Eating can be simple…
I sometimes make it complicated…
Gluten, dairy, sugar, GMO, farm to table, organic, fresh, preservatives, etc. It’s a lot to think about.
I watch my French family eat real butter, bread, chocolate, cream, and dessert. And, don’t forget about cheese. Seriously, never forget about French Cheese! Mmmm!
Yet, they don’t struggle with weight like other cultures do. And they’re arguably healthier than many.
So how and why are they able to live like this?
I’ve been asking myself this for years and watching closely how the French eat in hopes of finding some clues into the why’s and how’s.
I’ll start with, they love food, celebrate food, see it as a companion in life, not a foe.
Below are 3 things I’ve found interesting.
I’ve struggled with my weight and relationship with food in the past and by implementing these and other things I’ve learned, I’ve been able to change my personal and children’s food culture.
(Disclaimer-Of course, please recognize I’m generalizing. “The French” can include many other cultures and individuals who have similar ideologies surrounding food)
1. Demand food be delicious
If you’re French, and going to eat, it needs to be delicious.
There’s a funny story that gets told in my family.
The day after Thanksgiving my husband Alexandre, French and my brother, American were hungry. My mother suggested they use the leftover turkey to make a sandwich.
A few minutes later my brother had finished his turkey scraps stuffed between bread. He ate it standing up and talking as Alex found a tomato, lettuce, avocado, toasted his bread, spread some mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles.
Then Alex sat down with a glass of water and ate his sandwich at the table.
My brother learned an important and powerful lesson that day….remember you have a French brother-in-law when hunger strikes.
We have all experienced an exceptional meal, it’s just the French believe you are entitled to that experience in the everyday.
2. Treat food as the structure and pleasure points of the day. Not as a hassle or afterthought.
It’s like I’m surprised by hunger. It sneaks up on me at inconvenient times.
Busy, busy, busy.
My brain’s dialogue can sound like…
“Shoot I’m hungry, no starving. I can’t hardly even think I’m so hungry, I’m officially hangry. I’ll grab the nearest food and gobble it down.”
Often times I’ve noticed food was just around the corner.
Someone will ask me “Do you want to get something to eat??”
“Well I just ate… but sure, I’ll eat again.” Because I’m craving the social experience behind a meal.
There aren’t surprises when I recast foods role.
When I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at regular but semi-flexible times and don’t skip and don’t snack, my body falls into a routine, it trusts me, it knows it will be fed.
My French in-laws will plan out the meals of the day or week as well as what that means as far as visits to the market or grocery store. They plan for nourishment and pleasure.
3. Respect, don’t fear, hunger.
“Hunger is the best salt”
There is a ying and yang to eating.
Hunger, full, hunger, full……
I try to be aware of these feelings within myself and adjust accordingly.
I find I sometimes still fear hunger, it creates an anxiety inside of me I can only describe as a fear that I’ll never eat again.
So I eat to make the anxiety go away.
I find when I eat as my french family members do, I’m comfortable being hungry knowing that we will all eat together soon. Eating is together time and so I don’t have to forage for food alone. It’s nice to relax, knowing that we’ll all be hungry at roughly the same times.
If you’d like to know more about how you can adopt some “French” ways into your everyday. Subscribe and stay tuned.