French Women Don’t Get Fat – Review

When Frenchwoman Mireille Guiliano came to the US for a short stint as part of a student exchange program, she took back to France an additional and unwanted twenty pounds from the American way of eating. Once back in France, she put on more weight until her family stepped in. Loading her up with words of wisdom, tried and true advice and encouraging the French way of eating, Mireille lost the excess pounds. In this book, she shares with us her secrets.

If you pick up this book expecting to see a diet book, you are wrong. There is no day by day meal planner, no workout regime. This book is part memoir, part good advice, part wake-up call. It is more of a book about French lifestyle, than it really is about losing weight.

The main points of the book:

*Food is meant to be enjoyed, not to induce guilt.

*Eat in moderation

*Drink water

*Walk whenever you get the chance (particularly up and down stairs)

*And just enjoy life and stop counting numbers (calories and pounds).

French women eat three meals a day, and three course dinners. Wine, chocolate and breads are not “guilty pleasures”, that term is an oxymoron to the French. There are quite a few recipes sprinkled throughout the book, which would make it worth the buy. Otherwise, a library copy will do just fine, because its really just reinforcing the common sense. Eat less, walk more, eat more fruits and veggies and less processed food. This seems to be an ideaology that Americans just can’t seem to get a hold of. That as well as a realistic concept of serving size. American’s are gluttons. I live in America, but was raised on Middle Eastern food, and there is always a disconnect from when I eat food from my country and when I go to an American restaurant. Plates usually hold 2-3x the amount of food that should be eaten during one meal. Fast food chains spring up like weeds, particularly in poor neighborhoods and American’s don’t understand the value and joy of food, because everything shoved in our face on TV ads and in the grocery store is processed and filled with all sorts of multi-syllabic ingredients that are not natural.

My first reaction to this book was to feel slightly insulted when Mireille would compare French and American food, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized she’s right, and we’ve just been in denial.

My other thought for this book, is who is the audience that will really be able to follow her advice. It seems simple enough. But in truth, there are a number of single parents, low-income families that are not aware of the faults of the food industry. That can’t afford to go to the Farmer’s Market to pick up the healthiest fruits and veggies (which tend to be somewhat more expensive that supermarket brands). Although there will always be this health gap between the upper and lower classes, its a shame. Her advice is applicable, but only to those who have the time and the luxury of being able to be picky about their food.

French Women Don’t Get Fat
Mireille Guiliano
Alfred A. Knopf, 2005
ISBN 1400042127
256 pages


Find this book at your local library

7 responses to “French Women Don’t Get Fat – Review

  1. The first thing that came into my mind when I read the title was: THAT IS A LIE, because my 2 french friends are as chubby as some other americans I know hehehe.

    As u said, it is very easy on theory but to put it in practice is a totally diferent story… as my grandma says… if all advices were true and perfect they would not be given, would be sold!


  2. Very interesting. I do have to agree about the “food is meant to be enjoyed” but I think what many people forget is the moderation in all things. And be smart to begin with.

  3. Sounds interesting. I definitely would agree with the author’s idea that we eat too many processed foods. I don’t think Americans are alone in this though; I’m living in the UK now and the portions are just as big, the processed food just as common, and the fast food restaurants proliferate in precisely the same way. I think we do need to wake up a little, enjoy what we eat but eat a little less of it.

  4. Sometimes these books just make America look so terrible. Its good to hear about the food in other countries. I feel so cloistered away in the US., I like to learn about the food and eating cultures of other nations, whether its better, same or worse than ours.

  5. I used to get fresh produce at a farmer’s market, but now that’s too pricey for me. I’ve found that for a modest cost and a little work, I can grow some veggies in my yard- it’s a lot of fun, it tastes great (even my husb will eat the garden green beans) and my four-year-old is learning that food comes from plants, not factories (we also watch a show on tv called “dirty jobs” where she’s seen how processed food actually gets made- a real eye-opener!)

  6. Pingback: Bon apetite! « The Novel World

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