Eating the French way

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Ooh-la-la. The French - and French women in particular - somehow manage to indulge in wine, bread, cheese and rich food... without increasing their waistlines. Mireille Guiliano writes about this phenomenon in her bestseller, French Women Don't Get Fat.

So what's their secret? First, they savor their food. Each meal is a leisurely event, marked by good food and good conversation. In America, there's a double meaning to the term "fast food." We're constantly on the run, and we're barely aware of the food we're putting in our mouths - and our bodies. In fact, author Brian Wansink, Ph.D., calls this "mindless eating" and has devoted an entire book to the topic: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.

Another secret of the French is portion control. On this side of the Atlantic, we super-size everything. The documentary "Super Size Me" is a perfect example of Americans' obsession with large portions. Even McDonald's in Paris serves smaller portions, with the same menu items containing fewer calories-for instance, there are fewer fries in a serving and fewer ounces in a large soda.

The French, au contraire, are more concerned with quality than quantity. Author Guiliano explains how a small portion of a fine cheese or a single piece of gourmet chocolate is more satisfying than a large helping of lesser-quality cheese or chocolate.

The bottom line? When in America, do as the French do.

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