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10 Ways to Make the French Diet Work for You

How to fit French diet strategies into an American lifestyle
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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.

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?

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