In seeking to understand the mysteries of diet and weight loss, scientists often turn to take a look at the people of France, who are probably one of the biggest lifestyle paradoxes around. Known for their slim and attractive population, you’ll rarely see an obese person in France. And it is hard to imagine how when you consider that the French drink red wine regularly, eat a high-fat diet and yet have the lowest heart-attack rate in Europe. Plus, what’s more, only 7% of the population is obese, compared to 23% in Britain and likewise for the U.S. So what is the answer to this great dietary enigma? Studies show that it is all about eating small amounts of food at regular intervals, combining fat with fresh foods and working out a lot, plus, always eating breakfast and avoiding skipped meals.
So overall, the approach here is about quality, not quantity. The French eat high-fat foods, in small portions, snack less and eat a healthy mix of fats in the form of heart-healthy unsaturated oils and nuts. Their diet is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, then grains and a wide variety of nutrients and they adhere to serious portion control. A recent study found that French portions were, on average, 25% smaller than those in the US, and meals were eaten more slowly. And the French are more active, which keeps their calorie intake and output in balance.
Here is a sample 1-day eating plan that combines some of the principles mentioned above. Add in least an hour of exercise every day (swimming, jogging), half an hour of aerobics and regular weekend hikes for even more satisfying results.
Breakfast: Organic home-made yogurt, granola (rolled oats, nuts, seeds, honey, rice and dried fruit), fresh chopped fruit, coffee (no sugar)
Lunch: Vegetable soup, roasted chicken, goat's cheese and walnut salad, yogurt, honey and strawberries
Dinner: Green salad, chicken casserole with vegetables, raspberries