Wellness: Eat the damn bread...[how French women bullied me into becoming healthier]
EAT THE DAMN BREAD... A STORY OF A 'DEPRIVED' AMERICAN ON HOLIDAY, BULLIED INTO LIVING HER BEST LIFE.
Today I am going to tell you a story, of intrigue, international suspicion and American deprivation…Ha! Doesn’t that sound like a sound bite to a CNN special report!?! Really today I’m talking about nutritional deprivation but not in the way you may think.
Now, this series, Eat the Damn Bread, is the place to be to get your life and health on track, effortlessly! This is the series where I answer your health and wellness questions, address common misconceptions around nutrition and help you make informed decisions in order to live and curate a lifestyle of health, one that you absolutely love. (So, if you have a question you would like answered put it in the comments below!)
Now, today’s story is all about a “deprived” American on holiday…I say holiday because it sounds fancy, but really, it was vacation. And this story is about how that deprived American on vacation (spoiler, that’s me!) was bullied into living her best life!
I want you to know that French women…they are bullies...in the most perfect sense, of course! Anyone who knows me knows that I am a complete Francophile and could really never speak ill of the French…But I do I want you to know that The French bullied me into becoming a healthier version of myself and I love them for it! Now, just so we are speaking the same language, I wanted to make sure we were on the same page, now, according to my extensive research...via, Google (!), bully is defined as: a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
So let’s be honest with each other…if you have ever been to France, particularly Paris, you know that the French are a people who walk around with an air of refinement and have perfected the power stance and stare, which can make you feel the weaker, all mental, of course....which, in my book, is totally bullying of the worse kind….mental bullying that is...it is only until you too find your “French” alter ego and get with the program!
Let me tell you something about these people, the French...They make you step up your game in every aspect of life; your walk, your conversation...fashion… So let me tell you, this is not a really a story of the damsel in distress, I will say that I am so happy that I fell to the “bullying” of the French during my travels and I do not regret it one bit. Why? Because instead of reverting to my American ways while out and about, I decided to take on the French way of life and have not looked back!
Über to the grocery store 10 blocks away? No thanks, I will walk…
Pre-packaged food? Ha! Not a chance! Tapenade and tartare for me!
And...let’s talk bread…that bread that tempts you from every corner Boulangier, to the baguettes you spy that peer out of the bags of the millennials walking home from work, oh, and the bread basket that stares at you, just calling your name and awaiting your touch as you await your waiter’s return well…yes, I will have some!
Now, I am sure you are looking at your screen like, what? But yes, I said it...Eat the damn bread!
Why, you ask? Isn’t it obvious? That is what the French would do.
Let me fill you in on a little fact...The thing about these beautiful people and their culture is that they do not deprive themselves of the daily pleasures of life and because of that, they are happy healthy and vibrant!
Even if it is JUST bread, the point to note is that they enjoy to the fullest what we Americans stray from with every fiber of our being, for fear of carb overload in this case! But it is not just the bread, it is the way of life and their approach to such that I believe keeps them healthy, loving life and fitting into their skinny jeans.
And I mean what other reason do you need to totally obsess over them? Let me tell you, I have a few pair of designer jeans that are calling my name from the depths of my dressing room. And let me be the FIRST to say that if the French way of life can help me get back into those bad boys, Especially if it means that I can indulge in a glass of wine, or two, I’m here for it!
So, this is why I say with pride, French people bullied me to becoming healthy. Because I was able to see there way of life and how they approach nutrition as a compliment not the main event....
At the conclusion of every trip I have taken to France I left coming back to the states wanting to feel the way I felt while I attempted to blend in while in France- doing as the French, talking as the French and eating as the French...overall, enjoying life. I mean, is this any surprise? Bullying is cyclical so it’s no wonder I took on this mindset!
Now, granted, I concede that the word bully might be a little strong...it’s a word riddled with negative connotation. And to be honest maybe I was not even on their radar………. like at all! I am pretty sure this bullying thing was all in my head. But whatever the case, I left with a different outlook on life, in particular in the space of health and wellness.
Prior to my first visit, no matter how many books for the Francophile I read, I could not figure out (or even believe) how they could eat baguettes every couple of days AND drink bottles of wine AND keep their thin figures all while making it look effortless, and you know, I love me some effortless health!
