Foodie Friday: The French Paradox (Part Two)
And the answer to yesterday’s tease is….
I will eat structured meals with more of an emphasis on flavor rather than lower calories.
“What does that mean?” you may ask. Well, first of all, in the book, Losing It in France by Sally Asher, there are detailed menus for a full week showing the structure of a typical French “diet.” She demonstrates that even though the French eat full fat butter, cheese, cream etc., etc., their diets are balanced and portions are small but satisfying. Following her observation, I’m coordinating my menus to match, in a sense, her outline of a daily eating plan. Now, mind you, I’m still counting calories because I am in the phase of losing weight and I don’t want to just free-style, yet. Now let me tell you a story about something I experienced recently that correlates to all of this French eating style.
A few months ago, right before I began this blog I went off of dieting for the first time in 20 years. My usual plan of attack for a diet was to count calories and that was pretty much it. No real rules or strict food concepts. I did eat mostly balanced meals, but as I’ve stated before, it wasn’t the days I was following the plan that kept me fat, it was the days off – which were far, far, far too many in a week. Back to me going off the “diet,” I wanted to clear out some food in refrigerator and freezer because it was overflowing with too much stuff. So, I found recipes that used the ingredients I had on hand and measured out portions that seemed reasonable based on the recipe’s recommendations. Lo and behold! Would you believe it? I stepped on the scale right before Thanksgiving and saw to my amazement that I had dropped 7 pounds since starting this non-diet! My strategy was just to eat normal looking portions, cook meals that weren’t too fattening, exercise, and stop eating when I felt full (I think that this was key). This is essentially the way Sally describes how the French eat. They eat what they like, in reasonable non-typical American sized portions, and quit when they are satisfied.
Now, I know that some will think that this is funny because they believe that their hunger is NEVER satisfied. That’s your leptin hormone not responding. (This is a topic for another day, but it probably has mostly to do with what you are eating.) I believe that when one really sits down to eat a decent meal, focuses on what they are eating WITH NO DISTRACTIONS, they will become more in tune with their body’s needs. Stuffing food down one’s face on the run will never give you satisfaction because you aren’t tasting the food, not to mention chewing it sufficiently for proper digestion. Sure, it may fill you up for a while, but the experience is not the same as sitting quietly at a table and eating a balanced meal with your full attention. I don’t know why this works, but I can tell you friends, IT DOES.
For me, eating meals that focus on lower calories usually lack flavor. This isn’t always true ( Cook This, Not That!), but for the most part, it can be. When I cook meals that seem reasonably balanced with all types of ingredients, the flavor and taste satisfaction do a lot to fill me up. Granted, I’m still trying to not eat a lot of flour or sugar, but I’m also one who doesn’t really believe in eliminating foods, including treats. It’s about balance and paying attention to your body’s fulfillment. I went through all of my cookbooks and grabbed the one’s that were penned by French chef’s or cooks. I’m planning and cooking meals based off of these recipes. The food is great, full of vegetables, and keeps me full until the next meal. I really can’t go back to eating low calorie things like Laughing Cow cheese or lite breads. Why? Your satisfaction will be better fulfilled eating the real thing. Cravings don’t pop up as often because you’re eating real food all the time; then you don’t spend all of your time dreaming about your “next real meal!”
One more thing, I mentioned in the last post that now I drink wine, eat a cheese course and have dessert. However, I don’t do this every day or even all at the same time. It depends on if I can afford the calories that day. Usually I can and I choose which one’s I want to enjoy. Sometimes, crazy enough, I don’t want it because I don’t crave it. It’s like pure magic: once you allow yourself to eat what you want, everything isn’t taboo and you aren’t climbing the walls to eat more, more, more.
I could go on and on. Really this is just a scratch on the surface. But I think it’s important, especially for Americans who have gotten spoiled and lazy in their ways of eating. It’s worth thinking about…