International cuisines are gaining popularity with modern processed foods being added to your palate but most regions retain their food culture including dietary patterns that sets them apart, and France being one of them. Eating like the French people can help to improve your health and happiness too in the long run.
Daily Food Intake of the French
In France people begin their day with a light breakfast of tea or coffee with bread or croissant, jam and butter. Lunch is the heaviest meal of the day with four courses beginning with a starter of cold cuts and raw vegetables followed by a main dish that is usually poultry or red meat with vegetables and starch. The third course consists of cheese followed by dessert. Dinner again is a simple and small meal. This dietary pattern has been a debatable topic for many a years for the scientific community. Their fiber intake seems to be relatively low and consumption of cereals, rice, nuts, fruits and beans is comparatively low as compared to other European countries. But it is seen that the French get 39% of energy from fat or saturated fat.
French Paradox: The incidence of cardiovascular and obesity is relatively low as far as the French are concerned. Scientists and researchers have tried to prove that the consumption of red wine is the reason behind the good health of the French people. Red grapes are believed to contain a rich source of flavonoids that makes red wine a healthy substitute for white wine, beer or other alcoholic drinks. Cheese, butter and red meat are consumed in generous quantities at most meals with organ meat being frequently eaten. But it has been proved that animal products contain saturated fats, cholesterol and other nutrients that are actually found to promote good health rather than deteriorate it.
Although supermarkets have become quite popular in France, many French people believe in shopping from the farmers market where they can get fresh and good quality food products. French people often sample four to five stores before they actually buy whether it is a baker, butcher or a fishmonger. Schools in France also serve four course healthy foods so this habit developed during childhood just carries on. On an average it has been claimed that about 75% of French people would prefer modest gourmet food over heavy meals in luxury hotels.
Slow Eating & Small Portion:
The French environment promotes slow eating with small bites and minimal snacking. Another feature of French cuisine is smaller portion sizes compared to American portions. Though French food is rich in butter, cream and cheese but due to small portions they consume less so fewer calories result in less number of obese and overweight people.
To conclude we should learn to cultivate a healthy habit towards food like the French. Emphasize on nutrient dense animal products and food quality and then enjoy a good meal while connecting with family and friends and do give in to your rich sinful food habits once in a while.