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All Secrets submitted by BLONDEAMBITION
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McDonald's ("McDo's", as it is affectionately called in France), sells more food in France than any other country in the world besides the U.S. Unfortunately, it has contributed to the rising obesity levels in France, but still, most French who indulge in a hamburger now and then stay pretty skinny. Le secret? They eat very reasonably most of the time, and indulge in junk food very occasionally as a treat. Reward yourself for good work with one little "treat" once a month, with no regrets.
While in France, I found that, despite eating baguette with nearly every meal, my carb intake dropped dramatically (to around the 100 range) from when I was in the US. Why? Well, the baguette is almost the sole source of carbs in the French diet. They eat lots of low-carb soups, salads, stews and veggie-based dishes - the carbs are not on the plate. In fact, carb-loaded food, like sandwiches and wraps, are considered "junk" food in France. They eat a lot of fat to balance out the low carbs.
Breakfast in France, well, it doesn't really exist. In fact, there is not even a word for it in French, it is just called "le petit déjeuner" (literally, "a little lunch"). It is not exactly a meal, it's more of a little snack to tie you over to lunch. It usually consists of a little yogurt and fruit, a little piece of baguette with cheese, or, occasionally, a croissant with coffee. Eating something small for breakfast lets you save the calories for something fabulous for lunch and dinner.
The French can't get enough of the bubbly stuff, and no, I'm not talking about champagne. Almost every French household keeps Perrier in the fridge. And why not? It's 0 calorie, is a natural source of minerals, and the bubbles keep you feeling full so you're less likely to overeat. On a hot day in the South of France, they mix Perrier with mint syrup for a sweet treat (kind of like the lower-calorie, non-alcoholic French mojito) :)
Gyms (in French: "musculations") are hard to find in France. Why? Because nobody uses them, except for bodybuilders and tourists (hence the word 'musculations', gyms are used for those who want to build muscle). So how do the French stay so skinny? First, they walk a lot. But secondly, they usually play a sport or have a hobby, like mountain biking, swimming, or hiking. Let's face it, gyms are boring! You are more less likely to stick with a sport or hobby that you enjoy.
In France, taking the stairs is an everyday part of life. (Many public places, even the Paris Metro, do not have escalators or elevators in some parts!) In the US where we have stringent ADA regulations, elevators and escalators are everywhere and so is the temptation to take them. Ignore it! Stairs are great, free exercise. If it's too many flights for you to handle, aim to do at least half and take the elevator the rest of the way.
One of the things that drove me crazy in France was that NO ONE seemed to have a lot of food in their refrigerator. Why? Their food does not have preservatives, so they buy a small amount of food more often so nothing goes to waste. It also prevents overeating and late-night snacking - you can't eat it if it's not there! Having a full refrigerator makes you more tempted to overeat. Also avoid shopping in bulk in places like Costco, where you will be tempted to buy more than you need.
The dangers of hormone-treated meat products are becoming apparent in our society. I got asked one time by a French man why Americans are so much broader and developed than they are and why we hit puberty at a younger age. It is true. Hormones are the reason. Unlike the US, the French do not have hormones in their food - the EU will not allow it. Only eat meat products that do not contain hormones (check the label). Also, wash your produce thoroughly - pesticides contain estrogen compounds.
The French are known for being brutally honest. They are also brutally honest about their weight. If their friend gains so much as one kilo, their friends and family will say something. That is taboo in our culture, but the French have a social system that keeps their weight in check. Sometimes it's hard for us to be objective about our weight, so take a picture of yourself. Do you like what you see? If not, keep striving until you reach your goal, and love yourself regardless!
The French eat several servings of FULL-FAT, WHOLE MILK yogurt and cheese in small quantities. It makes you feel fuller. Low fat, "diet" food does NOT exist in France. Even though the French eat a high-fat (yet low-carb and low-calorie) diet, they are incredibly slim. They get all of their fats from healthy sources, like cheeses, milk, avocados, olives, etc. Your body NEEDS fats to create hormones, I think a low-fat diet makes it harder to lose weight. Eat more fat, but less calories overall.