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USA Today reports this morning on author Mireille Guiliano, who has written a book entitled “French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure,” suggesting, in essence, that the reason Americans tend to get fat is because they don’t really enjoy food. She calls her book a “non-diet book” because it doesn’t talk about calories, carbs or fat. Rather, it posits that people can lose weight by only eating good food and by relaxing and savoring every bite.

The paper writes: “French women eat with all five senses, Guiliano says, allowing less to seem like more. When she is with friends in Paris, even if they are just eating sandwiches, ‘we sit down, take our time, look at the sandwich, admire the bread or the butter on it. We eat slowly. We chew well. We stop between bites.’”

In addition to the way in which people eat, the suggestion is that despite the fact that French food is stereotypically viewed as high in fat, the fact is that they tend to consume a lot more fresh food. They don’t eat as much fast food as Americans, don’t skip meals and then gorge themselves on unhealthy food, and don’t obsess about diet while ignoring basic nutrition fundamentals.

The statistics tend to support Guiliano’s premise. The French say that 11 percent of that nation’s population is obese, compared to about a third of US residents.
KC's View:
First of all, any diet book named after Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Julie Delpy has to be taken seriously…

But seriously, this is yet another instance in which a common sense approach to food actually can be marketed as something revolutionary. Guiliano is absolutely right that sometimes Americans’ relationship with food seems to have nothing to do with pleasure, but rather is closer to the relationship an automobile has with gasoline – fill ‘er up and top it off.

About a year ago, we were lucky enough to be in Paris, where we had lunch with a friend and business associate – and it was a simple yet remarkable meal because it was delicious and unhurried. We didn’t walk away feeling stuffed or sleepy, even though we’d had the requisite glass of wine. Rather, we felt energized – because a simple meal had become an experience, and the conversation fed off the quality of the meal. (Or maybe the meal fed off the quality of the conversation. No matter. The result was the same.)

Theologian Thomas Aquinas once said that gluttony was eating too soon, eating too fast, eating too much, eating too eagerly or eating too greedily. There’s nothing intemperate or undisciplined about the French approach to food – far from it.