Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

French Women Don’t Get Fat

Posted by nliakos on December 2, 2009

by Mireille Guiliano. Abridged on Audio Adventures, read by the author. Random House 2005.

When I lived in France from 1970 until 1973, I observed that the statement “French women don’t get fat” is indeed true, for the most part. I can’t remember meeting or even seeing any fat men, women, or children while I lived in France. In fact, I picked up a nice French habit (or maybe I shed an American habit) while I was there that kept me relatively slender for years after I returned: never eating between meals. I don’t remember deciding not to snack; the opportunity just never came up. I also observed that French people tended to have rather small portions of many foods (rather than large portions of a few foods), and they never had seconds (unlike the Swiss, who, if you ordered a fish in a restaurant, would insist on bringing you two fish). Moreover, those fancy pastries were not a daily thing with them but were only brought out for special occasions, and even then–only one per person!

Mireille Guiliano, married to an American and living now in New York, confirmed my observations and added many of her own. None of what she advises is new, but taken all together it constitutes a very rational and reasonable approach to food (eat wholesome food, organic if possible, and take pleasure, not guilt, in it; and if you overindulge at one meal, then compensate by cutting back on another) and exercise (don’t worry about joining a gym or getting sweaty, but build additional activity into your daily life). One can easily see that by following her advice, one would be able to maintain one’s weight at a comfortable level.

Guiliano spends rather a lot of time singing the praises of wine (especially champagne; she is the CEO of Clicquot Inc. in New York), which I don’t like and never drink if I can avoid it, and (high-quality, dark) chocolate, which I am very fond of. If you need to justify your consumption of either, this is the book for you.

The audio narration is well done and I enjoyed listening to Guiliano’s accent, but am not sure if someone unfamiliar with French would be able to understand everything she says, as she pronounces some English words the French way and sprinkles the text with plenty of French phrases, not all of which she translates (most would be obvious from the spelling if you were to read the book, but if you were only listening to it and did not know any French, you might not understand).

A nice book, lots of good advice. It makes me want to have a copy so I can refer to it from time to time. In the meantime I am trying not to take shortcuts to save steps.


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