How did you all do on your first week being French? Did any of you try the leek soup weekend? For me, I admit I was not perfect. I ate mindlessly and too much more than once. However if I focus on the positives, I realize that it wasn't a total failure.
Positive changes I made this week:
1. I drank at least 8 glasses of water a day
2. Less than 8 oz. soda the whole week
3. I ate at regular times
4. I ate breakfast every day
Now that the snow and ice have melted (hooray!) my goals this week are:
1. Going for a 20 minute walk each day.
2. Eating slowly, savor every bite
3. Don't stock my offenders at home
4. Eat two daily servings of plain yogurt a day. (For a recipe and directions, look here)
I am going to keep my goals small this week in order to be successful. I realize that I didn't have specific goals last week so when I first started writing this post I felt I had failed miserably all week. It was when I started thinking of the positive changes I made that I realized it wasn't all bad. One step at a time right?
So how did you like Chapters 4-6? Isn't Mireille Guiliano a great food writer? The way she speaks about fresh melons, tomatoes and strawberries makes your mouth water doesn't it? But I am getting ahead of myself.
Chapter 4: The Tales of the Three C's
In this chapter, Mireille highlights three women whom she has known in her life that have struggled with their weight. She highlights their specific offenders. For one, it was too much convenience food, for another, too much sugar, and for the third, mindless and emotional eating. Did you see yourself in any of these women? Maybe a little bit in each one?
The first woman, Camille, had a habit of drinking a bottle of beer every night before she went to sleep. It was a habit she had picked up in college, but when questioned, didn't truly enjoy the ritual. What old eating habits are you holding onto? Are you truly enjoying them? When I first found French Women Don't Get Fat, I was eating dessert every night. Was I truly enjoying it? No, I would often just eat anything sweet. I weaned myself off this habit by drinking a hot citron presse when I would usually have dessert. The ritual of having something was satisfied and I slept better for not having that sugar before bed. After a week or so, I didn't crave the dessert anymore.
Caroline, the second woman, was a sugar fiend. Can you see yourself in her? What did you think of Mireille's trick of savoring two bites of dessert and passing it to someone else? I could never see myself doing this, but it all boils down to the quality of the dessert. If it is a richly flavored chocolate dessert made with cocoa of high percentage, I feel satisfied with just two bites. If it is an inferior dessert, I do not feel satisfied with just two bites. Quality in everything!
I identify with Connie the most, but I have a feeling, most stay at home moms do. She learned to shop from her mother who did her grocery shopping at the supermarket and made it a twice monthly affair. Mireille wants us to shop every couple of days but seriously, I think I'm going to have to work around this one. When you're toting antsy children with you to the supermarket, you do what needs to be done. I do think though that if you plan your meals and stay away from the convenience foods, you can still live somewhat French. Connie, was single however, and really took to being able to shop for her food at the market in the morning and plan her meals on a daily basis.
1. Can you see yourself modifying any of your bad habits using the French tricks Mireille taught these women? Which specific ones?
Chapter 5: Il Faut des Rites
In this chapter, Mireille writes about the rituals of the table. French women take their meal times seriously. There is no eating in front of the T.V., no reading the paper while you're eating, no eating at the counter. French women know how to serve their meals in courses, plated in the middle of exquisite plates. They put their food on real plates, use real napkins, and real silverware. When I first discovered this book, this is the chapter I loved the most and which has sadly fallen by the wayside for me. I loved plating my food on nice plates. I served myself courses and ate them in their individual dishes. I didn't mind the extra plates as I have a dishwasher and it was easy to pop them in. French women do not serve their whole dinner on one big plate. I need to get back to this again. It just made the whole meal seem so special.
Chapter 6: The Season and the Seasonings
Mireille talks about the importance of eating seasonally in order to enjoy food at the height of its flavor. She makes my mouth water as she describes the perfect summer tomato. It's true. When we eat fruits and vegetables at their best, they alone seem like feasts. French women eat many more fruits and vegetables than American women and their waistlines are the better for it. The question is though, in the dead of winter, how can we incorporate this idea into our menus? For me, I have been eating clementines, bananas and prunes for fruit. For vegetables, I have been eating frozen veggies. I justify that frozen veggies taste better this time of year than the "fresh" ones because they were picked during the summer when they were ripe and then frozen rather than being picked unripe and shipped halfway around the world. I do find winter very hard though. By March, I find myself drooling over the photos of fresh peaches in Rick Stein's French Odyssey and the tomato tarts in My French Kitchen and dreaming of the first fresh vegetable to arrive once the growing season starts.
Homework for this week:
1. Set small goals for yourself. Imagine tailoring your diet as Mireille talks about tailoring a fine Chanel suit. (Don't you feel more French already?)
2. Eat at least one meal a day at home and treat yourself like you are at the finest French restaurant. Plate your meal on a nice plate, eat sitting down, chew slowly.
Not too much to ask huh? Whenever we are re-training ourselves we must go slowly. Remember, this is not about deprivation, but about finding pleasure in eating and in rituals and in this way we will feel completely satisfied and pampered with less. We will be discussing chapters 7 and 8 next Friday. Until then, bonne chance!