Paradox Found? French success on this side of the Atlantic |

Paradox Found? French success on this side of the Atlantic

EAGLE COUNTY – Has someone just solved the famed “French Paradox?” First articulated in the 1970s by Dr. Serge Renaud, the French Paradox is the idea that the French can flaunt our nutrition rules, without suffering from obesity or heart disease. In fact, their famous love affair with full fat cheeses, chocolates and “empty alcohol calories” in their wine has left them healthier than any country in Europe, according to the International Obesity Task Force. Americans, meanwhile, just scratch their heads, accept that the French Paradox is real and somehow doesn’t apply to them. But Dr. Will Clower, author of “The Fat Fallacy and The French Don’t Diet (Crown 2006),” now has evidence showing that even Americans can get the French results, right here at home. Clower’s eight-week program, called The PATH Curriculum, was offered to the hospital staff at the Vail Valley Medical Center earlier this summer. By coaching them to eat wonderfully rich foods, but to do so with the careful French eating habits, the PATH Curriculum was able to produce an average drop in total cholesterol of 13.3 mg/dL just two weeks after completion of the program. And, like those skinny French, a full 75 percent of participants in this preliminary study lost weight, averaging a 4-pound loss through the program. “What makes this program completely different from other conventional approaches,” said Clower, “is that we use the success of another culture, in this case the French, as a model. We know it works because they have low weight, healthy hearts and live longer lives.” Clower’s mantra? “Do what they do, and you’ll get their results.” Fair enough, but what are they doing? Participants in The PATH Curriculum are first required to give up “Faux Foods” – processed food products and sodas laden with chemicals and preservatives. Then they are coached for three weeks on the healthy eating habits that limit between meal snacking and control portion sizes. Finally, they learn daily activities and techniques to prevent stress-induced over-consumption. Whether or not Clower has solved the French Paradox for Americans, his program is gaining traction as a popular corporate wellness initiative and as a for-credit course at the university level. The Vail Valley Medical Center will be offering the entire class series this fall in Edwards at the Shaw Regional Cancer Center on Wednesdays starting today at 10 a.m. and in Eagle at the Arts and Crafts Building starting at 6 p.m. For more information on The PATH Curriculum, contact Amy E. Young by e-mail at or by phone at 479-5058. On the right PATHPATH Curriculum nutrition seriesStarting today for eight weeksFor more information, call Amy Young at 479-5058To eat like the French:1. Slow down. Eating too fast makes you eat too much. The signal from the stomach to the brain takes 20 minutes. Slowing down lets your brain hear when you body is satisfied, before becoming stuffed.2. Size matters. Take smaller bites. Taste buds are only on the surface of your tongue. If your mouth is crammed with food, you won’t even taste it.3. Focus on your food. Eating in front of the TV or in the car makes your food unimportant. This lack of attention encourages mindless overeating.4. Put your fork down. If you have food in your mouth, set your fork down. You will love your food more if you eat it one bite at a time.5. Serve your food on smaller plates. This solves two problems at once: the clean-your-plate problem and the fact that your eyes are always bigger than your stomach. 6. Fat-free foods make you overweight. Fat-free foods don’t satisfy and contain tons more additive sugars. This leaves you hungry, grazing on sugary foods.7. If it ain’t food, don’t eat it. Our bodies know what to do with real food: meats, fruits, vegetables. Creamers, neon things and colas are inventions that cause a host of weight and health problems.8. Eat in courses when you can. Have your salad first. Then serve the main. This helps lengthen the eating time at the table and prevents you from eating too much too fast.9. Have a normal level of fat in your diet. Your body and brain needs fat to be healthy and are unsatisfied until they get it. You get a normal level of fat when you eat normal foods – like butter, olive oil, eggs, nuts and cheese.10. High quality foods lead to low quantity eating. Quality and quantity are buckets in a well. Rich high-quality foods leave you satisfied without being stuffed on tons of food! This makes the amount you eat self-limiting and … prevents snacking through the day. To eat like Americans:1. Get on with your life. Finish your meal as fast as possible. Remember, your goal is to get back to work. Gobble it down in 10 minutes. By the way, eat at your desk, alone, doing your job as you eat.2. Size matters, and bigger is better. Go ahead and fill your mouth with food. This helps you to eat faster and then you don’t have to taste it. 3. Eat in distracting situations. Whenever possible, eat under distracting conditions — in the car, on your feet, while watching TV – so you become unaware of the quality of your food. 4. Have your next bite at the ready. As an American eater, you want food poised to go into your mouth at every second! Whether eating with fork or fingers, have the next oversized bite in your fork or hand, even while food still brims in your mouth. 5. Break out the platters for dinner. Demonstrate your bounty by serving meals on the largest plate you have, and make sure to completely fill the space.6. Be a fat-phobe. Avoid anything with oils or fats. Use the lowest fat dairy possible. No olives, no real cheese, no crème fraiche, no eggs. Eat substitute food products whenever you can.7. Look for plastic wrappers. Go for maximum convenience. If it is found in a pre-packaged form, eat it. If you have no idea how long it has been on a shelf, eat it. Be sure to keep these in your car to have them as you drive.8. Serve single-plate meals. When you do have a meal, eat all your food from one large plate. Eating in courses takes far too long and distracts you from the importance of getting back to your job.9. Eat as often as possible. Your sugary foods (drink soda at every opportunity) encourage you to eat all the time. Just go with it. Grazing, eating six meals per day, keeping snack foods in your desk – even in your purse – is encouraged.10. Low fat eating means you can have all you want. When you cut the fat, you are hungry for more. Don’t worry. Just keep eating. You simply need to believe that low fat eating allows you to safely eat as much as you possibly can, without gaining weight. Good luck. Vail, Colorado

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