I pondered about the name of this post for awhile. I didn’t want to use words like “healthy” or “good for you” or especially not “diet,” because all of those words have been moved into the make-people-uncomfortable pile, and there is probably no better way to get people to NOT read your book review blog post. And everyone should read this one, because even though all those yucky words could possibly apply to this book, every single person on the planet should read it. Yes, I’m talking to you!
I’ve actually talked about this book a lot on here, enough that I decided it was about time for an official review. Of course I’m talking about the book French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano.
Look right there on the front cover, you see what that says? “The secret of eating for pleasure.” I don’t know about you, but I like to eat for pleasure! This entire book is just fun to read. Mirellie is a wonderful storyteller, and as she tells her stories she also introduces a new way to look at food. I know I’ve mentioned this on here before, but I love her attitude towards food! She points out that every person has two sides to them, we have the side that wants to be thin and beautiful and healthy, and we also have the side that wants to eat and be satisfied. These two sides seem at odds with each other, but what if you can have both? Have your cake, and eat it too? And still be skinny?
The basic secret is this. If you are eating really good food, you need less to be satisfied. For example, imagine you have one of those gigantic bags of M&Ms. Those M&Ms are actually not even half chocolate, they are mostly sugar with a dose of artificial colors and sweeteners thrown in. If you are anything like me, I need to eat that whole bag to feel satisfied, although I would probably start feeling a little sick before that happened. Give me one square of a really dark, high quality chocolate, on the other hand, and it’s a different process entirely. I start by smelling the chocolate while reading a little on the package about where the cocoa beans came from (do you think the M&Ms people could tell you where their beans are from?). I hear the snap as I break off the square, and I look at the beautiful, dark brown color. Finally I put it in my mouth and let it slowly melt away. That one square, eaten using all my senses, is way more satisfying than any amount of M&Ms could be. And when you look at that from a diet/health perspective, I just ate a whole lot fewer calories, and ended up with more nutrients and way less added artificial junk going into my body.
Food should be eaten and enjoyed! Food is a gigantic part of life, there will always be family dinners, birthday parties and holidays. One way I’ve realized that I show love is by cooking, and I love cooking meals for my family! Going on a “diet” and eating nothing but grapefruit is not only crappy, but not sustainable, and most people gain back what they lost and more in the long run.
But we need to define “good food.” Mirellie does this really well in her book, and her disdain for artificial, processed food really comes across. First, I’m going to give some examples of food that does not fit in the good food category. Pretty simply, if it comes in a package, has ingredients in the list that you are not quite sure how to pronounce or is manufactured in mass in a factory, it probably doesn’t count as good food. Eating should be an experience, and it is the most satisfying when that experience starts by choosing your own fresh ingredients and then going home and preparing the meal yourself. Just by making the simple change of cooking at home, (no, microwaving that packaged frozen meal doesn’t count as cooking at home!) you will suddenly be eating healthier than most Americans. The good news is that cooking at home is way cheaper, too!
The other thing I love about this book is how Mirellie teaches you to think about what you are eating. I have a really hard time with this one, I find that breakfast is often eaten while running around getting ready for the day. A lot of times eating is just something else on that big list of things to do, and therefore shoveled in as fast as possible to get on to the next thing on the list. But what happens when you really think about what you are eating? If you take the time to savor each bite, really allow yourself to experience the flavors? This obviously doesn’t work with a frozen pizza because, well, gross, but if you are eating really good food you prepared yourself and taking the time to sit down and really enjoy it, suddenly you need so much less to be satisfied and really enjoy your meal. The first time I read this book I didn’t change anything in my diet, but I dropped five pounds anyway, and I know it’s because I was suddenly actually thinking about what I was putting in my mouth.
Who else has read this book? What did you think? How did it change the way you think about food?