French women who don't get fat and have small wardrobes!

(548 Posts)
NamasteNatalie Tue 31-Dec-13 09:23:59

In my quest to change my life around (defrump, look younger, lose weight, have gorgeous skin & hair, look fabulous and de-clutter), I have treated myself to 2 new books that have had a very positive effect on me.

I have recently finished A Guide to Elegance and have just started reading French Women Don't get Fat.

What has slapped me in the face, is that French women have a completely different culture to us, even though they are just a few miles away! I'm not sure if things have changed in the past couple of decades, but the French women I know seem to still have a similar mentality. I read the style book first and it completely changed the way I look at clothes and how I should shop. I threw loads of things away and decided to invest in a few good quality things instead. Ok, so not bought them yet as I am on a diet and makeover grin. That brings me onto the second book. I saw this at the airport and bought it for a laugh. I thought it was a comedy, but found that again, it is about less is more. I am still reading the book, but again, French women see food in a different way, see treats as treats, not every day things to eat and prefer great quality in small quantities rather than platefuls of quick sugar hits.

Come talk to me about all things French and help return my life around.

bulby Tue 31-Dec-13 09:29:49

I read an article the other day ( BBC?) that basically said that the French woman thing is a total myth and that actually many Parisians virtually starve themselves to maintain their slight figures. It was written by a 'normal' sized business women and made quite sad reading really. That said I do realise that many French do have a different attitude to food but I would take the book with a pinch of salt.

bettykt Tue 31-Dec-13 09:36:07

article in Daily Mail about fat French women not being able to find a job

Read the above article and I too took it with a pinch of salt.

UriGeller Tue 31-Dec-13 09:38:36

Its a myth. I know loads of "fat" French women, women who are happy fat and those who hate it. Those who stuff themselves with pastries and those who worry about every morsel. Women come in all sizes, even French women!

The thing about clothes, imo French women spend less on the throwaway primarky type stuff that we buy here, they dont seem to be into 'up to the minute' fashion like the english so they buy more mainstream, wearable stuff less often, which can make it look like they are classicly, timelessly, dressed.

sybilfaulty Tue 31-Dec-13 09:42:06

I think we have an image of French woman as chic, stylish, navy wearing skinnies but that isnt the reality. There are very chic women eg in Paris but plenty of less glamorous, less soigné women in jogging bottoms and with bad dye jobs in industrial towns (and no doubt in Paris as well).

I do think the food thing is sound though. The other big difference is that French women ( and most people in continental Europe) drink far less than we do and certainly don't get drunk. Hic

naturelover Tue 31-Dec-13 09:42:50

I have read both books (and lived in France).

Since I adopted the quality over quantity principle I too have found it easy to maintain my weight. I don't deprive myself of anything, but I'm not even tempted by Mars bars at petrol stations etc. When I go out I will sometimes have one glass only of the best wine on the wine list (to be fair I've never been a big drinker). I have a major sweet tooth but I try to only have dessert if I really want it, not out of habit. Sometimes I don't have dessert because I realise I'm not actually hungry anymore!

I definitely eat more veg, and try to snack only when I really need it (nuts, fruit, yoghurt). I walk a lot anyway, and now see the value in that instead of disregarding it. (I notice I get a bit less toned during school holidays when I'm not doing all the school runs on foot.) I drink mainly water and green tea, occasional glass of good red wine. One coffee per day (good coffee only!) I literally never drink fizzy drinks or juice.

Re clothes, I think Paris and Cote d'Azur (ie affluent places) are very stylish, and I love people-watching there. But in more rural areas of France I saw lots of bad hair dye, lots of overweight people and tattoos, and nasty clothes.

I don't have many clothes (lack of money) so in a way this has forced me to be discerning about what I buy. I now avoid synthetic fibres almost completely. I iron all my cotton stuff, polish my shoes, generally look after my stuff. And I buy lots of neutrals too (esp after having my colours done which confirmed that I suit grey, black, navy, white - colours I have always been drawn to). I will never win a prize for looking original or trendy but I like to think I look elegant (and as I get older this is what I aim for anyway). I keep my clothes until they wear out. Perhaps my friends really are sick of seeing me in the same four jumpers but the fact is I've found what suits me and what I feel comfortable in. Having a stable weight helps with wardrobe longevity. I have only one size of clothing.

I store summer stuff in a big box during winter and vice versa, which means my small wardrobe looks even smaller. Choosing what to wear is quick! I do love scarves and kid tell myself that it keeps things interesting.

sultrywinter Tue 31-Dec-13 09:43:53

I'm British and I see treats as treats. I'm not fat and I have a small wardrobe grin

Seriously though, I understand what you're saying and the books you've mentioned are great at motivating - I'm just about to read Ooh La La by Jamie Cat Callan as I love all style/lifestyle books and find them motivating myself!

