Bon Appetit – The French Paradox

Food is a passion in France and you don’t see them following the latest diet craze. They eat a lot of butter, cheese, meat, croissants and pate de foie gras. So why are they thinner than Americans, live longer, and have a much lower incidence of heart disease? Scientists call it the French Paradox and some studies have “shown” it’s all the wine they drink. I doubt it’s just the wine.

Many believe the French paradox has a lot to do with our base attitudes of food and eating. I agree with that line of thought. The French eat real food – food that is prepared at home and time is taken to gather the ingredients; it’s part of their daily routine. Eating is also a social activity in France; they have an unhurried attitude. Small courses are served at meal time and in between each course, there is plenty of time to socialize. The average meal lasts about two hours.

In the U.S, we eat more processed foods and ready-to-eat meals; we eat fast food — both in and outside the home. By definition, fast food is eaten fast, so there’s not much time for any enjoyment. We have large portion meals, and family members will eat at different times, usually different foods than the rest. And we like to snack in between meals all day.

One of our best family vacations was visiting my aunt and uncle (my mom’s brother) in France. We stayed at their homes in St.-Malo on the Atlantic coast and in Paris and walked everywhere. They spoiled us with homemade meals, drank wine from my uncle’s personal wine cellar, and had lots of great conversations. My aunt walked to the market each morning to get the fresh ingredients to be used in our meals each day. The food experience is hard to match.

Eating food should be savored, and preparing food should be creative and not seen as a chore. Eat slowly and enjoy it more!

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