Bonjour to you lovely French people! Can you believe it is not only Friday, but April? Spring is taking her time getting dressed this year, and the anticipation has me frenzied, but I think the final product will be worth it. She is adorning her hair in lots of delicate pink and purple blossoms and the hem of her dress is decorated in daffodils, tulips, and narcissus. She is merely waiting for the sun to make her grand entrance.
With the arrival of April however, comes not only spring, but also a new book for French Fridays, The French Don't Diet Plan by Dr. Will Clower. This is a bit of a departure for French Friday since it is an actual plan, but there is so much we can learn from this book and tricks to help us slow down, slim down, and enjoy our food. I would recommend picking up a copy for yourself or checking one out from the library to understand the nuances of the plan. Obviously I can't discuss all of his points, but I will be touching on the ones that affect my weight loss journey.
Today, I will be discussing Part 1 of The French Don't Diet Plan which encompasses the introduction, as well as Steps (chapters) 1 through 3. What was most profound to me about this plan, is that Dr. Clower endorses eating REAL food. I know you're thinking, "Well, isn't food all we eat?" But the author deduces that the majority of food in American supermarkets is "faux", filled with inventions and ingredients designed to keep them shelf stable, moist, smelling appetizing, sweetening them, etc. There is nothing real about these ingredients and they are just designed to fool us into thinking the food is real. French people eat REAL food which is what our bodies are designed to eat. The French eat vegetables, cheeses, yogurts, eggs, meats, while Americans are eating packaged lettuce gassed with chemicals to make it last longer, cheese products, "yogurts" with thickeners, sweeteners and stabilizers, egg substitutes, and meat that has been cured with nitrites and flavorings. Real food grows from the ground, or comes from an animal that had a mother and a father. There are no inventions or added ingredients in a tomato or an egg, they are just a tomato or an egg, but when you look at egg substitutes, or canned tomato products, you are ingesting a lot more than just egg and tomato.
Dr. Clower recommends a pantry purge and eating only real food. I completely understand Dr. Clower's recommendation of eating real food. In fact, when I thought about all of the "inventions" in my diet, it kind of grossed me out a little and made me angry at the American system of food commerce. However, I know that a pantry purge is going to be difficult for me to do. Partly because I think of all the wasted money in "food" and I know that my pantry will be mainly empty when I'm finished with the exception of a container of grits, some old fashioned oats, and the baking ingredients like flour, sugar and my stash of high end chocolates. But all of the rest would have to go. Am I ready for that? Do I really want to continue to consume "inventions"? Do I really want my kids to continue to consume "inventions"?
This morning, I quickly grabbed four products out of my pantry to examine: Rice Krispies, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Spirals, Carnation Instant Breakfast by Nestle, and Marie Callender's Whole Grain Caesar Gourmet Croutons. I have always looked at the calories and the fiber in products as to how "good" or "bad" they were, but Dr. Clower is telling us to retrain ourselves to look for "inventions". Deep breath....okay, here I go.
The Rice Krispies contain rice, sugar, salt (okay so far), malt flavoring (hmmm....) and high fructose corn syrup (doh! invention!) And that is in a cereal that I have never thought of as sweet.
Carnation Instant Breakfast by Nestle. This touts itself on the outside of the package as being a "complete nutritional drink" with "2x protein of an egg and 2x the calcium of yogurt". I sometimes give this to my children for breakfast with a piece of toast. Gulp, looking on the back....nonfat milk, sugar (okay, real so far), maltodextrin, cocoa processed with alkali, lactose, dicalcium phosphate, natural and artificial flavors, carrageenan, sodium aluminosilicate, soy lecithin, magnesium hydroxide, sodium ascorbate, vitamin E acetate, vitamin A palmitate, .....ugh, I'm getting weary and disgusted....and I'm only halfway through!
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Spirals. This is a twice monthly staple in our house because it is quick to prepare and the kids love it. The "enriched macaroni product" contains: Wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, Thiamin monotriate, riboflavin, and folic acid. (I read wheat flour that has been stripped of it's vitamins so the vitamins are added back in). The Cheese Sauce Mix contains: whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, salt, sodium tripolyphosphate, citric acid, lactic acid, sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, milk, yellow 5, yellow 6, enzymes, cheese culture) Bingo, inventions galore!
Marie Callender's Whole Grain Caesar Gourmet Croutons. I bought these because they touted whole grains and were relatively low in calories. Looking at the back, they contain: Whole wheat flour, water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup....and on and on. I'll stop there since I've already come to two inventions in the first four ingredients!
I know my diet would be better if I stopped eating inventions. The question is, do I have the guts to actually do it? I know that making my own croutons from bread that I've baked would be healthier, but can I give up the convenience? On the same note, can I make my own macaroni and cheese to rid my children's diet of yellow 5 and 6 and sodium tripolyphosphate? When I think of it in terms of ridding my diet of these inventions, of course I can make my own food from real ingredients, it is just my penny pinching side that is going to have a hard time just throwing these fake foods away. Perhaps this step will be gradual for me. As I use them up, just not replace them.
Lose your Sweet Tooth
Dr. Clower goes on to say that when we eliminate these fake foods (like high fructose corn syrup) from our diet, we will eventually lose our sweet tooth. Real dessert and real chocolate will be a luxurious end to our meals, instead of something we crave and overeat. American ooey gooey desserts will just become cloyingly sweet and you will begin to love yogurts, and cheeses, and fruit tarts as desserts.
Homework for this week:
1. Do a pantry purge (if you dare). If you are like me, at least look at the ingredient lists of things in your pantry. How do you feel about including these "non-food ingredients" in your diet? How do you think your diet would change if you were only eating real food? Think about how eating only real food might free you from calorie counting, carb counting, sugar counting, etc.
Next week, I will continue to discuss The French Don't Diet Plan with Part 2: How the French Eat. This section has really helped me with my biggest hurdle to weight loss, eating too fast. I hope to see you all there! In the meantime, tie your scarves jauntily around your necks and go out for a stroll to admire Spring's beautiful new dress.