Others I've enjoyed are Lessons from Madame Chic. There is a new Guillano book out in January about ageing - I'll no doubt get that too!

Good luck in your style project, less is more in most areas of our lives - that's the secret in mine!

TheGirlFromIpanema Tue 31-Dec-13 09:44:23

My mate who lives in France has discovered that it is near impossible to maintain a decent figure with such glorious pastries etc on offer all day every day grin She has plenty of French friends over there and they are all similar sizes and weights to any group of friends you might find over here.

There is no mythical French way ime.

Friend also complains about the lack of cheap fashion in her area but buys armfuls of primarni when visiting home and then looks tres chic alongside her French friends wink

DorisButtons Tue 31-Dec-13 09:49:42

I've lived in France and I feel it's true about the treats. Gorgeous pattiseries, chocolatiers et al - but it is indeed a treat, not just chucking 8 donuts into your trolley at tesco - and kids don't graze all day from a buffet.

NamasteNatalie Tue 31-Dec-13 09:59:34

sultry, her new book is "French Women Don't have Facelift's". I was about to buy it, then thought I should read the fat one first grin

FrugalFashionista Tue 31-Dec-13 09:59:49

I'm not French but I do believe in the 'quality over quantity' and 'eat everything but in moderation' approaches. I also love good food (baking crostini as I type wink ). We try to eat delicious homemade meals every day - not having a microwave helps wink

I read the French diet book some time ago. Combined with Brian Wansink's Mindless Eating, I shed the few remaining extra post-preg kilos and got back to my ideal weight without depriving myself, still eating delicious meals every day. (No, I didn't do any leek soup craziness, just portion control, increased fruit & veg, more exercise, avoiding mindless eating in front of the telly, and extra helpings of bread).

I've stayed indoors a lot over the past few months (travel, holidays, long workdays, bad weather, restaurant meals) and my weight has crept up, so I'm going to revisit Mindless Eating in Jan to get back to my ideal weight.

burnishedsilver Tue 31-Dec-13 10:09:12

The first step to staying thin like a French woman is to smoke like a chimney.

santamarianovella Tue 31-Dec-13 10:09:55

This whole believe that French women can eat whatever they like and are super stylish,is an old myth,some French women have really bad skin,terrible fashion sense,and look frumpy,
when foreigners visit paris,they stick to the most popular stylish parts,where young and stylish women work and frequent. Thus they assume that this is how all French people dress and look like.
A big number of them are very beautiful and stylish but so are a lot of women in many major European cities,

And French women are terrible at taking care of their health,they don't like to excersice,or like outdoor activities, smoke,and drink way too much.

People who live in Northern Europe are a better example,they eat healthy balanced food,( lots of fish,vegetables,cheese,) ,love outdoor activities,and are generally more health conscious then French people. And they look way healthier and younger.

And. I'm half French BTW, smile

tethersend Tue 31-Dec-13 10:15:54

I think French society is actually pretty chauvinistic, and women who deviate from the 'norm' in any way are marginalised in a way they would not be over here.

Thus, women starve themselves, wear clothes which make them look attractive rather than just because they like them, and put up with affairs with a shrug and a suck on a gauloise grin

It's not a mentality I want to aspire to, TBH

Disregarding the French thing for a sec, frugal and naturelover have it exactly right with regards to food quality and mindfulness. If we choose the best possible quality food we can get, whether a cake, a carrot or a steak, and always eat mindfully - take a few breaths, relax, look at your food, taste it, eat slowly without distractions (such as tv, mn or work)and be aware of your body's response to it, you get back in touch with your real appetite, which tells you when and what you need to eat and when you should stop. (Try eating a McDonalds meal this way and see how enjoyable it is...answer, not very wink). It serves a fantastic purpose, appetite, it is there to help us, not to be fought against. By listening to it we will eat the right things in the right quantity, and together with some regular movement, we can be our natural healthy weight.

sultrywinter Tue 31-Dec-13 10:43:26

I've eaten at McDonalds twice in the last year. Twice a year instead of twice a week is 'normal' for me. I hate fast food - it's not food it's fuel.

lurkingaround Tue 31-Dec-13 10:44:49

Agree. Quality over quantity absolutely. Makes watching what you eat much easier. So if I really want chocolate, I'll have a bit, but I will only spend my calories on really good quality stuff. There is nothing I can't have, but I like to spend my calories on quality. Is it nice enough to waste calories on is my mantra. Likewise with everything. And like a pp I wouldn't dream of buying a Mars bar or its ilk, awful stuff. Or a fizzy drink. Of course I overspend (cals and money) from time to time and I have to watch my weight (I'm not overly thin, size 12) but it's not so hard when you bear in mind the quality thing.

