In a society where weight loss is part of daily life for those who suffer from being overweight, diets should be thrown out of the window according to the French. The French seem to have made it a lifestyle to eat whatever they crave without losing their often slim posture, but when Americans try to copy this lifestyle, slim postures are nowhere to be seen. Obesity rates continue to climb and in 2013, 62 percent of Americans suffered from being overweight or obesity, leaving only 38 percent at a healthy weight. Is it time for the U.S. to adopt the French diet?
To eat like the French, one must not be tempted by the large quantities that the U.S. offers consumers. Diet expert Tonya Leigh says, “The French do not eat large portions, but they remain generous and will never refuse dessert, simply because they want to experience pleasure while they eat.” According to Leigh, the French do not diet and prefer to call it an eating regime, which they can use throughout their entire life. Weight loss, according to the French, cannot be achieved by diets, but simply by creating a healthy and balanced eating regime. “It is very easy. They eat real, wholesome foods and stop eating when they feel satisfied, while in the U.S. it has become common to eat prepared meals and to keep eating until you feel stuffed,” she adds.
Rebeca Plantier, CEO and co-founder of Fit to Inspire, lived in France and calls the French eating regime a code of conduct that everyone lives by. She agrees with Leigh and says that real and wholesome foods are an important aspect for the French, but there are numerous other rules to be found in the code of conduct. “The French eat three meals per day, perhaps with a little snack in the afternoon, but never more than that. It is OK to feel a bit hungry in between meals. They also do not eat while walking and it is important for the French to be able to sit down and taste their food.” Plantier also says that adults and children live by the same code of conduct, which leaves children to eat the same real and wholesome foods as their parents.
Other experts; however, think the French will not be able to keep up with the French diet for long, simply because of a shift in lifestyle. Companies in France used to give their employees a generous amount of time for lunch, enabling people to have a three-course meal while sipping a glass of red wine, but life in France is slowly changing.
Businessman Charles Mendy says even the French are reaching out to fast food more often. “My company is American and my working days have changed. I used to be able to take a one hour lunch break, but now I often find myself eating a quick lunch at my desk because the workload has become much bigger,” he says. According to Mendy, many French are slowly seeing a shift in the way companies work and some say it may affect the French eating regime dramatically.
Even though the French are experiencing a shift in lifestyle, food is also an important topic for government agencies. Fast food giant McDonald’s was recently rejected from opening a new restaurant in Paris, for the simple reason that it would kill the uniqueness of the neighborhood. Expanding in Paris has proven to be difficult for McDonald’s. In the past 11 years it has opened only four new franchises and the French baguette remains the country’s most popular fast food. While they may not care for a weight loss program, according to the French, there is no reason to splurge on foods other than those that are real and wholesome.
By Diana Herst