I think Alex brought it up first, after all, he’s a teenager and totally preoccupied with image…his own and the people he sees. So when Alex mentioned that he hadn’t seen any fat Parisians we all looked at each other, blinked, looked around at all the people, and continued on our way. It’s that way with Alex…he’ll say exactly what’s on his mind, no punches pulled, no spin…just the truth as he sees it. But it wasn’t long before we all noticed it and agreed…we didn’t see any fat Parisians. That’s not to say they don’t exist, perhaps they do…we just didn’t see any.
We were face-to-face with the French Paradox! Each day we would find ourselves in a restaurant filled with Parisians and each day we would try to guess how they could possibly remain trim and flab free while joyously dining on rich, delicious food. We observed several things that might account for this.
- The French eat much, much slower than we Americans do. They pause to contemplate and converse. It’s as if they actually enjoy eating!
- They do have McDonalds and Burger Kings but not nearly as many as we have in our cities…for the most part the fast food restaurants seem to be sited for tourists.
- Packaged food exists in their grocery stores but it’s comprised of whole foods, prepared and packaged in a deli manner…I didn’t see bags of chips, candy, soda pop, frozen Frankenstein food (example: hot pockets).
- They don’t eat between meals, or while driving, or walking, or while doing anything else.
- Parisian restaurants serve reasonable portions of excellent food. Quality not quantity.
Since I’ve been home I’ve done a little research on this conundrum and I’ve found that, as with any issue involving food, there is a wide range of opinions on this topic and quite a lively debate. I’ve read Dr. Will Clower’s book The French Don’t Diet Plan and in it he argues that it’s partly attributable to the behavior and cultural characteristics that we observed while in Paris. He includes lots of statistics, cites lots of studies, and quotes lots of happy people who changed their eating habits to be more “French” and are subsequently trim and well fed. I’m not sure what it’s all about, but I’m sure there is no easy answer. I think I’ll continue to eat “French” since it’s what I’ve been doing for years. I’m sure I need to eat slower and smaller portions couldn’t hurt either, and thankfully spring is here (almost) and long walks with my dog can go back on my daily agenda.
What do you think?
Head over to What Geeks Eat… to see the delicious porklettes I made this week.