Following our week discussing heart health and love, I am taking you on a different journey and one away from all of this snow! Let’s go to France! Hubby & I are not French but we have been in love with all things French for a long time. From cooking to décor, potager gardens to architecture, we find it all quite inspiring and there are a number of things we can learn when it comes to JoyFull Eating.
The French Diet has long puzzled scientists. How can a nation that eats food high in saturated fat such as cheese have such low rates of heart disease? There are a number of factors that contribute to this, so let’s explore a few of them together.
5 Secrets to the Art of French Eating!
First off on our list is the quality of foods. The quality of food we choose to consume plays an integral part in a holistic health plan and it is one of the first things I discuss with clients. Highly processed “foods” and foods that come a great distance have less nutritional value and flavour, and consequently reduces our enjoyment as well. The scientists studying the French diet highlighted that “eating high quality food that is palatable can help a person stop from feeling deprived and overeating.” Quality whole foods are rich in nutrients and minerals and nourish our bodies. French farmlands supply farmers markets with fresh produce daily. When in season, we can do the same! Shop at your local markets and buy as fresh and local as possible. You will TASTE the difference. Hubby & I have noticed our taste buds change over time as we intentionally choose better quality when we can. In the winter we still choose to buy local greenhouse produce when available and enjoy our own food preserved from last season’s gardens.
Secondly, we eat too much in our Canadian/American cultures. One study showed that while the French may scoff croissants, rich cheese, and meats, they do so in small portions. Restaurants in Paris serves dishes containing 277g of food on average, restaurants in USA gave customers plates fill with 346g of food. That is 25% more food put in front of you! So let’s eat at home, and don’t feel the need to fill up your plate all at once. Learning to eat less and stopping when elegantly satisfied truly reveals the art of JoyFull Eating.
Eating for Pleasure
Eating for pleasure is part of French culture. While many Canadians are scarfing down their tuna sandwich at their work desk while catching up on emails and rushing through a pizza at supper in front of the t.v., the French are taking a 2 hour lunch break and enjoying their evening together as they go home to prepare fresh food. Then they eat slowly… and
In an effort to be a more productive worker, I used to give myself 30 minutes for lunch and even had a 15 minutes supper time one year as I was convinced that I could warm-up leftovers and eat in that amount of time. Oiy! Since then, I have learned the power of digestion when the body is relaxed and I’m enjoying my meal. I now have a scheduled lunch break of 60 minutes and 60-90 minutes for supper. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it does happen when I make it a priority. My advice for those who are only given shorter lunch breaks at work – TAKE THE BREAK! Retreat to a quiet area to enjoy your food, eat slow and get some fresh air too if you are able.
Plant Focused Menu
Another factor that links both the French way of eating along with many other healthy cultures is a plant focused diet. This doesn’t mean they are vegetarians or vegans, however they are based around plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, including wholegrains and beans. The fats they consume are include extra virgin olive oil and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and they eat fish and moderate amounts of lean meat. I will dive deeper into this topic of fat in next weeks blog post.
Whether sitting at a café bistro or with the company of family and friends, the French enjoy community. In an age when we are called in different directions, it is more important than ever to schedule family time and that includes family meals! Set the table nicely and create a presentation that is both pleasing to the eyes, nose and taste buds! Enjoy with family or friends and just enjoy your time together. The benefits are far reaching beyond just eating.
Jennifer Levitan, C.H.N.C. is a Northern Ontario based Holistic Nutritional Consultant specializing in a simplified approach to healthy eating. With a focus on delicious, whole, local and sustainable foods, Jennifer empowers her clients to make practical nutrition choices for optimal health and a life of JoyFull Eating!
Jennifer Levitan, ARCT, ORMT, C.H.N.C. is a Northern Ontario based Holistic Nutritional Consultant specializing in a simplified approach to healthy eating. With a focus on delicious, whole, local and sustainable foods, Jennifer empowers her clients to make practical nutrition choices for optimal health. Jennifer earned a diploma in Natural Nutrition from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in 2018 and is currently working towards her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Science.