, but actually, it makes us more likely to binge later. If you’re trying to lose weight, make sure you’re not depriving yourself by making healthy food choices and eating enough calories. The best way to do that is to eat a variety of foods from all food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy) every day. Instead of eating a whole slice of cake at a birthday, only eat a few bites.
They Serve Food on Smaller Plates
This one is surprising, but French women actually serve their meals on smaller plates. The portion sizes are still adequate, but it’s a subtle reminder that you don’t need as much food as you think to feel full. It also helps you slow down and savor your food. That’s always good for weight loss. It also serves as a quick visual reminder of everything you consumed throughout your day—so if you’re trying to limit yourself to 2,000 calories per day, eating off of a smaller plate will make that easier.
French Women Eat Whole Foods
The French are famous for their savory pastries and rich sauces, but they don’t live on bread alone. A cornerstone of traditional French cooking is fresh, whole foods like fruit, vegetables, fish, and lean meats—all high in nutrients and healthy fats. By eating meals based on unprocessed foods you not only lose weight safely but also improve your long-term health.
Shop Fresh Vegetables From Local Markets
Many times, processed foods are loaded with unwanted fats and sugars. For this reason, most French women buy fresh vegetables and fruits from local markets in their hometowns. If they can’t make it to a farmers’ market, French women take a trip to their local grocery store and stock up on fruits and vegetables that can be easily prepared for snacks or meals. Fresh produce is generally lower in calories than canned or frozen options, so these items help keep French women slim without feeling deprived.
Don’t Snack Between Meals
French women are not the type that snack between every meal. They tend to have three meals a day, with a small piece of fruit or cheese in between. Snacking has been linked to obesity because it causes people to eat more than they normally would. When you eat more calories than your body needs, those extra calories get stored as fat. If you’re trying to lose weight, try eating three balanced meals per day and avoid snacking in-between.
Eat Slowly and Savor Your Meal
In France, it’s considered good manners to eat slowly and savor your meal. This is a great way to slow down and be mindful of what you’re eating, allowing you to recognize when you’re full. Slowing down while eating also allows your body time to register that it’s no longer hungry and can help prevent overeating. The next time you sit down for a meal with friends or family, try putting away your phone and truly focusing on each other instead of what’s on your plate.
Have a Small Lunch if You Know You Have a Big Dinner Later
You don’t want to have all meals heavy if your goal is to stay slim. French women ensure that one of their meals is light if they know they’ll be getting a bigger meal later in the day. This way, they won’t feel full and therefore won’t eat as much at dinner time. Having a small lunch also helps them avoid snacking on unhealthy food throughout the day.
Lots of Soups and Salads
Eating lots of fresh produce and lean protein can help you feel full without eating too many calories. An easy way to do so is to snack on healthy food throughout your day, like a light soup or a salad. French women also include soups and salads in their meal plan every night of the week. If you want to eat more healthily but aren’t sure where to start, try adding one new soup and salad dish into your diet each week until it becomes a habit.
Drink Lots Of Water
Water keeps you hydrated and it fills you up. French women usually drink one glass of water before each meal and it really makes a big difference in their overall calorie intake. And they think of drinking calories (e.g., sugary soda), they quickly opt out by replacing that beverage with water or ice water. This helps tremendously to control their overall calorie intake for better weight loss success.
For French women, self-care is an undebatable part of the French lifestyle. The culture of treating yourself well and indulging in little pleasures has been ingrained in them from a young age—and it’s a habit that sticks with them throughout adulthood. Whether it’s treating themselves to weekly massages or making time for daily exercise, these little rituals help keep them on track toward their weight loss goals.
The French Start Good Eating Habits Young
The first step to eating well is learning proper habits. If you start them young, you will be setting yourself up for a lifetime of healthy eating. Luckily, in France, starting good habits early is easy when it comes to food—they just need to find creative ways to encourage their children in what they’re doing!
Feeling Good is A Priority
There’s something about being the way you desire to be. For French women, being slim makes them feel happy therefore they work towards every effort that makes them remain slim. From dieting to exercising, all activities involved in between are what contribute to the happiness of these ladies. And that’s precisely why they prioritize it!
Staying slim among French women is not as simple as it sounds; It runs down to a combination of factors. It involves a lot of sacrifice and dedication. But if like French women you make it your daily routine and start early in life, you’ll find it a walk in the park to observe these behaviors.