08 May 2013

Losing Weight Frenchie Style


People have all these crazy ideas about how French women lose weight. I've read some really stupid articles/books that make French women look like tight wads with an iron will power OR like they can magically indulge in all the crap they want as long as they eat in itty-bitty portions and eat full-fat cream products. What?????

Let me tell you about my first real meal with a French family. My future-in-laws made this delicious salad with tons of meat, apples, walnuts, etc. I took two heaping plates full. I had eaten a bit too much, but I was happy.



That's when they brought out the second course... Salmon with little round slices of bread with various spreads. I could feel my pants getting tighter. My stomach was beyond full. I thought there was no way I could take another bite.

Which is why I thought I might cry a little when I saw them bring out the third course. Chicken and Potatoes. This, of course, was the main part of the meal, so they really heaped it on my plate.

At this point I was just hoping this meal would end, so that I wouldn't have to keep stuffing myself.

Then came dessert, four different types of dessert, and Monsieur Right's mother insisted that I taste them all! Normally, I'm a HUGE fan of dessert. But that evening I was feeling like Violet, from Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.

Overeating
You all might need to roll me out the door after dinner...

I survived. But I still have no idea how French women eat like that and lose weight. No idea. I they don't have more special weight loss tricks than we do. They aren't experts in counting calories. They just have more social pressure. When everyone else is watching your weight (and commenting on it), you tend to as well.

Despite eating like this for over a year, I still managed to lose weight. Here's how:

I quickly learned to fear food overload. 

In college, I would always eat a bit extra at breakfast or lunch, because my schedule was so crazy that I wasn't sure what time I would be eating my next meal. Better safe than hungry, right? Wrong. Turns out that my waist-line prefers when I eat a little bit less and wait a little bit longer.

I learned to take half as much as I wanted. 

Even when I was really hungry I learned to underestimate how much food I really wanted, because I was never sure how much food was coming later. It's better to go back for seconds if you're really hungry, rather than forcing yourself to finish what's on your plate. Plus - people are generally really flattered when you ask for seconds!

I also stopped eating ice cream like it was going out of style. There will always, always be more ice cream later. You only need half of what you want. I promise.

I stopped snacking.

If I eat all of this now, will I have room for all that food later? Every weekend I would completely forego snacks (and breakfast) in fear in anticipation of eating at my future mother-in-law's house. If I ate anything before, there was no way I could make it through the whole meal.


You may have noticed that none of these things are magic or glamorous like most "Lose Weight In France" books would have you believe. However, they were effective for me. 

Towards the end of my stay I noticed that my clothes kept getting bigger. This annoyed me, and I kept complaining to my roommate about how the washing machine had stretched out all my pants! It wasn't until Monsieur Right made a comment that I realized that I may have lost a little weight as well.

I was never significantly overweight, but I did have a bit more pudge when I was younger. So when I came back to the states have my year long study abroad I was surprised to learn that I was 20lbs and 2 full pants sizes smaller!

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