Thursday, March 14, 2013

Do French Women Get Fat? Why not?

Today is a new day! This is the only day that counts!

I have mentioned this before, but I have made two trips to France in the last year.  My first trip was last year on Spring Break.  We went all around France, with a few days in Paris.   On my second trip, in November, I also went to England, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein, and Germany.  These trips were with my son, his French Club went in the spring, and his Senior class went in November.  I told him he wasn't going to those places before me, so I was going along.  I have been to Europe before, just to England and it was before he was born.  

 All of the countries were beautiful, especially Switzerland, but I was most impressed with the diets and health of the French people.  It is easy to see why the French are so thin and healthy. 

In the spring, we spent our first morning in Paris.  Ooh-la-la, April in Paris, and it was exactly what I expected.  We went to an open air market in Paris.  The Parisians have open air markets throughout the city.  The markets are unbelievable!  Rows and rows of vendors selling fresh produce and meats and so many other thing, and they are cheaper and fresh.  We went to the Bastille market. We walked through all the vendors just to see what they offered before making choices.  Our group was supposed to select foods for our lunch and meet for a picnic.  The Parisians were out buying their meals for the day.  According to our guide, they come out every day and buy for that day.  The foods that come to market are grown by local farmers and they are so good.  I have never seen or tasted strawberries like those we bought ever before.  They were so large, way beyond anything I have ever eaten in the United States, and they had a wonderful, natural sweetness.  I believe the fresh market is one of the reasons for them to be so thin.  They aren't eating processed foods, they are eating fresh, great tasting, local produce.

As we toured Paris we saw people walking or biking all over the place.  It is almost a necessity to get around this way due to the small streets and the traffic.  I was told that they just do more walking and bike riding all over France.  Our guide told us that the French don't hurry like the Americans do.  They have much more time for relaxation.  He said, "You guys have your money, we have our relaxation, which we feel is more valuable."  He was a small, thin man. He walked our group all over Paris and the French countryside.  I think I walked more that week than I ever have.  If something was several blocks away, instead of getting on the subway, we walked.  He thought we needed to see everything along the way.

As we went through the French countryside in buses, we saw bunches of garden plots.  When someone asked the guide about them he said they were called community gardens.  The little towns had garden plots at the outskirts that were assigned to members of the community.  They had their own little gardens on property that belonged to the town.  They are allotted a plot and it is leased to them for several years to grow whatever they want.  They grow most of their own vegetables.  At the end of their lease, they just decide if they want it again, there is no cost.  I was told the people spend time visiting as they tend their gardens.   How healthy does this sound.  Fresh grown food, exercise and friendship.  

The French food was so absolutely wonderful.  I noticed the desserts seemed less sweet, but they had so much more flavor.  I certainly ate my way through France.  I stopped at numerous street vendors along with my meals.  I had to try everything!  When I came home my weight was down.  I had walked and walked so that makes complete sense.  I was also told that the French don't really eat desserts at home, they don't have cookies and snacks around.  They use those for special occasions, or when they have guests.  They go to the shop and purchase them most of the time.  Of course, the shops all have fresh baked, not packaged.

I didn't spend go to a supermarket, but we did go to a grocery store one evening.  We were told to purchase something to get us through the next morning because we were going to have a late lunch.  They had packaged cookies and crackers and those types of foods there.  I purchased some cherry tomatoes and a few other things.  Around mid-day the kids starting eating their snacks and I pulled out my tomatoes.  I had cleaned them the night before.  I ate one and gave one to my son.  He said, "Those are the best tomatoes I have ever tasted."  It wasn't long before a few kids asked if they could taste one.  I had to share, I really wanted to keep them for myself.  The kids were all exclaiming over the taste.  I had bought a large container I had hoped to have for a few days.   They were all gone in no time.  They had such a sweet flavor. 

As you can tell my trip to France was wonderful.  I have an amazement for their lifestyle.  I just feel like if I lived there, I would never be concerned with weight.  I though when I go home I need to incorporate some of their lifestyle into mine.  I did come home and plant my own tomato plants last year, and I enjoyed them all summer.  Life seems to get in the way here, and we spend too much time hurrying to get so many things done.  

This summer, I am going to go to the local food markets, they are usually only on Saturdays around here, and they do not have the selections that you can get in France.  They still offer fresher foods than I can buy in the supermarket.  I am going to be walking and exercising more.  I will probably only grow tomatoes again.  I spend so much time traveling out of town for travel baseball.  I am out of town most weekends, so that cuts down on the number of times I can get to the markets, and when I am gone several days at a time I have to coerce my husband into watering my plants.  He thinks every few days is enough.

After this summer, my son will leave for college.  I will be able to slow down my lifestyle.  I want to value relaxation over money.  Of course, with my son in college, I will have no money!  

I have developed a love for the French culture.  I want to learn to emulate it, I want to live a healthy lifestyle.


  1. Betty, that is so inspirational, and aspiring! One more reason to love France/Paris!

    I totally agree with them. Fresh produce, and non-processed foods is the key to good health. We Americans get so caught up in quick fixes, foods included, that we eat more 'franken-foods' than real foods. And we pay for it, with poor health, in the long run.

  2. Walking and wine. Now I'll read your post!

  3. That sounds like absolute heaven! Maybe it is time to plant a small garden again. It is so easy to pick up the "unhealthy" snacks, I try my best though. It's not so easy with a husband who has the motto "if it's good for you, it tastes bad."I hope your day is a good one!

  4. Sounds like you had a lovely time and learned a lot! We have gone to Montreal the past two years and love the markets. They have the best strawberries that I have ever eaten in my life! I think you are right about slowing down.

  5. Hi
    I'm returning the visit. Your blog is awesome. I'd love to see Paris. I haven't traveled since before Jacob was born, almost 2+ years. As for my gut, well I'm growing kinda fond of it. I'll worry about it next year LOL.
    I'm a new follower and had fun reading through your blog.

  6. Hi Betty, returning the comment love! I love this post! I lived in Italy for 3 years, and yes, it is every bit as fabulous as what you just described. Although I will confess I am super jealous you got to go to France twice! I so want to go to France.... *sigh* one day. I love the open air markets, the food, the lifestyle in Europe.

    Can't wait to read more of your blog and follow your journey. You can do this!

  7. love your blog, you sound really inspiring and honest :)

    thanks for checking my blog out. i've followed you! id love it if you could follow me back? xx

  8. I'd die to hit the food vendors in France!

  9. Hi! I'm visiting from Friendship Friday :-) I hope you'll also join me for my Friday Flash Blog on The Jenny Evolution ( Happy weekend!

  10. How exciting. Maybe by the time my youngest is grown I can make a trip like that! I am still paying for her older sisters college I can relate!


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Thanks!!! Betty