What’s In The French Diets That Keeps French People Skinny

Few days ago, I came across someone online asking the question, how French people who eat so much rich food can stay skinny? While I was sending the person a quick reply to that question, I thought I would write a whole blog post on the subject to try to explain this from what I know.

First, let me remind you that I am from France. At this time in my life I still have spent the better part of my life there. So, yes I am qualified to talk about the subject (in case you’re wondering). On the other hand, I have also been spending enough time in the United States to know a thing or two about the food habits of Americans as well.

There are probably several reasons why French people are smaller in size in general than Americans in general, but in my opinion, the three main reasons for are the following ones:

  • French don’t believe much in junk food and snacks
  • French eat more natural food and less process food
  • French eat larger lunches and smaller dinners

If you were able to examine closely or count how much junk food and snacks your typical coworker consumes in a week, you might be shocked. Or maybe you have, like I did!

What about you?  How many vending machine snack bags are you consuming in a week? How many bottles of soda? How many snacks are you consuming in a day, but more importantly, what is your snack made of?

Now, if your snacks consisted of a couple of carrots, some cereals or a yogurt, you’d be fine, but how many people actually do that? For someone coming from France, I had never seen so many adults eating unhealthy snacks until I’ve got to the US.  The unhealthy snacks have got to have an impact on your weight.

French People and Snacks

French people don’t believe much in snacks. As a matter of fact, during my time living in France I can’t really remember seeing adults eat snacks, unless it was more like a small meal to compensate between a very early breakfast and late lunch. For example, when I was little the recurring comment from my mother was that snacks cut your appetite and prevent you to have a full healthy meal. This still reasons in my head.

The truth is that sacks might or might not cut your appetite, but it will definitely add to your calories intake when it’s not a healthy snack. What I call dead calories will make your gain weight while not being nutritive to your body at all.

So, if you want to be lean like the French, cut back on unhealthy snacks and replace them with more healthy choice. Or, eat a bigger breakfast and Lunch and you won’t even need a snack at all.

French People and Processed Food

French people eat way less processed food then Americans do. A very simple reason why is that they cook more. As a child growing up in France, I can’t remember a day when my mother fed us processed food. Everything was homemade cuisine, and gosh, delicious too.

If you ate the same amount, or even the same kind of food while one type being processed and one being fresh, the fresh food will always be best, not only for your health which of course is the most important, but for your weight control as well. Processed food is responsible for weight gain and fat to a large degree.

Cut on the processed food and cook more at home.  Get yourself a great French cook book and try it!

French Lunch and Dinner

Any weight control expert would tell you that the worst killer meal when it comes to gaining weight is dinner. If you don’t want to gain weight, do like the French people do.  Eat larger meals at lunch and smaller meals at dinner.

In France it’s custom to eat more at lunch time and less at dinner time. Even when you invite guests on Sunday (it’s a French common tradition) it’s a lunch feast. In such case, dinner is sometimes completely skipped or very light. Of course, people do go to restaurants to dinner on occasions, but it’s not something one does on a daily basis. Most people don’t even eat dinner out on a weekly basis, but more like occasionally.

However, even for those who might go out to dinner once or twice a week, don’t forget that French restaurant portions are way smaller than American restaurants portions are.  Also, French people drink rather wine, juice or water during meals while soda is almost none existent.  The sugar and calories contained in a glass of soda is alarming.

So, there you have it. You might be thinking that those reasons why French people are skinnier than Americans are not such a big deal, but you would be wrong. Such reasons (there might be more) are the main reasons why there is a difference in overall general people’s size.

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8 Comments

  • Elise Walsh says:

    Moral of the story. Move to France! It is true, I start my day with Dunkin Donuts and end it with a large meal at 9 p.m. The French are often getting much more nutritional value of each meal because the sources of food are generally from nearby and have lost less vitamins and essentials because of less travel.
    Good post! Another reminder of why I need to move!

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Elise,

      Sorry for the late reply. You’re comment got lost in moderation lane. Yes, the French tend to get more nutritional value per meal and less sugar and fat for the most part. For example, less soda and more wine 🙂

      Thanks for coming by and, please, come back 🙂

  • Annie AndreTwitter: annieandrehacks says:

    This is so funny, i’ve written a post on this same thing. France is 128th fattest nation with 40 percent of the population overweithg vs the US which is 9th fattest and 76 percent of the population is overweight.
    That does look good but what i didn’t mention in the article is that France population used to be much less fat 10 years ago and at the rate of change they will catch up to the us by 2020. Mostly due to the introduction of processed foods.
    I hope it doesn’t happen but i have noticed more availability of chips and varieties of sweet unhealthy food in the stores over the past few years. Still way less than the US and Canada. I wish the US had less of an influence on the rest of the worlds eating habbits and i think McDonalds should be blown up into itty bits. But i digress.
    Annie Andre invites you to read..10 Reasons Why French Women Don’t Get Fat: Adventures In France #4My Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Annie,

      I know I’ve been going around your blog a lot these past few days and I’ve noticed that you’d written an article about that.

      I would be so, so very sad if those crazy French people adopted some of the bad eating habits of the US. I can’t stand how people eat here. Sometimes I want to ask them if they are retarded or what? Really, it’s that upsetting to me 🙂

      When I see that, I thank God for having had a mother who never let any processed food enter the house and taught me how NOT to be lazy with cooking.

      By the way, my next post (coming Friday) was inspired by your blog about living abroad. I talk about you in the post 🙂

      Also, I would love to have an interview post as you as my guest 🙂 But, I’ll ask this again more formally. Hope you’ll say yes 🙂

      • Annie AndreTwitter: annieandrehacks says:

        It is so sad isn’t it the way Americans eat. The schools are partly to blame. they offer burritos, tacos and even fast food like mcdonalds on school property. This type of eating sanctinoed by schools makes it a way of life for kids to eat.
        It pisses me off to i want to throw burritos at people.. Anyways,
        I’ll be sure to stop by on Friday. and i would love to do an interview..

        au revoir.
        Annie Andre invites you to read..Worlds Best Lover: Are The French The Hottest Lovers? Adventures In France #5My Profile

        • Sylviane Nuccio says:

          yeahahahhahahah!!!!! Very excited that you accepted my invitation 🙂
          I will prepare like 10 questions about your living abroad and just send them to you which ever way you want me to receive them.

          Wow, this is going to be a great post. It will be a perfect follow up of this week post.

  • Andrei says:

    Hi Sylviane,
    I was browsing here in your blog for topics that are related to food diet and was very curious and very intrigued by the title of this post.
    I now want to imitate the eating habits of French people. Seems like it’s the ideal eating habit and I think French people are healthier and more resistant to sickness compared to other countries.
    Glad I read this post.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Andrei,

      I’m glad you ended up on my blog and enjoyed this post. I do think that in general French are healthier and skinnier than Americains. Two main reasons for this, French each less processed food and smaller portions. Those two things also can make a huge difference.

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