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Book Review: French Women Don’t Get Fat – The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano

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While not a new book, French Women Don't Get Fat is such a cultural phenomenon in the US that I was very excited to have the chance to review the newly slimmed down paperback version with added recipes.  Many of my recent diet articles have focused on simply eating less.  Instead of deprivation or weird food restrictions (no bread, no fat, no meat), why not simply eat what you love in smaller quantities?

Author Mireille Guiliano is a French businesswoman who works for my favorite Champagne, Veuve Clicquot, and as the President and CEO of US based Clicquot, Inc., (now a division of LVMH) managed to greatly increase Veuve Clicquot's American marketshare.  She is not a nutritionist, a chef, a dietician, or a health professional.  She is a French woman who has managed to lose and maintain her weight and has helped many of her friends and co-workers do the same. 

Guiliano loves to eat, loves her wine and champagne, and also understands the French paradox of generally healthier hearts and smaller waistlines in a country where alcohol and cheese are a way of life. 

Let's face reality, we are generally less healthy in the US.  We drink more soda and flavored drinks, more fruit juices, and less water.  We prefer hard liquor mixed with soft drinks and juices to wine. 

We eat out more, eat more fast food, eat more fried food, eat larger portions, eat on the run, and tend to focus on single course meals (pasta, meat, salad).  We exercise less (even basic walking), relax less, enjoy ourselves less.  And we wonder why we have obesity and health problems! 

In researching for this review I needless to say read many other reviews of the book and found people's responses, and particularly their defensiveness, quite interesting.  One reviewer states, "Having watched the Dateline special on this book and scanning it for an hour in the bookstore.. I am surprised that it is getting such glorious reviews. Watching the author actually made my skin crawl a little. She spoke as if the way to lose weight was so simple and we all need this book because we are obviously not very bright."  Oh no!  We might actually have to discipline ourselves?

Guiliano believes, and I have to agree, that even in America we can lose weight and enjoy ourselves as the French do.  We can control what we eat, how we eat, and what we do.  Long walks, lots of water, a wide variety of foods on the plate, wine and champagne with meals, chocolate on occasion.  Eat lots of fruit, lots of vegetables, good dark chocolate, good wine, new flavors, smaller portions but more things! 

She even has a French Women Don't Get Fat website with support groups, recipes, videos, and advice.  Changing our way of life is the only way to save our lives and this book, written in a lovely conversational tone that inspires action, is a great way to start.  See you later, I have some chocolate to eat.

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About Lynda Lippin