How does a culture that adores bread, butter, and chocolate have such slender people? Well, they don't eat like Americans! The United States has developed some terrible eating habits that have put our health and our enjoyment of food in jeopardy! Here's all you need to know about eating comme le Français… Like the French!
The most confusing and difficult thing to adapt to is the change in meal size. I'm not just talking about smaller portions but the order of the meals. The quote goes, "Eat like a queen in the morning, a princess for lunch and a poor girl at night." Breakfast can be something like bread, coffee, a pastry, and fruit or all of the above. Lunch is a much bigger deal than it is in America, and for great reason! You have so much more time to digest your food and increase your energy throughout the day if you eat a nice lunch. Dinner is later in the day where you don't need much to keep you going, and if you don't move around then you fueled up just to lay down and sleep. Doesn't make much sense!
Eating is a social experience. Mealtime means so much more to the French as a community. They aren't running around distracted and alone. When my friend asked for a takeaway coffee the whole establishment looked at her like she was a three headed elephant. You will never see someone in France walking down the street while chewing. You don't take food on the go, you sit and eat... preferably with friends!
from_my_travels_..Photo by Jenny Hamren
The French do not snack. While I personally think snacking is one of the greatest joys in life, it isn't really good for you. Yes they get hungry in-between sometimes and they'll have a piece of fruit or something, but just to hold them over until their next meal. It isn't about consuming food just to eat something. It's about good ingredients and the whole experience!
There's so much less processed foods. When I was grocery shopping in my small French city, I was astonished at its frozen section. There were none of the processed tv style dinners I was so familiar with. There were frozen ingredients, but only a small processed section that held 5-10 items. The culture values quality over quantity. If you're going to eat something make sure it is worthy of being eaten.
My last helpful tip you need to know is that France stops on Sundays. When I was moving in, I arrived from America late Saturday night. There was zero stores open, limited transportation, and my very empty stomach for a very long time. This is due to both government regulations and general French culture. You have to prepare for this and don't expect to eat out or grocery shop that day, not as much in major cities but even then there will be closures.
I was slightly obsessed with grocery shopping in France...Photo by Jenny Hamren
Americans have disconnected from food. So many people eat to live but the secret to the French diet, the French culture, and the French body is that food is worth taking the time to enjoy. Eat food that is flavorful, not fried. Eat food that is fresh, not processed. Eat with your friends or engulfed in your meal, not your phone.