French Diet: How to Eat Like the French

While I haven’t always had the healthiest diet, since moving to France I’ve started to pay much more attention to what I eat. I also started observing what my French girlfriends were eating, too.

Here are some things I’ve learned about the standard French girl diet, which is an integral part of overall French wellness.

French Diet Tips

Don’t Eat Processed Foods

The first thing to know about the French girl diet is the fact that French women really don’t eat processed foods. They skip the potato chips and instead opt for fruits and vegetables.

Choose Whole Foods

A balanced French diet of whole foods is much preferred. Fresh fish, quality meats, and lots of vegetables are paramount to the ideal French regimen.

Local Food Markets

Shopping at the local farmer’s market is a way of life for many French women. My French friends say that they can spend all day shopping for the week’s groceries!

Some favorite Parisian markets of mine include: 

  • Marché des Enfants Rouges
  • Marché Monge
  • Marché d’Aligre

High Quality

The French go for smaller portions of high-quality foods over large amounts of low-quality foods. There is a cultural emphasis on purchasing bio (organic) foods that are available in every grocery store.

Cook at Home

French girls often cook at home. They may dine at a restaurant with friends, but for the most part, the kitchen is often used as part of the French girl diet.  

Set the Table

No matter how small or quick the meal, French women take the time to set the table for eating. It helps promote taking the time to properly digest your meal and enjoy it without too many distractions like a laptop or TV. 

No ‘Cheat’ Days

There are no “cheat days” in the French diet. It’s really a way of life to eat well. Cheat days imply that you are depriving yourself or forcing something unbearable. Make eating fun, enjoyable, and an exciting part of your life! 

Instead of having cheat days, the French might have “cheat meals” with friends where they eat something heavy at a restaurant that they normally wouldn’t. A sugary dessert from a local patisserie is also permissible. The key is to think of this all as very natural, not forced.

If you know you’re going out at night, then adjust your diet during the day. If a friend bakes you some sweets, accept them graciously.

Life isn’t meant to be lived in a state of suffering!

Don’t Snack

French girls don’t really snack, I have noticed. When I meet up with friends in the afternoon after lunch, we typically go for a coffee or beverage instead of food. 

While France is famous for its goûter, the after-school snack before dinner enjoyed by French children, this practice tends to stop once the French reach adulthood.

Eat Small Portions

Upon moving to France, I was so shocked at how small the portions of food were at French restaurants! This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why the French remain so slim. Their meal portions are noticeably smaller than American-sized ones.

Serving ourselves less is something we can all practice no matter where we are. Slowly reducing the amount of food on our plate is a great way to lose weight and feel much better. 

While I’ve never intentionally tried to serve myself less food, I have noticed that when I eat in France I don’t feel as bloated and overstuffed as I do in the States. This is most likely due to the fact that I’m eating less food overall – albeit naturally!

Eat Slowly

There are lots of differences between the French diet vs. American diet. One of the most striking is that the OECD determined in 2018 that The French spend twice as long as Americans consuming food each day!

Stay Active

Exercise and diet are inextricably intertwined and the French make sure to stay active to increase the effectiveness of their diet. Of course, this doesn’t mean sweating it out at the gym. It does mean going for long walks instead of taking a taxi, opting to walk up the stairs instead of using the escalator, and taking a pilates class when a friend invites you! 

French Diet & Cook Books

I hope you loved these French diet tips. Keep reading more about the French alimentation routine with these best-selling French diet and cookbooks:

Bon appetit! I hope you found these French diet tips enlightening and insightful! What have you noticed about the French girl diet?

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