It was a conundrum to me until a visit to Cognac, France. This is where I learned that I had been living a life of true deprivation. A deprived American? Who could have imagined???
As I took in the culture and visited with locals it was evident to me a few things. Now here, here is where you get you pen and paper out to take note! If you really want to get a hold on this health and wellness thing and understand how to do it, as I say, effortlessly…here are the three things you need to understand. The three things that the French get right and Americans get wrong….
1] Enjoying the experience
Look, Americans do not really know how to enjoy a meal. We are so busy, never stopping and to really never get anywhere... Mindful eating is so important, not only for enjoyment, but digestion as well. Many of us have never been taught the art of actually enjoying and appreciating a meal. We are always rushing to the next experience without actually enjoying the experience that we are engaged in at the time. In France, going out for dinner and movies is not happening. Not because they are not into the theater, but because eating is an event in itself. It is its own experience that is savored from start to finish.
Dinners can last for 5-6 hours and are enjoyed, not just eaten. Eating in this way allows for true enjoyment and appreciation of not just the food but the company that you are with. This is something I definitely understood this after visiting Rémy Martin in Cognac, France. Having the distinguished pleasure of a private tour of all the grounds, in addition to a private lunch prepared by Chef Phillipe Saint-Romas, Rémy Martin's Executive Chef. This is where I realized that I was simply…American and all that encompassed, including our lack of appreciation for just about anything of true culture. (Yes, I said it!) Every course was well prepared and designed not only to excite your taste buds but for it to be enjoyed by all of your senses. Absolutely exquisite! Ever since this meal, the way I approach my plate is totally different. I consciously appreciate and have reverence for the food and the chef with each bite, and as a result I always leave more nourished than I was at the start.
2] Be discerning
Americans ‘more is more’ mentality is actually hurting us.
In France quality of food trumps quantity any day. It is not about how much you can hold on your plate or the amount of leftovers you can nibble on to no end...It’s the quality of the food that is of true importance. Though we are getting a bit better in the states, some areas are still hard pressed to find local and fresh produce that is easily accessible both distance-wise and monetarily. This leaves many Americans to “go for what they know,” fast-food and pre-packaged meals, which the latter should really just disappear. The French are concerned with scoring the cheapest food they can in order to fuel their gluttony, as we american do with our concienve foods and constant access to foods served through a window at any time of day or night...which brings me to point three...
3] Americans have too much access
Everything is easily accessible to us here in the states so there is never any down time or time away from anything!
In France an entire town will shut down for lunch, and instead of morning rush hour you will have rush hour at lunchtime with everyone trekking home for the two hour or more break. With this schedule it means that you cannot just pop into a restaurant and “grab something quick.” Restaurants have set hours that are predicated upon this break time. With this system in place you can not just mindlessly eat. You have to be strategic in the way in which you go aboutplanning your meals and lunch. The French do this perfectly, of course....
There it is...the three things that set the French apart with their approach to nutrition. I believe that if we as Americans can start taking a look, specifically at the three things I just discussed, and implement them, the change that comes with those mindset shifts alone will put you on a path to better health!
So, I ask you…are you going to eat the damn bread?
Please learn from my "bullying" , or 'ah-ha' experience whichever you call it...and do not continue to deprive yourself of the joys and pleasures of life, and be discerning about what you decide to put into your system. Because when you truly enjoy the moment, or the plate, it puts your mind in a completely different space which allows you to enjoy your food and your body will thank you for it... This does not matter if you are eating a 5 course meal or sipping a matcha tea. You will see the benefits.
This state of mind and lack of obsession with just eating whatever, whenever is what allows the French to hit the trifecta: health, fulfillment and no need for major alterations on clothes!
The ultimate lesson I truly learned... moderation in all facets of life is the key to health, not deprivation.
Okay, so, can you do me a solid… ask yourself, have you reached your health goals? If not, why?Be honest and really think, have you been fighting against yourself and depriving your body and mind of what it really needs?
Tell me below your thoughts on which of the three American “traits” you are most guilty of when it comes to your own approach to food! I would love to hear your answers and your thoughts on my observations! Comment below and let me know what you think!
To your health