February 5, 2010

Book Review: French Women Don't Get Fat

French women love to sit at a cafe and do nothing but enjoy the moment.

It's official ~ I wanna be french.

Since I love reading so much, once in awhile I'm going to post a book review here. I thought I'd start with French Women Don't Get Fat by the lovely and amazing Mireille Guiliano, one of the best books I've read on the subject of weight control.  Why?  Glad you asked. ;-)

1.  Mireille (pronounced Meer-ray) is French.  And she lives in America.  New York to be exact.  So, her perspective hasn't been formed in a vacuum.  She knows the culture of both France and the USA and shows us how much fun it can be to live in both worlds.  And, who wouldn't want to adopt a view of weight control that includes bread and chocolate?

2.  The book is beautifully written.  I read a lot of books, some of which I can fly through for mere entertainment and others like this one that I just want to savor.  She inserts french colloquialisms that begin to acquaint the reader with the language, the essence, the soul of France.  At first I skipped over these because I don't know French, but sensed along the way that I was missing a great sensory experience by doing so.  Mireille writes with grace, with elegance and yet with a sensibility and frankness that is just irresistible.

3.  What Mireille proposes is sustainable . . . it requires, yes, a shift away from the American "more is better" attitude, but somehow you end up knowing in your soul that this, too, can be a gentle process.  So, if you've ridden the dieting roller coaster, you will find this book refreshing.  Refreshing like a cool glass of water on a hot day. Seriously.

4.  No empty promises are made.  Mireille straight forwardly says that "most who appear to live in healthy balance are actually working at it" as opposed to being born with it or genetically predisposed.  So, no, french women don't {and we can't continue to} eat McDonald's and deep fried foods every day and still lose weight.  But, though we must exert effort, the effort is balanced with remembering the pleasure in it all.  Eat slower, take time to really taste the food.  I can tell you THAT's the quickest way to make a person avoid the drive-thru!  Have you ever chewed your drive-thru burger 30 times? {insert expletive here}

5.  You can eat real food.  Not only real, but high quality, fresh, whole food.  No diet shakes or protein bars, just honest-to-goodness scrumptious food.  I love what Mireille says about food on television:
Food on television makes one think about eating and gets one's gastric juices flowing, triggering the release of insulin, lowering one's blood sugar, and stimulating food cravings.  It's gastronomic pornography.
And, yes, chocolate and bread are included.   Turns out that small meals of good quality food are extremely satisfying.

6.  Pleasure is a main component.  Have you ever tried to "go on a diet", embarked, and then hated every last minute of it?  I have.  Somehow we've concluded that to lose weight and be healthy means we don't get to enjoy food anymore.  Not so with Mireille's approach.  She says that "self punishment is never our path to well-being."  But, enjoying pleasures is done with moderation, and as such, the shame of indulgence is removed.

I could say a whole lot more, but honestly, I don't want to spoil it for you.  You owe it to yourself to pick up this book.  French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano.  Please leave your thoughts, feelings, anything you want to in the comments.  And, once you read the book, come back and tell me about it.

Enjoying the process,


  1. I loved this book too, although I never tried to follow her eating example - except for selecting the best fruits and vegetables and savoring my meal. But there certainly is something to be said for the French style of eating.

  2. I'm going to take this out of the library tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. The book changed my whole thought process around food and dieting. I also read her business book for women...pretty fundamental, but still good.

  4. I was so tempted by this book when I saw it in the bookstore in Ireland. Never got around to actually buying it, though.

    I may change my mind after reading this. :)

  5. You won't be sorry . . . its a whole new attitude toward food that will serve you your whole life! {And, I'm not getting paid to say this!}

  6. I loved that book. I think it is something we should all strive for eventually, but my self control with 'real food' isn't there yet.