In honor of the French national football team (not soccer) winning this year’s World Cup just about a month ago and fact that tonight, Tracy and I will be celebrating our nuptials at Mar’sel, Terranea’s five star French restaurant, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Body Designs 215: French Fare explains the why and how the French may have it right when it comes to eating “well” and staying healthy.
According to renewbariatrics.com, the obesity rate in France is 23.9% (13th in the world with 10,492,144 obese adults). In America it is 33.7% (FIRST in the world with 109,342,839 obese adults in 2017. That is more than a 34% difference!
Why is that?
Well, unlike us Americans who are taught to snack or graze on several small meals throughout the day in order to stay healthy; or the Brits who, according to many, have the unhealthiest diets in Europe (sorry Stalking Horse), downing pint after pint of beef and snacking on crips (chips), chips (fried potatoes) and having biscuits with their tea, the French have not deviated from their traditional schedule of eating three meals a day at specific times with no snacks in between, which has helped them remain one of Europe’s more healthy nations and 15th worldwide. America ranks 34th by the way! In fact, Some studies have the diet of the French ranked as high as third and that of the “Good Ol’ U.S. of A.,” (to quote A. Buncker), dead last!
Believe it or not, as with many people in the U.S., the country of cheese boards, loaves of baguettes, a rout of escargots (snails) cooked with garlic and butter, roasted duck, endless bottles of wine, Chocolate Mousse, etc., eating is seen as a pleasure rather than just fueling the body with what it needs for the day.
But how do they remain in the top 20 of the world’s healthiest nations?
On top of the fact that they don’t snack, the French believe that lunch is more important than dinner. So, they eat their biggest meal, as do Tracy and I, early in the day and have dinner (usually consisting of lighter fare) more as an afterthought. This prevents the body from “starving” by dinner, negating the “need” for a big meal just before turning in. Consuming a calorically dense lunch over dinner also allows the body’s digestive system more hours to process and utilize the calories instead of storing them as fat overnight when the body’s metabolism slows. As many of you know, most Americans do the complete opposite!
The French eat meals together sitting down at a table. We now that, within our borders (now, now, it is just a figure speech), more and more American families don’t eat meals at the same time and also eat plenty of meals on the go. However, in France, if they are not eating with their families, they are sitting down and eating with friends or colleagues. And studies have shown that when people eat meals together, they usually take their time eating which helps speed up the digestive system.
And while the French diet may be more most than ours, their portion sizes are smaller. Enough said.
There are no Children’s Menus in France. That allows the children to eat “adult” food from an early age, never really developing a taste for burgers or dogs or a host of other highly processed, poor nutrition foods.
Almost every meal is consumed with FRESH fruits and vegetables. Not only are these low caloric foods filling, they also provide a high source of fiber which also helps speed digestion.
After researching and writing Body Designs 215: French Fare, I think it is time for us to take a page out of the French Menu AND Playbook! As a people, maybe we should be composing our daily meals similarly to theirs. And for our American football players, maybe they should have respect for our country and stand for our National Anthem like the French and all of the other nations’ players did for their countries during the World Cup!
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