16 Eating Habits the French Cultivate

One step forward, two steps back. Here are some quick tips to eating healthier if you're feeling low.

No matter what stage you’re at in the French lifestyle, it’s always good practice to review the basic principles of recasting:

1. Look at your three-week profile of eating; identify and reduce the offenders as much as you can without inducing shock. Whatever you can cut out completely without agony, just cut it. Reduce others peu à peu (little by little).

2. Eat at regular times.

3. Look at portions of non-offender foods, trim these gradually too.

4. Get to know the market, not the supermarket. Shop for food several times a week (on a need-to-eat basis, but never when hungry).

5. Diversify your foods with an eye to seasons. Increase the proportion of fresh fruits and vegetables.

6. Introduce and experiment with a couple of new flavors.

7. Prepare your own meals. Shun prepared foods, especially processed ones with artificial anything.

8. Have a real breakfast.

9. Eat slowly, sitting down. Chew well, even if you seem theatrical at first.

10. Introduce 2 daily servings of homemade yogurt as a dessert, breakfast or snack food.

11. Drink at least two more glasses of water per day, slipping in more as you find opportunity.

12. Introduce a small but regular new physical movement, like a daily walk or climbing stairs. (If you go to a gym, you’re probably doing enough in spandex, so pick something you can do in street clothes.)

13. Don’t stock offenders at home.

14. Develop a list and stock of food pacifiers, substitutes for offenders.

15. Keep your “en cas” in your pocket for off-site emergencies.

16. Choose and enjoy your weekend rewards.

As I say, this is not radical. But to those who are first encountering these principles, the steps may still seem a little abstract at this point (the tendency toward abstraction is admittedly a French weakness.) With a little bit of practice, however, recasting easily can become second nature.