I Did Learn One Thing from the French

ChefSo I finally finished French Women Don’t Get Fat (I know, I’m a slow reader) and there is one quality I’ve decided I’m going to work on cultivating because it seems to work for them; those skinny-itty-bitties from across the sea. (Even using the word “cultivating” is helping to make me feel more sophisticated and French. Is that wrong?) Anyway, one underlying thread in the whole book seems to be this appreciation of all things food in France. The cheeses, the wines, the pastries, and of course the chocolate; they’re crazy about chocolate. These women eat it all and the inspiring part is, they never feel guilty.

What’s that about?

I go out with my friends and half the table applauds when I order dessert (because they believe that since I’m ordering it, they can too, thus lessening their own guilt), while the other half is quietly mouthing “Tsk tsk tsk” at me. (Actually that’s only one person and she would be my boot camp fitness buddy who sleeps on a bed harder than concrete, only has sugar in the house for guests to use and thinks an indulgent snack is unsalted (of course, since there is no salt in her apartment) hard pretzels dipped in mustard. Not even the spicy kind right Aim?!) So guilt is common for us American women and we will go on all sorts of extreme fad diets to prevent us from ever having to experience it, or to scold us when we do. This never works of course. It’s an endless, circular battle.

This is where the French come into play. They enjoy the sweet indulgences of life and food because of two things. And, these two simple things can easily be adopted by us. One is that these women know how to limit their portions. A taste here, a bite there; both of which are equally appreciated. They’re not sneaking around or mindlessly eating, they’re well aware of exactly what they’re doing and they are savoring it. That’s the second part, learning to savor what you are eating.

Truly, savoring is a skill to be cultivated as I have recently realized what my thought process is when eating. It goes something like this. “Oh, yum, this tastes so goo… will there be enough for seconds I wonder?” Chew chew chew. “Does my husband have more on his plate than me?” Chew chew chew. “He takes such big freaking bites he’s gonna totally go for seconds before I can.” This thought process is playing out while I’m also attempting to carry on a conversation. “What’s that about your day? Really, a billy goat? At work? Just showed up in the office? What? Yea, I heard you… isn’t this so yummy, I really outdid myself this time with the chicken…”

I am actually thinking about the next bite as I’m chewing the current bite.

I’m completely null and void of savor.

And that’s what I want to cultivate. My ability to saaaaavor.

I’m not exactly sure how to do that but I’m thinking that focusing on what I’m chewing is a good start. Take note of the flavors and slow it all down. Put my fork down occasionally to refocus my focus. Enjoy a conversation with my husband and family members while trying not to combine the two.

Eat. Savor. Put fork down. Converse. Repeat. It may just be that simple.

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About the Author: Anne Marie Constanzo