Eat like the French | VailDaily.com

Eat like the French

Laura A. Ball

VAIL – If you eat fat, you feel fuller longer. If you feel fuller longer, you eat less. If you eat less, you weigh less.Such are the habits of the French, who don’t deny themselves creams, cheeses, butters, breads, wines and chocolates.Madame Cliqout (“Why French Women Don’t Get Fat”) wasn’t the first to point out the elite habits of the French that ultimately make them superior and more importantly, skinnier.When Dr. Will Clower moved to France to study neuroscience, he was intrigued by the cultural habits of the French. Not only were they skinnier. They had healthier hearts and they lived longer. Skinny’s just a bonus. Inspired by his observations, Clower wrote “The Fat Fallacy” and developed The Path to Wellness, a lifestyle curriculum that incorporates healthy Mediterranean habits. It’s not a fad or a theory. It doesn’t involve fast food or low-fat food. It doesn’t condemn carbs or claim that fat is evil. “You’re not depriving yourself of anything that you want to eat,” says Susan Slater, vice president of nursing at Vail Valley Medical Center. “If you want dessert, have dessert. You just have to decide how much dessert you’re going to eat.”Slater read “The Fat Fallacy” to help her lose weight. When she received an e-mail at work that Amy Young, a nutritionist at the hospital, would be instructing an 8-week course based on the Path, Slater immediately signed on. As many Americans battle with finding balance eating, what Slater found was a whole new way of looking at food – the French way.The first thing Young has her students do is go through their pantry and eliminate “faux foods,” processed food laden with chemicals and preservatives, the only form of nourishment the Path restricts. You can tell a faux food, Young said, if it can sit on your shelf for weeks without spoiling. For instance, Slater now buys baguettes when buying bread because they stale quickly. “I was the low-fat freak. Everything was low-fat. Yogurt was low-fat. Milk was low fat. If I bought cookies they were low-fat. I would buy low-fat crackers,” she says. “Now, I’ve eliminated low-fat foods from my diet because low-fat foods make you hungry. You can’t even find low-fat foods in France.”She now drinks whole milk instead of 1 percent, regular peanut butter, regular yogurt.”You eat like you did when you were a kid before you worried about keeping the weight off,” she says. “If you liked whole milk that’s what your mother bought you. My mother did. I remember when skim milk came out and I thought, this is disgusting. I didn’t want it.”Slater said she no longer gets the urge to go down to the cafeteria and have a second lunch mid-way through the afternoon. She eats the hospital’s delicious fried chicken, she just leaves a little on her plate, something her mother taught her never to do. “Amy gave me permission not to finish everything on my plate,” Slater says.Young said we’re so used to cleaning our plates that what’s on our plates dictates how much we eat rather than when we feel full. She also teaches students to eat slower, take 15 minutes to eat a meal. Put your fork down between bites and eat smaller bites. Young says there’s a 15-minute lag time between your stomach and your brain when your brain tells you you’re full.She’s even relinquished her sweet tooth, drinking iced tea instead of soda. And every night after dinner, Slater eats a small piece of brie cheese, what the Path calls an “ender,” a little bit of fat in your stomach to leave you feeling satisfied.Slater has taken the advice to heart. Since ending the course in June, she has lost 15 pounds. Her relationship with food is not all-consuming. She even has more energy. “It’s not a diet plan,” she says. “It’s a plan for the rest of your life. Nobody in the class didn’t like the way that she had us eating. The people I took the course with, we’re still eating that way.” Young says weight loss isn’t as hard as weight management. Diets don’t work, she says, because people embody a new set of principles that get thrown out the window once they lose the weight and go back to old habits that caused the weight gain in the first place. The Path is a lifestyle.”A big part of this program is embracing the idea of change,” Young says. “It’s not something that changes over night. Habits are just what we’re used to doing on a daily basis. To instill a new habit into your life you embrace the idea of it and then you put it into action and then after a while it starts to become a habit, but it takes time.”On the Path – Go through your pantry and get rid of “faux foods,” processed foods laden with preservatives and chemicals such as partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup.- Eat three meals a day- Eat smaller portions and on smaller plates, plan go back for seconds- Eat slowly.Take at least 15 minutes to eat a meal. Read a book or a magazine if you have to. Occupy yourself so that you’re not just focused on the food.- Put your fork down in between bites.- Try to leave something on your plate.- Don’t put anything in your mouth that’s bigger than the tops of your two thumbs.- End the meal with a little bit of fat, called an “ender” in the Path. A little piece of cheese or chocolate or ice cream, something with fat because fat stays in your stomach the longest telling you you’re full- Meditate to lower cortisol levels so you’re not eating because of stress. Pick the same time every day. You can do it anywhere- Exercise, do something you loveDiscover the PathThe French Diet Secrets for Permanent Weight Loss8-week course begins Tuesday at 6 p.m.Brush Creek Pavilion, Eagle RanchCall 479-5058 or e-mail young@vvmc.comStaff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado