Eat like the French for Health and Happiness
Food is important in France; yes, French people still enjoy junk food on occasion, but on the whole, there is more of an emphasis on family meals and high-quality produce. It's this European influence which is evident when you visit farmer's markets and organic markets across the UK, yet we still have some way to go before we learn to look at food the way they do across the channel!
It's rare that French people carry out all their food shopping in one supermarket. Even in major cities like Paris, little bakeries (boulangeries), butchers and greengrocers are thriving. The French love a bargain, but they are always prepared to pay more for fresh, high-quality ingredients. There are ways you can shop and eat like our Gallic neighbours, to enjoy a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Spread out your shopping
If you're lucky enough to live near independent shops such as a bakers or butchers, give them your trade on a regular basis. Support local food markets; buy free-range eggs and fresh milk from local farms, or try pick-your-own fruit in the summer months. Spending less time at the supermarket and more time choosing individual, high-quality ingredients at independent shops means you're putting more thought into what you are actually buying and where it comes from. You're less likely to just pick up something because it's on a 3-for-2 offer.
Eat well, snack less
In France, children tend to snack less frequently and although the after-school snack (gouter) is still popular, snacks are generally fairly healthy, such as apple sauce, fruit or a pain au chocolat. As a result, by the time mealtimes roll around, plates are cleaned and vegetables generally eaten, as everyone is hungry.
Take your time over dinner
When you're not snacking, you can afford to eat well at your main meal of the day. Lunch in France is the main meal of the day, with dinner generally a lighter affair, although this is not true in major cities, where people often work longer hours. Usually, you'll be served two, sometimes three courses at lunchtime, with plenty of vegetables and fruit. For dinner, simple dishes such as omelette, soups, pasta or salads are common. Lighter dining in the evening means you will enjoy a better night's sleep.
Enjoy your food
If there is one sure-fire way to eat like the French do, this is it. Just a glance in the window of a Parisian patisserie will tell you one thing – French people love great food! This doesn't always mean that they overindulge though; a little of what you fancy is key here. Eating in France is always a pleasure, not something to feel guilty about.
Cooking delicious, healthy meals for the whole family from scratch, such as roast chicken, steamed green beans and sweet potato wedges, creates time to relax together and enjoy your food. At mealtimes, food is often the topic of conversation, with children learning about where ingredients come from and how dishes are made.
Taking the Gallic approach to shopping for food and dining can help us all to be more relaxed about food – eating healthily is still key, but the focus is on purchasing high-quality ingredients and enjoying your food, rather than feeling guilty about every single calorie you consume. Moderation and plenty of fresh produce is the key!