Weight Loss Secrets of the French Diet
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The Ketogenic Diet has become really popular over the past few years, and can you blame it? The idea of eating rich healthy foods, easily going 4-5 hours between meals, and not having to exercise to lose weight almost seems too good to be true. However, it’s not so new, and not so unique, and not as rare as you might think. Interestingly, by studying the French diet, we can see how the Keto diet works.
Outside the US, people in most countries around the world eat rich healthy foods, limit meals to three times a day, aren’t hungry or snack between meals, and keep exercise to a daily routine of walking, with some other activity thrown in for variety. France is a great example. The people of France have the lowest obesity rate out of the world’s top 35 developed countries, and lower cholesterol, and lower incidents of heart disease than most countries……and regularly eat large amounts of fatty foods like cream, butter and cheese. Why don’t the French get fat?
It’s simple. They eat a certain proportion of carbs, proteins and fats in a day, they are taught this from a very young age, and it’s culturally normal to eat this way.
In the US, it’s acceptable to eat low calorie or low fat foods, eat unlimited carbohydrates, snack between meals, and occasionally participate in strenuous exercise that makes no difference. If you’ve traveled outside the US, you’ll know that our eating habits in the US are weird!
The Ketogenic Diet isn’t exactly the French Diet, but they share many similarities, and this helps explain how the Keto diet works:
Both diets emphasize eating a considerable amount of fat. Eating an abundance of fat at a meal, whether through fatty meats/fish, avocados, olives, butter or cheese is filling, satisfying and is what allows you to go for 4-5 hours between meals.
Both diets are generous with their use of salt. A French chef friend of mine gave me the best cooking advice ever, to “Never underestimate the power of butter and salt!”
Both diets emphasize eating whole fresh vegetables and proteins, and avoiding added sugars, additives, chemicals and processed foods.
Both diets are careful with their carb intake. The Ketogenic diet is more restrictive with carbs than the French diet, which is more generous with it’s use of fruits, whole grain breads and pastas, but in France, portions of carbohydrate are small. No mountains of salads, no stuffed-crust pizzas with breadsticks on the side, no 7-layer cakes; instead, what is common is a small croissant at breakfast with butter, one small roll with butter or 1/2 cup of rice or potatoes at lunch, and mostly vegetables at dinner.
Both diets emphasize no snacking between meals. In France, healthy eating habits are taught at infancy, with toddlers in their daycares served 3-course meals designed by chefs a year in advance to ensure that no food item is served more than twice a month (I kid you not! See ‘Bringing Up Bebe’ by Pamela Druckerman, an amazing read!).
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Generally, in North America, we often eat so much because our food has little taste and we eat more and more hoping to feel full. In France the portions are smaller and the food totally satisfies your taste buds. Our foods are selected for how well they will ship and look, whereas French fruits and vegetables are selected and grown for taste and flavor. Taste, flavor and enjoyment of food is central to the French way of life. It is not refueling, as it is for us in the US. In France, it is the most important thing in the day.
A great start to your weight loss (or wellness!) program is to first do the Ketogenic Diet to clean up your eating habits and lose any necessary weight, and then to slowly start incorporating different carbs into your diet. If you continue to weigh yourself every morning, then if your weight is up one morning, you’ll know you ate too many carbs the day before, and you can cut back. There’s no need to remove entire food groups, like carbs, from your life – like the French, you too, can have food be a source of great joy and pleasure in life!
So maybe Keto isn’t so unique after-all. By studying similar diets from other cultures, like the French, we can see how the Keto diet works.
Click here to start losing weight like the French!