As a digestive health coach, I study what and how people eat. And as an avid traveler and armchair anthropologist (with a masters degree in International Relations) I’m fascinated by cultural approaches to eating and it’s health consequences.
Americans, for example, have a growing problem with obesity, diabetes and digestive issues despite the predominance of diet foods. The French, on the other hand, indulge in butter-laden pastries, wine and cheese, but have a fraction of these health problems. Ever wonder why?
These seven habits may hold the answer:
1. French people take time out of their day to enjoy their meals.
American fast food restaurants have spread to France, but the French much prefer “slow food”. They sit at a café for hours enjoying a coffee. Most French people rarely scarf their lunches down at their desks or eat in their cars or on the run.
In France, meals are a time to slow down and enjoy the unhurried pleasure of eating.
Digestion works best when people are relaxed. Eating slowly also means that food is chewed better and the body doesn’t need to work harder to break down larger food particles.
2. Most French people don’t diet.
The French love eating full fat foods, which keep them feeling full and satisfied longer. Because French people enjoy small amount of rich foods, they never feel “dieter’s deprivation” which often can backfire into binge eating.
3. French people don’t snack.
Because the French eat rich, satisfying foods they can go between meals without snacking. Constant eating or “grazing” keeps the body in a constant state of digesting. Digestion is energy intensive and takes time away from the body’s natural process of detoxing. The French know how to give their digestive system a rest by fasting between meals.
4. The French don’t eat GMO foods.
Europeans have outlawed GMO foods, calling it Frankenfood. Some studies have shown that GMO foods have higher levels of allergens (gluten) and can cause leaky gut and insulin resistance. While not enough is known about GMO foods, the Europeans believe they are unhealthy. Even some American nutritionists believe GMO foods can cause weight gain.
5. French people are used to walking (and do it after dinner).
Walking after meals, especially dinner, helps increase metabolism, which boosts and supports the digestive process. Not only does it burn calories, but it boosts circulation and can ease symptoms of constipation.
6. French people eat smaller meals.
French restaurants are famous for their small portions. Serving up small portions of rich foods helps French people stay satisfied and prevents overeating. When food is delicious and served in large portions, it’s too easy to overindulge. American restaurants are notorious for “supersized” portions made from lower quality ingredients to keep costs down.
7. French people eat real food.
Because the French don’t eat as much fat-free or artificially sweetened foods, they consume less chemicals than Americans. The chemicals in “lite” foods can actually slow down metabolism by clogging the liver and thus causing weight gain.
French food is typically fresher with fewer preservatives. Eating full fat butter is healthier than eating processed margarine full of trans fats.
The good news is that you don’t have to be French to adapt the eating secrets above.
Which healthy French habit are you going to try on for size? Let us know in the comments below.
For more free digestive health tips visit Do It Yourself Health at www.diyhealthblog.com