Bon Appetit

>> Monday, July 27, 2009

As follow up to last week's "Size Doesn't Matter" blog post, we come back with an observation that perhaps in France, it's more that "size isn't an issue".

How do the French do it?

They eat amazingly rich food yet as a nation they do not have the obesity issues that we do. With a little help from a friend, our Strategic Planner Betsy Levine tackles the issue head on.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Betsy:

Much has been written about the French Paradox Рhow the French are able to eat all kinds of pat̩, cheese, bread and wine and yet never gain a pound, while Americans gain weight at the sight of a Snackwell. Much as also been made about the effects of nature vs. nurture.

My good friend Elizabeth Bard spends a lot of time exploring these issues in her forthcoming book Lunch in Paris: A Memoir with Recipes and in her blog of the same name (click here to read it).

This week, Elizabeth, who is 9-months pregnant with her first baby and lives in Paris, posted a lovely looking recipe for Rabbit with Pastis while observing that not only do French women not get fat, even while pregnant, but their babies are thinner! Her American-bought baby clothes are a good two inches wider than the ones from France.

Are French babies chic from birth, while American babies are doomed to obesity?

Elizabeth has been living in France (and eating and cooking like a French person) for the last seven years. Previous to being pregnant, she hadn’t gained an ounce on all that cheese and paté. Now, at the end of her pregnancy, she’s gained 20 pounds– exactly the French recommendation, in contrast to the 35 pounds considered normal by American standards.

She thinks it’s nurture – she has learned from and adapted to her environment. She writes, “If I was home in NY right now, I'm pretty sure I'd be eating Pillsbury vanilla frosting out of the can.”

The French may indeed be chic from birth, but surely this also shows we Americans can change our national fate, at least in regards to our obesity crisis. The lesson is not necessarily to eat what the French eat, but to eat how they eat – with time and forethought and care, rather than with convenience and speed and ease as our highest priorities.

It doesn’t have to be fancy; it’s more a shift of mindset. But if you care to experiment, I’m sure that Rabbit with Pastis is delicious…and that you could make it with chicken instead.

- Betsy Levine, Strategic Planner at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


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