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10 Ways to Make the French Diet Work for You

How to fit French diet strategies into an American lifestyle
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

Americans seem to be fascinated lately by all things French. There isn't just one book from a French perspective professing to help Americans lose weight -- there are handfuls!

We even have "his" and "hers" French diet books now. There's the best-selling French Women Don't Get Fat, written from the female perspective of Mireille Guiliano. And now we have a French man's point of view in the book, The French Diet: Why French Women Don't Get Fat by Michel Montignac.

So what are all these French people telling us to do? And how can we work this information into an American lifestyle?

A member of the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic editorial team who has spent much time in France recently read French Women Don't Get Fat from cover to cover. She came away with 10 gems of French wisdom. Here they are, along with some tips on how to Americanize each one.

1. Variety, Variety, Variety.

Strive for eating a variety of foods at each meal, and during each day and week.

How to Americanize this suggestion: Venture out of your food comfort zone. Select healthy foods you haven't tried yet or recently, and keep an open mind. Don't just go to the same fast-food restaurants -- try new restaurants (you know, the ones that serve healthy options). And fill your (smaller-sized) plate with an assortment of food items, not just a big helping of the entrée. Enjoy a small portion of the main dish along with an assortment of fruits and vegetables.

2. Quality Counts.

Eat three solid meals a day of good-quality foods. Be selective about where you eat and where you buy your food. Enjoy quality breads, meats, cheeses, yogurts, fresh fruits and vegetables, wine, and champagne.

How to Americanize this suggestion: Perhaps out of financial necessity, many of us have gotten into the mind-set that more is better when it comes to food, Don't buy into the idea that quantity is more important than quality. Switch to high-quality foods that are a joy to eat, and that come with a nice supply of nutrients, too. Walk away from junky foods and make every bite count. If it doesn't taste great, don't waste your time (and calories).

3. Pay Attention to Portions.

The key to eating a variety of foods at each meal and enjoying three squares a day while keeping a healthy weight is monitoring portion sizes. Try not to overeat any single item or during any one meal.

How to Americanize this suggestion: The "bigger is better" mentality in America translates into bigger portion sizes (and the more food that is in front of you, the more you will eat). So when you see the words "all you can eat," "supersize," "double," or "jumbo" -- run away! Instead, look for the words, "petite," "individual," "appetizer," "small," or "junior" when dining out or food shopping.

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