annieorangutan Tue 31-Dec-13 11:05:06

Im very slim 6-8 and I eat all manner of junk and fizzy drinks. I never watch my weight as I just eat when Im hungry and if I eat a big meal I probably wont eat much for rest of day not cause Im cutting back, its just because the earlier meal would of filled me up.Nothing should be banned in your diet

nickEcave Tue 31-Dec-13 11:12:09

santa has it right. If you go to the fashionable areas of any European capital you will see beautiful affluent people wearing extremely nice clothes and looking very stylish. This does not translate into a whole country of stylish people.

BitScary Tue 31-Dec-13 11:12:55

Actually I think only French women aged 35ish and up adhere to the classic capsule wardrobe thing. younger French women like a fast fashion fix as much as anyone else.
Re.Food, being 'maigre' is still very very important and French women are extremely careful about what they eat. French people eat big meals but don't snack in between. I think that's probably good for the metabolism, to let oneself get nice and hungry before eating?

teta Tue 31-Dec-13 11:30:11

I've lived in a place overseas with lots of French women.I would say they are no smarter or slimmer than the vast number of English women.In fact if one more person espouses the brilliance of the French in anything ( be it eating ,child rearing or dressing) I shall cheerfully murder them.The only thing the French are good at doing is at self publicising themselves.The English are particularly bad at being derogatory about themselves.

Mindboggle Tue 31-Dec-13 11:43:40

There are some horribly dressed women in Paris and plenty who are overweight. That said, I do think it's easier to maintain a steady weight in France because the attitude to eating is different. I don't find that people starve themselves but they only eat when they can name the meal! People eat breakfast, lunch sometimes a gouter and then dinner. People never really graze on junk food.
One thing that strikes me about Britain now (for men and women) is how tons of people seem to have no clue about dressing appropriately for the weather, the number of people who don't wear a winter coat or who wander about in a cardy or a jogging top when it's 5 degrees is just nuts!

Bonsoir Tue 31-Dec-13 11:55:48

I have lived in Paris for a long time, I go to England often and I have travelled a lot in Europe and do so still several times a year.

I don't think the Parisian style thing is a myth - it certainly isn't where I live and holiday. There is anti-greed anti-bling pro-moderation streak in French society that is very strong indeed. I love it - it was probably what drew me to live here in the first place.

The women I know take extremely good care if their health. That dies not include show-offy exercising in public places <shudder> and obvious cosmetic surgery <double shudder>. Discretion is a virtue.

WigWearer Tue 31-Dec-13 12:04:01

burnishedsilver has it bang on, I'm afraid.

I spend a lot of time in Paris - all those chic, slim women have terrible skin and dyed hair. They look chic from a distance, but up close they're tragic - emaciated, yellow - and it's because it's all based on fags as appetite suppressants.

Madamfrog Tue 31-Dec-13 13:09:12

I'm French & live in SW France - Of course there are fat people in France, just fewer of them than in the UK. The obesity rate in GB is about 25% and here in France it is about 10%. The overweight rates probably correspond. It is going up and we are worried about it as foreign eating-styles are creeping in.

On balance we eat a lot more raw salady stuff every day than people in Britain, we don't drink anything like as much alcohol or fizzy drinks as UK people and we don't eat take-aways nearly as much or snack between meals.

We eat 2 'proper' meals a day ie entrée main course cheese and/or pudding (pudding is eg fruit or a yoghurt, occasionally what GB people call a pudding) but though we don't eat such big quantities of food, there is much more variety. We don't really eat a lot of packet-food or pre-prepared stuff. 'Fast food' in a café is steak+salad + water & a cup of coffee. We eat plain bread with every meal. (Weirdly the bread-consumption curve mirrors the overweightness curve - bread consumption goes down & oveirweightness goes up).

Did I mention we don't eat between meals? I think that makes a big difference. We don't for example eat crisps etc except at parties and even then nobody really seems to eat them anyway (so for a party you buy one packet of crisps for nibbles and the rest is olives or bits of saucisson or postage-sized bits of thin quiche etc). Only children eat things like mars bars.

As for dressing that's up to individuals, but I see British people a lot (touristy area) and you can spot them a mile away - the men are very often shaven-headed & lardy (unusual here unless you are a bouncer) and the women just look frumpy (Boden, boden and more boden) both sexes are generally bigger pinker and somehow squashier looking than we are.

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