A common complaint many of us have when it comes to working out, staying slim, or being fit is that it interferes with our lives in some way. We don’t have time, we don’t want to sacrifice good food or drinks, and we certainly don’t want to miss out on our social life. What if I told you there’s a way to stay slim, healthy and happy in your own skin without ever stepping foot in a gym or sliding your leg into yoga pants? In Europe, things are done a bit differently when it comes to health and wellness. The last time you went to Europe, did you see a gym on every corner? I doubt you saw even one. And I know for a fact you didn’t see all the women strutting their stuff on the street in active wear, God forbid. Here’s what they do instead:
1. Walk everywhere
From the bed to the car to the office chair and back again is the route many of us take in our daily commutes. But what about the French? Beautiful architecture, well-designed streets and public transportation all mean one thing for the French: walk everywhere. Walking burns calories, improves mood, and, has been found to trigger an anti-aging process and even help repair old DNA (1). Yes, walking can help you be slim and age better, too. Win-win for the timeless French.
2. Drink wine
Whether the old French cliché “water is for ducks” holds any, well, “water” or not, is definitely in question considering those slim and healthy in France surely include a lot of water in their diet. However, it still illustrates the point that wine is a part of the French diet, and the health benefits of wine are worth noting. Wine promotes “gracious living” as one French woman put it for bonappetite.com. French wine containers the positive health and anti-aging benefits of Resveratrol which has been long discussed. It also is high in antioxidants, polyphenols and procyanidin and flavonoids which all help with fat solubility and a healthy heart (2). Too much wine, though, as we know can be damaging. Moderation is key, and no more than one glass per day is a good rule to follow.
3. Don’t deprive yourself: eat small portion sizes
Delicious food and wine are an integral aspect of the French culture. To tell you that the secret to staying healthy and slim is to starve yourselves is not something you will hear much from the French. To the standards of America and many other “large portion size” countries, however, it may seem like you are starving yourself when you see the tiny bit of food on your plate at a French restaurant. There’s a certain appreciation for cuisine, whereby the French cook and consume with intention, savor every bite and flavor and quit eating when they are satisfied. Many of us with busy schedules shove things quickly into our mouth on our way to the office, or even the gym. In French culture, eating is a social gathering. Sitting down to enjoy good food with good company allows you to feel satisfied and not feel the need to over eat. Try to practice the habit of gaining enjoyment out of the food, drink, and company you are in, and you may find your eating habits change and the need for so much food decrease.