The French are clearly masters at making everything seem oh so effortless, whether it’s their beauty routine, where they travel, and even how they set their tables. Given that we all apparently aspire to replicate that certain je ne sais quoi that Parisians possess—the ability to look and feel good while still scarfing down half a baguette with each meal—Elissa Goldenberg, an American expat living in France, graciously shared her findings on MindBodyGreen.
A native of health-conscious California, she unraveled the mystery of staying in shape like a French woman (without sacrificing those delicious carbs). Here are three habits Goldenberg picked up for maintaining a healthy weight and feeling confident.
Eat Real Food
Ditch packaged diet foods and opt for real meat, fresh produce, and full-fat products. "Low-fat or non-fat options are sparse [and] full-fat products are typically less processed and usually contain less sugar," says Goldenberg. Natural foods tend to keep our stomachs fuller and sugar levels stable, meaning you won't be reaching for that oversweetened energy drink to survive the afternoon slump.
Ever wonder why French women seem to exude sensuality with something as simple as eating? That's because they truly believe that healthy living includes enjoying foods that are both nourishing and indulgent—and not depriving yourself of that crème brûlée. It's all about finding a balance, says Goldenberg, which will "ward off feelings of guilt when you choose to enjoy every last bite of that tarte Tatin."
Make Meals More Social
Unlike the fast food culture of America, the French approach eating as a time to feed the body, mind, and soul. "Lunch was an opportunity to take a break, socialize, and truly enjoy the meal in front of me," says Goldenberg. French people often take hours to eat, filling the time with conversation, debate, and much-valued face time with family and friends—thus eliminating the chance to overeat or load up on less-healthy comfort foods.
Read the French girl's guide to entertaining next.