What Is It?
The French Women Don’t Get Fat Diet is based on eating high-quality foods in moderate portions. The creator, Mireille Guiliano, claims that French women don't diet, and they don’t count calories, or skip meals. Instead, they develop a balanced relationship with food. This balanced relationship is what Guiliano calls a "French zen."
The diet focuses on eating a well-balanced group of foods including lean meats, fresh fruit, vegetables, breads, olive oil, and plenty of water. Anything goes, in moderation — even foods typically banned from diets, like chocolate and wine. This isn’t a diet about counting calories or cutting foods. It’s about savoring what you eat and feeding your body what it needs to stay healthy.
Portion control is the key to this diet. Guiliano suggests that eating slowly will help you to feel satisfied with smaller portions of food. French women eat with all five senses, allowing them to eat less because they are paying attention and savoring the taste of the food. Portion sizes in America are out of control, Guiliano says. If you compare the size of a croissant in France to one in the United States, it becomes immediately clear why French women can typically eat pastry for breakfast and stay in shape, while American women can’t. According to Guiliano, Americans need to prioritize quality over quantity and learn to slow down to really appreciate food.
Another essential aspect of the diet is taking in lots of liquids by drinking plenty of water every day, and drinking herbal tea and eating soup regularly.
Although not mandatory, Guiliano also promotes a “magical” leek soup as part of her diet plan. This soup is supposed to be made and consumed as part of a kick-off weekend — basically, a detox meant to reset your body and dietary cravings. The soup consists of 2 pounds of leeks, enough water to cover them, and little else. It is meant to be consumed one cup at a time, every three hours, for all of Saturday until dinner on Sunday.
- The diet aims to improve your relationship with food, which will have long-lasting effects.
- The leek soup detox weekend is not a particularly healthy move.
Guiliano claims that a Mediterranean-influenced diet and a balanced relationship with food will lead to a healthy weight and lifestyle. This isn’t a quick-fix weight loss plan; it’s a lifestyle change that Guiliano describes as a "proper recasting, resetting of your body's dials, [and] a three-month affair.”
Guiliano’s plan promises that you’ll be able to trim down without having to give up on all the finer (and more decadent) things in life.
Pros and Cons
The French Women Don’t Get Fat Diet is a healthy approach to weight loss, which aims to get rid of the guilt so often associated with food and replace it with a healthy relationship to foods. Part of what’s great about this diet is that it promotes eating high-quality foods — and really enjoying them. Guiliano wants to make eating a special time. She asks readers to turn off the television, sit at a table, and pay attention to what they’re eating.
There’s nothing completely banned from the French Women Don’t Get Fat Diet, except for processed foods. Anything fresh is fine — even chocolate, pastries, and baguettes — as long as it’s consumed in moderation.
The flip side is that this diet may be difficult for those without a lot of time and money. Sitting down to a slow, relaxing meal is a luxury that many people with busy lives simply don’t have. In addition, getting fresh, high-quality ingredients isn’t easy. They can be harder to find and more costly to purchase.
For those considering the magical leek soup detox weekend, they should know that this is not a particularly healthy move. This soup lacks in nutritional value and, while the weekend may result in weight loss, it will likely only result in a loss of water weight. Some people feel great after detoxes but this is likely because these plans help them avoid processed foods, unhealthy fats, and added sugars — a feat that can be achieved in other (more nutritious) ways. It’s also important to note that people are advised to take it easy during their leek weekend, which suggests it’s not giving your body the proper fuel for daily activities.
On the French Women Don’t Get Fat Diet website, there is a message board where people discuss their leek soup weekend. Many report positive experiences with the weekend, saying it curbed their cravings and helped them focus on their food. Many others, however, said it left them feeling extremely hungry and chose not to maintain this detox for the whole weekend.
This is a well-balanced diet that promotes quality over quantity. Guiliano is passionate about fresh ingredients and celebrates the enjoyment of food. There’s no calorie counting or regimented rules on this diet, which helps to make this a realistic, long-term weight loss strategy. The emphasis on taking in enough water is also great, as many adults do not drink enough fluids every day.
One of the biggest downsides of this diet is the leek soup weekend, which is not mandatory. While there’s nothing wrong with trying out some leek soup to see if you’d like to add this vegetable dish to your healthy repertoire, we do not recommend an entire weekend of it. If you do want to try this detox, consider speaking with your doctor about it first, especially if you struggle with blood sugar management.
While Guiliano does promote healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables, she places more emphasis on the importance of taste and appreciation of food. Guiliano suggests eating fruits and vegetables that are in season and more flavorful than those that are not. Eating a piece of quality chocolate as opposed to a run-of-the-mill candy bar is a tastier and healthier choice every time. We couldn’t agree more! Again, however, this can be a more costly and time-consuming way to eat than some people can reasonably afford.
According to Guiliano, the key to successfully losing and maintaining a healthy weight is eating smaller portions of high-quality foods. She doesn’t believe it’s necessary to work out at the gym in order to achieve a healthy weight. She writes that French women don't like the gym, and get their exercise by walking everywhere.
Don’t stop your workout sessions at the gym yet! The typical American lifestyle is not one that includes enough daily walking, so additional exercise is a necessity. We agree that a run on the treadmill or a weekly spinning class won’t lead to perfect health on its own. But exercise in any form, alongside a healthy diet, is key to healthy weight loss and is definitely recommended.
You asked, we answered
- What are some other things I can do to improve my relationship with food?
Think of your hunger and satiety on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being extremely or ravenously hungry and 10 being stuffed to the brim with painful fullness. Aim to eat a snack or meal when you get to about a 3 and stop eating when you reach a 7. Satiety hits its maximum about 20 minutes after starting a meal, so eating more slowly and paying more attention to where you are on the hunger-satiety scale during your meal can help guide your eating and help prevent overeating.- Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N