The French Paradox Says Eat the Butter

There is a saying that goes like this: “Don’t believe anything you read and half of what you see.”

O.K., now what?

In the diet world, that is all we have. We should believe what we read because we see that diet ‘x’ worked for someone. It is right there in black-and-white. The print says you will lose weight in three months, a month or 10 days. How crazy is that? Some books claim that diet (enter some quick fix slogan here) makes you healthier. Then I read that eggs are bad, then they are good, now just the yolks are bad and so on. This is confusing for Americans–hell, for people in general.

Obviously, I take what I read with a grain of salt. I need proof, which means that I resort to use empirical evidence. A first hand count of what works, why and for whom.

The French Paradox.

Let’s look at the French diet. They drink wine at lunch and dinner, eat butter and full fat milk and cheeses. The sauces are rich and their consumption of desserts are fabled. Even their use of more saturated fats are enough to make an American doctor have a heart attack. Nevertheless, their obesity rate and percentages of heart disease are lower than ours. This is often referred to as the French Paradox, which has annoyed many American nutritionists.

There are many books that have covered how the French eat. People, myself included, that read and follow this method of eating and living their lives claim that it works.

I am not discrediting the American viewpoint on health…mostly.

I agree with what the FDA and other official sources claim on one thing: that we should be more active and eat better food (See FDA Consumer magazine, “Eat for a Healthy Heart”). By doing this we should be healthier and lose weight. However, this doesn’t seem to be working well as an American slogan of good health.

Maybe we should stay away from processed foods, eat smaller portions, and take longer to eat at meal times? Not just the food. Let’s say we start eating butter whenever we like, cooking more of our own food, drinking wine, and consuming whole milk, cream and cheeses, yet we are still gaining weight–or staying the same. What now? I’ve been trying to lose weight with the French Paradox for years. You could say that the French diet is not working and the ‘paradox’ is a bunch of hooey.

Or is it?

Having eaten well, and whatever I wanted (with the caveat of not eating processed or fast food…sometimes) over the past 9 years I have lost some weight when I really tried to change portions and be more active.  It was very hard but it is proof enough for me that first, I can believe some of what I read. Second, that eating full fat foods and desserts will not necessarily make me gain weight. So why can’t I use this method to be at a weight I want to be at?

I believe that it’s not just the food, it’s lifestyle. How can I change the way I live? I could read about different lifestyles and try to make a change. As far as the French Paradox is concerned, I know what it takes; eat slower, eat less, relax, go for a walk now and then, et cetera.

It’ll be easy, right?!

I haven’t been able to overcome my inertia and actually change my lifestyle for years now, what makes me think I’ll do it now?  I’m too busy, right? Maybe I can change my lifestyle by changing my surroundings? You might be starting to see the idea I’m putting forth: learning by living the example.



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