Delicious bakeries on every corner, every third person carrying one or two baguettes under their arm, great wine and cheeses everywhere… Yet, rarely do you see an overweight person in France…
With over 70% of Americans being classified as overweight, this begs the question…
Why don’t the French get as fat as Americans?
I’ll be completely honest, being in France shocked me when I saw what most people were eating… They consume a ton of bread, lots of pastries with their coffee, and drink lots of wine (with cheese!).
This looks like it would be a recipe for disaster, yet, as was said… Rarely do you see an overweight person…
Then you take a gander anywhere in America, and every third person you come across is overweight… Even though they “eat healthy” and exercise.
According to a study done by Cornell University, researchers state that the French “use internal cues, such as no longer feeling hungry, to stop eating.”
Americans on the other hand “use external cues, such as whether their plate is clean, they have run out of their beverage, or the show they are watching is over.”
Senior author Brian Wansink puts it this way: “We have found that the heavier a person is — French or American — the more they rely on external cues to tell them to stop eating and the less they rely on whether they felt full.”
This is saying that instead of listening to your body when it tells you to stop eating, many people won’t stop until their plate is clean or until the bag of chips is fully gone or until they finish their 3rd diet coke.
Many people have conditioned themselves to think this way so no matter if they feel full or not, they will just continue eating.
On top of the internal and external cues that the French and Americans rely on, there is another interesting study that took place to determine portion sizes in France compared to the US.
Researchers sent teams to Paris, France and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to weigh out portion sizes at different restaurants.
At each place the researchers went to, they would pull out their food scales and weight the typical portion size.
After dozens of restaurants, it was time to analyze the results… The study states:
“Across all the restaurants studied, American servings were about 25 percent larger. Even identical chain restaurants, which place a high value on standardization, differed between cities. Compare a McDonald’s or Pizza Hut in Philadelphia with one in Paris, and you’ll find the Philadelphian servings to be about 1.3 times larger. A large soda is not as large in Paris (530g) as it is in Philly (545g); a medium serving of French fries is 90g in the French capital, 155g in Philadelphia.
It doesn’t stop there though…
Larger portions in America are everywhere… Prepared food in supermarkets is 1.4 times larger than in French supermarkets. American cookbooks tend to up serving size by 0.25 over French cookbooks.
While traveling, I have had the pleasure of meeting many different people from around the world… And those travelers who have been to America, all said the same thing:
“You eat a lot of food.”
We had an overweight gentleman from Portugal absolutely rip on the food in America telling us that it was the biggest portion sizes he had ever seen when on his last visit… Granted, he did go to Texas where they are known for their large portions, but still…
We have heard it over and over… “Americans love to eat…”
Americans live out the term “Supersize Me” while the French (and most other cultures) do not.
One thing I have noticed in France, is that they really respect and find pleasure in food. They don’t just eat to eat… They ENJOY. They savor each bite. Food is an experience.
If you can grasp that concept, I can promise that you will start getting leaner.
What it all comes back to is the internal versus the external cues… Listen to your body.
Eat when you are hungry and until you are satisfied… NOT when your plate is clean or when the bag of chips is completed…
Enjoy the foods you eat, let them satisfy your body, and enjoy life.
Until next time,
P.S. For more drop-dead-straight-up-TRUTH about nutrition, go check out this article HERE! <==
Very interesting and this makes a LOT of sense. I remember as a kid being taught to always eat everything on my plate. Probably not the best thing to be teaching kids…looking back on it now. And as someone who moved to Texas from the Midwest, I can confirm that these folks in TX eat more than anyone I have ever met in my life. And there are restaurants everywhere. Not sure that people here even fix meals at home!
Dennis, all the fancy studies that have been made, they all miss the obvious and so does this article. THEY MOVE! Did you see any pople order bread or wine from a drive up window? Europeans naturally have a healthier lifestyle and tend to walk or bike nearly everywhere as gas prices are extremely high and the car is not a big part of their lives, as it is here. One also needs to look at the quality of food they eat verses the junk we eat. Yes, they do have better portion control than we do but then they go and burn it off!