The message of this book could be a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective. There is no hard science, no clearly-defined plan, and no lists of food to have or have not; instead, you'll find simple tricks that boil down to eating carefully prepared seasonal food, exercising more and refusing to think of food as something that inspires guilt. It's both a practical message and far easier said than done in today's "no pain, no gain" culture.
Author Mireille Guiliano is CEO of Veuve Clicquot, and French Women Don't Get Fat offers a concept of sensible pleasures: If you have a chocolate croissant for breakfast, have a vegetable-based lunch--or take an extra walk and pass on the bread basket at dinner. Guiliano's insistence on simple measures slowly creating substantial improvements are reassuring, and her suggestion to ignore the scale and learn to live by the "zipper test" could work wonders for those who get wrapped up in tiny details of diet. She sympathizes that deprivation can lead straight to overindulgence when it comes to favorite foods, but then, in a most French manner, treats them as a pleasure that needs to be sated, rather than a battle to be fought.
A number of recipes are included, from a weight-loss enhancing leek soup to a lush chocolate mousse; they read more like what you'd find in a French cookbook rather than an American diet book. Most appealingly, these are guidelines and tricks that could be easily sustainable over a lifetime. If you agree that food is meant to be appreciated--but no more so than having a trim waist--these charmingly French recommendations could set you on the path to a future filled with both croissants and high fashion. --Jill Lightner
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From Publishers Weekly
Guiliano's approach to healthy living is hardly revolutionary: just last month, the New York Times Magazine
ran a story on the well-known "French paradox," which finds French people, those wine- guzzling, Brie-noshing, carb-loving folk, to be much thinner and healthier than diet-obsessed Americans. Guiliano, however, isn't so interested in the sociocultural aspects of this oddity. Rather, befitting her status as CEO of Clicquot (as in Veuve Clicquot, the French Champagne house), she cares more about showing how judicious consumption of good food (and good Champagne) can result in a trim figure and a happy life. It's a welcome reprieve from the scores of diet books out there; there's nary a mention of calories, anaerobic energy, glycemic index or any of the other hallmarks of the genre. Instead, Guiliano shares anecdotes about how, as a teen, she returned to her native France from a year studying in Massachusetts looking "like a sack of potatoes," and slimmed down. She did this, of course, by adapting the tenets of French eating: eating three substantial meals a day, consuming smaller portions and lots of fruits and vegetables, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, drinking plenty of water and not depriving herself of treats every once in a while. In other words, Guiliano listened to common sense. Her book, with its amusing asides about her life and work, occasional lapses into French and inspiring recipes (Zucchini Flower Omelet; Salad of Duck à l'Orange) is a stirring reminder of the importance of joie de vivre.
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