The French have it sorted when it comes to a nutritional balanced diet.
They are one of the healthiest countries in the world, of average weight for their height and not constantly craving food.
So what is the secret then?
Having lived in both Ireland and France, I can safely say that the differences between the eating habits are astronomical. Its absolutely unheard of in France to snack between meals. ( I should know, I got the weird looks!)
That's the big secret.
No French person will be found eating a bag of Tayto or a few bars in the middle of the day. Absolutely not!
From a very young age, children are taught these eating habits; breakfast, lunch, an after school "gouter" (which literary translates to taster!), this is usually a croissant or a pain au chocolat around 5 and an evening meal around 8 pm.
Lunch time in France is bigger that here, the meals consists of meat and veg or pasta (sometimes a glass of wine!) which is then supposed to last you until dinner.
At school, children have a canteen where substantial meals are prepared at lunchtimes. In a lot of places, schools actually send the children home for lunch. they have an hour or two off and either go home or meet their families for food in a restaurant or cafe.
It could be said that lunch is the biggest meal of the day.
Of course the French are famous for their hours-long meals at dinner time and conspicuous consumption of wine but this is not always the case.
Often in the evening, especially with young children, its a quick bite and off to bed.
Meals in France have a distinct menu that everyone pretty much follows. this ensures that all the family get all the nutrition they need at every meal.
There is always salad at every meal time, either before or after the main dish and then cheese (of course!) afterwards. this has been a french custom forever and I think this is what is keeping people over there so fit and healthy.
Its all about small quantities of everything basically(including alcohol)!
Because all the eating is done at mealtimes, its possible to eat pretty much anything you want and burn it off during the day.
Some very good, funny, insightful books on French eating you may like:
Are you interested in learning French?
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