Over the summer I spent three weeks in France with my in laws. We had a fabulous time – two weeks in St Raphaël in the Cote d’Azur and ten days in Belle-Île-en-Mer off the coast of Brittany.
I have so many beautiful memories; walks along the beautiful Breton cliffs, lazy aperitifs overlooking the Mediterranean after a day on the beach and lots and lots of dinners and drinks with my fabulous French family.
Some of my favourite food is French – fromage, chocolat, vin rouge.
I always come back from trips to France a little wobblier than normal – don’t we all, it’s part of what makes a holiday fun! I believe we must really live life and make the most of its pleasures – celebrating and relaxing over food and wine is one of these true pleasures. Beautiful memories in the making.
Non, je ne regrette rien!
I have spent quite some time in France over the past 15 years and while not everyone is the same, this approach to food and alcohol is incredibly admirable.
Food and drink is part of their wonderful culture. It is in their blood. From the outside it seems almost like a sacred ritual.
Food for them is life enhancing and pleasurable. It is not something to fear or feel guilty about. I have rarely heard a French woman berating herself for having too much bread or overdoing it on the desert. They love to eat, they enjoy food but they know how to stop!
They have their cake and eat it, but just a sliver!
Their ability to approach food and drink with an incredibly healthy and balanced attitude is admirable.
Everything has its place.
Aperitif comes first, bien sûr, and is usually rosé, white or Pastis. Red tends to be enjoyed over dinner. Once the meal is done the wine stops and “les digestifs” arrive in the form of whiskey, brandy, rum or a coffee if you prefer. They rarely open another bottle if dinner is over – a shock to the Irish system – and linger rather over a coffee or beer maybe.
They eat white bread.
Everything that we try to avoid- bread, sugar, white foods -they eat! They have bread at EVERY meal – but just one or two pieces. They drink alcohol more frequently than we do – but a lot less quantities and it’s generally centered around food. They rarely snack and rather tend to have three big meals per day.
There are several courses but they are small.
They make lots of food but serve small portions, taking their time while eating and going for seconds if really needed, but this is generally not the case.
There is time in between each course which allows you to digest, enjoy and gauge how hungry you are for the course to follow. Unlike us Irish who tend to wolf our food down as if it’s the last bite we’re gonna have for a year! Bless us!
During my first few visits to France and even still to this day I am truly in awe of their ability to STOP. All of that lovely food and wine, surely we need to eat every last bit even if we are feeling full and almost nauseous, right?
French women don’t diet.
They don’t remove food groups or restrict themselves to miserable fads that do not work! They approach food and exercise in a very, very balanced way. If they have too much the day before, they’ll be more balanced the following day but there are rarely extremes and it appears to work for them.
Sit, eat and be merry!
You will see this if you travel to France – Frenchies sit and eat. They take time out for lunch and tend to eat with others – both are key to eating healthy. When we mindfully eat we tend to make better choices, we aren’t in a rush and motivated purely by stress and hunger. When we eat with others we eat slower as we are chatting and distracted – it’s a social activity, a positive experience.
If we make food and eating a positive experience rather than something that needs to be feared or avoided then our relationship with food can and will improve and with that our diet, body image and self-confidence too.