Thursday, July 05, 2012

Book Review: French Women Don't Get Fat

In my quest to find out what works best for my body, I decided that I needed to embrace the "knowledge is power" philosophy and start reading some books on different weight loss strategies. First up, French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano.

                                                                Source: via KandidlyKim on Pinterest

This book details the experience that Mireille Guiliano, a French woman, had as an exchange student in the United States that inevitably led to her gaining weight for the first time in her life. Upon returning to France, with the help of the families' doctor, she got back in touch with the "French way" of eating in order to lose weight. The concept that this book wants to drive home is moderation. Everything can be done with moderation...and of course the class and poise of a French woman.

What surprised me was that the book did not really cover anything about exercise because apparently French women don't like to sweat it out in the gym. Looking back on my 10 day trip to France in high school, we walked....everywhere. And so did all of the natives. Although I was enjoying baguettes, nutella filled crepes, and croissants daily, I did not gain an ounce while I was away. The author spoke about little tips and tricks like taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator when you are going up less than 3 flights of stairs. She relived her experiences in apartments while going to school about how she was able to coast up and down endless flights of stairs while others remained huffing and puffing after 1 measly flight. However, her coasting led to her coasting her behind to the store to get jeans in a smaller size, so it is hard to complain.

The majority of this book focuses on how to eat like a French woman. Like most diets, the author suggests a detox with a special leek soup that helps your body get rid of water weight. I was happy to hear that the food portion was not only realistic, but it was easy to follow. Most diets need you to go out into the forest and find some native root to grind up and mix into your food, but this book really only used ingredients that most people should be able to find in their local grocery store. However, I will say that this book is not a get-skinny-quick book by any means. The method used is much more the slow and steady weight loss approach.  As with any diet, if you are very overweight, you will lose more in the beginning from making simple changes to your lifestyle, but then again, you have more pounds to lose in general then.

The only major drawback in the book is the author's style of writing. Not only does she use French words in nearly every paragraph of the book without translations, but as a reader, I felt a bit like she was preaching that French women are amazing and us Americans are just fast food loving, unhealthy, non stair taking buffoons. I kept thinking that this trend would go away after the first few chapters, but it did not. And my four years of high school French did not help me get through the French verbiage any faster either.

All in all, I thought it was a decent read for anyone who is just beginning their weight loss journey and needs a quick and easy read to get them started. It isn't an overly difficult book to get immersed in, and you can just skip over the French words and you will be a-okay. You may also want to read it if you are just looking to read about simple ways to incorporate your goals of being healthy into your life (that's me!)

If you are looking for the kindle edition of French Women Don't Get Fat, follow the previous link.

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  1. Sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for the summary. :)

  2. I came across this blog and thought you might like it. Maybe you can get some pointers and inspiration from her. :)

  3. I read the book a while back and also thought there was some value in it. But then I read an article that said that French women tend to be smokers. It's been my experience that smokers tend to eat less because they smoke instead of eat. So if they really are smokers, seems like that's an advantage for keeping the weight off (not healthy, but definitely an advantage). But I've never been to France so I don't know if that information is correct or not.

    I enjoyed your review. Visiting from SITS.

    1. Thanks for visiting! I visited France briefly and didn't notice it more than normal... but who really knows? I really think it is about how they are taught more balance when it comes to eating.

  4. I read this book several years ago - I recall something about it annoying me, but don't remember specifically what it was. It may have been the author's french women are superior attitude. Good point from Homemakers Daily about the smoking. I spent a summer in France as a foreign exchange student and remember everyone smoking. My French sister constantly offered me cigarettes which I always politely declined. I also remember walking or biking everywhere and the meals being prepared with fresh ingredients purchased daily from the outdoor market.

    1. I definitely remember all of the fresh ingredients and the walking! That was one of the best parts of being in France! If only we could bring back some of those benefits to daily living in the US.

  5. I read this book years ago...I really enjoyed reading the book. I think one of the most important lessons from the book was that french women eat more in balance and foods made from "real" and simple ingredients - they tend to be more naturally active in their day to day activities (lots of walking/taking of stairs/etc) - and tend to reverse small gains right away...

    1. That's exactly what I felt when reading the book. Real, simple, and much less processed food.

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