French women don’t get fat.

They really don’t. I’ve visited the romantic country of France several times in my 24 years and I once nannied for a French family in a picturesque town at the foot of the French alps, complete with horses, green pastures and dirt roads.

While living with this family, I was treated like one of their own. They carted me to their friends’ houses for dinners and for weekends away. We went waterskiing and we drank champagne together. I attended the grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. And I secretly wished I’d been born a French woman.

One thing I learned as an au-pair in France, besides their contempt for the American president (hint: the year was 2005), is that they know how to eat and they know how to eat well. Florence (the chic mother of my dear French family) invited me into the kitchen and showed me some tricks used in traditional French cooking. Its been 4 1/2 years, so unfortunately, I don’t remember a lot. I wrote it all down but may never again locate that particular notebook. So sad.

But I will never forget the perfectly paired wine and cheese after one particular dinner. At 20 years old, I finally appreciated how wine could truly enhance the flavor of food. It was no longer simply a yummier-than-beer means to an end (the end being intoxication).

I studied French for 7 years and I pretty much love anything French or having to do with France. So when I found Mireille Guiliano‘s book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, I was hooked. (And I re-read it this week for inspiration since I am currently battling those last five pounds again, thanks Giovanna.) After a year spent in America as a teenager, Mireille returned to France as a fatter version of herself. “A sack of potatoes,” as her father sputtered at first sight of the new Mireille, possibly psychologically damaging her for years to come. 

Mireille chronicles the journey back to her svelte French self with the help of “Dr. Miracle,” outlining how you (yes, you!) can also shed the pounds, French-style. Meaning without deprivation or hours spent staring at yourself in the mirror at the gym fighting back the tears. Or rudely staring at the veterans of the gym, drinking your tears. (The gym can be a scary place, I know.) She delicately examines the vast differences between the average American and the average French kitchen, diet and lifestyle. She reveals her family’s culinary traditions and most-loved recipes.

Mireille points out that French women typically think about good things to eat while American women typically think about bad things they can’t eat. She teaches about the art of eating for pleasure, finding your unique equilibrium, and eating seasonally.

She also says you can eat bread, chocolate and wine daily and still be thin. Are you listening now?

Besides, it is true that French women don’t get fat. I was repeatedly amazed at how impossibly tiny ALL of the women were that I met (yes, they had children). And these moms were eating yummy, rich multiple-course meals. I never saw one abstain from dessert or wine. How do they do it???

Well, you’ve got to read French Women Don’t Get Fat to find out. If you refuse to read diet books, good for you. But this one is not a diet book. No, definitely not. Kind of the opposite. If anything, Mireille teaches you how to obtain maximum pleasure from each calorie ingested.

And then, if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend the next month daydreaming about visiting France, eating French croissants, drinking French wine and pretending to be a glamorous, impossibly thin French woman…


  1. I just wanted to comment and say that I really enjoyed reading your blog post here. It was very informative and I also digg the way you write! Keep it up and I’ll be back to read more in the future


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