When you're being "good," do you settle for cardboard cookies, head
for the gym five times a week, and think food is a four-letter word? Eat your
heart out, because across the Atlantic French women enjoy rich pastries, loathe
exercise, and think food is one of life's greatest pleasures. And they don't
The good news is that their secret is out, thanks to the best-selling book,
French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, by
Mireille Guiliano. There's no counting carbs or calories or memorizing the
glycemic index. Losing weight boils down to a few simple principles very
similar to those in another popular book, The Martini Diet: The
Self-Indulgent Way to a Thinner, More Fabulous You!, by California native
From its first year of publication, GH has urged readers to live healthfully
— to take "a walk before breakfast" (1885), "eat more fish" (1932), and get "at
least eight hours of sleep" (1933). The tips here, whether from our early days
or fresh from the latest journals, have one thing in common: They are based on
the best expertise of their time.
"These books aren't intended to be dietsper se," says
Cindy Moore, MS, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. She
adds that in some ways they are consistent with the USDA 2005 Dietary
Guidelines. "They're about making small changes for life. They're not a
quick fix but more about changing your outlook on life, your perspective on
food, and being active in ways that you enjoy. If you'll take the time to
appreciate food with all of your senses, you won't need to have a lot of
And although the authors don't advocate counting calories, Moore says,
"The bottom-line message of these books is to consume fewer calories and
'Diet' Is a Four-Letter Word
Guiliano, who is CEO of Clicquot, Inc., says that one reason French women
don't get fat is that their sensible approach to eating comes naturally. It's
part of their culture.
Adopting their way of thinking and eating will take about three months
before becoming second nature. Start by keeping a food diary for three weeks.
Record why you want to lose weight, why you've gained weight, and a food
inventory so you can identify problem foods that you could cut back on or
eliminate. Culprits in the American diet typically include potato chips,
bagels, pasta, pizza, fried foods, juices, beer, hard liquor, candy bars, ice
cream, soda, and "junky" chocolate.
At this point her approach begins to sound like a diet. For two days, you
will eat nothing but leek soup. Hang in. It gets better.