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10 Ways to Make the French Diet Work for You

How to fit French diet strategies into an American lifestyle

4. Slow Down.

Enjoy several small dishes over several courses, allowing your body to let you know when you've had enough.

How to Americanize this suggestion: You don't win when you're the first to finish your meal -- you lose. If you eat fast, you're more likely to eat more than your body needs. Junk food and fast food is everywhere you turn in America, and there's something about this kind of food that makes us eat it fast, too. Think of your meals not as something to get through quickly, but something to take your time with and enjoy. Try breaking your dinner into several courses. Serve salad or soup first, then follow with a small portion of the main dish, then perhaps a serving of fresh fruit. See how that changes how much you eat and how much you enjoy the meal. You can also slow down by paying attention to chewing each bite, by taking sips of a beverage between bites, and by having great conversation or company at mealtime. And try using a fork and knife for foods you normally eat with your hands (such as pizza, chicken strips, or tacos).

5. Joie De Vivre.

That's French for having a joy of life. Enjoy what you eat. Take your time with your meals, eat only while sitting down, and focus on enjoying what you are eating. Lose any feelings of guilt about good food and good wine.

How to Americanize this suggestion: Don't be distracted during mealtime by the television, books/newspaper, or your computer. Eating should be a pleasurable experience. Go out of your way to make each meal or snack enjoyable. Find what works for you: maybe playing classical music, eating outside on your deck, lighting candles, using your best china and silver?

6. Sensible Pleasures.

If you love chocolate, regularly treat yourself to small amounts of high-quality chocolate. Deprivation can lead to overindulgence.

How to Americanize this suggestion: We tend to be an "all or nothing" society. But there is such a thing as moderation. If there's a food you really love, learn to enjoy small amounts of it when the time is right. Wait until you're truly hungry (or thirsty if it's a beverage), then go to a quiet, special place and savor every bite. If your pleasure is chocolate, you may be happy with a few slow, sensual bites rather than needing to choke down an entire bar. If you adore fancy cheese, enjoy it with some slices of fresh pear (or other fruit) and make it part of your meal!

7. Exercise is Part of the Equation.

Trade in the American concept of "save a step" for the idea of "walk as much as possible." Use a pedometer if you think it will help remind you to move. Guiliano says that there's no need to slave away on a machine at the gym if you just add more walking to your day. She suggests buying some hand weights and using them two to three times a week for arm and upper-body strength.

How to Americanize this suggestion: The typical American lifestyle, with commutes and computers, sets us up for being sedentary. And many Americans simply aren't the "just walk more" type. So find out what type of exerciser you are, and set up everything in your life to help you keep exercising regularly -- whether you need a gym, a partner, a pedometer, a home exercise machine or video, or whatever. Look for both formal ways to get more exercise (gyms, classes, equipment) and informal ones (walking from the far parking lot, taking the stairs, walking the dog, walking to a store or restaurant, moving around while you talk on the phone, etc.).

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