Book Reviews & other random stuff

"French women don’t get fat" by Mireille Guiliano

In Books on July 16, 2010 at 11:38 pm

I’ve always struggled with my weight. I’ve gone through periods of being fairly overweight to being vastly underweight. I’ve always had a “belly”; even as a baby I had a little pot belly out the front. I have also never had a good relationship with food. I love food, but mainly the bad stuff. Besides my love for fruit, I will always choose sugar, chocolate & fat over something healthy. When I try to be “healthy” I either fail miserably straight away or go to the extreme & stop eating.
This, I hope, is all about to change.

I’ve heard about “French Women don’t get Fat” for years & have always thought that it sounded like a wonderful premise but have never made the effort to buy & read the book. Before I fell pregnant I was about 15kgs above my healthy weight range. During my pregnancy I put on another approx. 15kgs. (I only weighed myself once during & about a year beforehand). Straight after Lily was born I lost her almost 4kgs of weight plus a bit of water weight. I’ve managed to lose some more through breastfeeding, more walking & watching what I eat a little more but I’d still estimate that I am at least 8kgs above my healthy weight range, possibly more.
But even more importantly, I do not have a good relationship with food. I splurge on the bad stuff & feel guilty. Then, instead of compensating, I just keep going & end up feeling more guilty. This is not something I want Lily to learn from me.
Both Dean & I have a great interest in food; him being a chef it comes naturally & he inspires me. Our greatest pleasure is dining at quality & forward thinking restaurants; the greatest meal we’ve had was at Quay in Sydney (at only $500 for 2 people). But in our everyday lives we eat to sustain ourselves, nothing more, & leave the real pleasure eating for special occasions. I want Lily to have a real appreciation for food; the way it grows, the way it is prepared & presented, the way it tastes & what it can do for our bodies. At the moment, I don’t feel I could properly teach her this.
Which is why I bought this book. It details the tried & true practices of French women (& men) and how easily they can be applied in other cultures (the book is written for Americans but can easily be applied elsewhere). Whilst reading I couldn’t help but think how simple & easy to implement these practices are. Yet they are also practical. It’s all simply about learning what your body needs & shaping your diet, mind & lifestyle to match. This doesn’t mean cutting out all fats or carbs or sugars or anything suddenly & dramatically. Rather it involves identifying those items that you can live without or live with less of. Do you really need 5 slices of bread a day? Could you live with one less spoon of sugar in each coffee? Once you have identified these items you start to gradually cut back; not in a day, a week or a month, but over a 3 month period. Once the 3 months is up you realise that you don’t necessarily need what you were consuming before & it has become such a lifestyle change that you don’t even need to think about it. After this comes “stabilization”, where you work on your diet on a week-to-week basis in order to maintain a steady weight, health & lifestyle. Splurge on bread one night? Go for a longer walk the next day or have one glass of wine with dinner instead of two.
There is more discussed in the book including exercise & portion control, as well as recipes, but this one of the main principles.
Such simple & common sense practices. I wish I was bought up in a culture where this was the norm & there wasn’t such an emphasis on quick & false-pleasurable food.
Now, I haven’t implemented these practices as yet but I plan too. I am currently on holidays but at the start of next week I plan to start, by recording everything I consume (when, what, where, portion size) for 3 weeks to ascertain what I am over consuming & what changes I can make. After the 3 months I will come back & let you know how it goes. By then I hope to be slimmer, healthier, happier & hopefully with lower cholesterol.
But even still, I have started trying to implement things; I am experimenting with sparkling waters to cut down on my intake of soft drink & juice, I am drinking a lot more water, I am making a conscience effort to choose “healthier” meals & take more pleasure in what I eat. I have also been cooking more meals for myself & am excited about visiting a farmers market next week to experience fresher & higher quality food.
I definitely recommend this book. While it falls within the self-help category I don’t feel it falls within the “diet” category. It’s more about changing your mind & your outlook; the food & the weightless just follow.

Please let me know if you have read the book & implemented the practices & how you found it.

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  1. I haven't read the book, but I could have written your post! It will be interesting (for me) to see how you go and how easy or hard you find it. May look it up in the library in the meantime!

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