Why are French women so thin & the food so good?… | “Parisian chic” | Justine Leconte

Why are French women so thin & the food so good?… | “Parisian chic” | Justine Leconte

Hi, everyone it’s Justine. This video has nothing to do with fashion, but it has to do with my culture, and it’s a topic you guys asked for, so it’s now part of the French series as well. The title of the video is composed of two different things. The first part is something I often hear since I live outside of France: that french women are so thin, supposedly. And the other half: food is good is what I think the reason for that is. The food is really good quality-wise. In this video I want to give you my opinion on the whole French diet thing. It’s a quick and easy video. It’s my subjective opinion on that, having been born and raised in France, but I’m also comparing with other countries I’ve been studying working or living in. Let’s just say this video is food for thought. First the overall diet. We eat lots of fruits and vegetables in France. It can be cooked, it can be raw, it can be in a juice or smoothie, it doesn’t matter. But people say 12 per day is a good benchmark, a good number to make sure you get various sources of vitamins every day. We like and eat soup, vegetable soup, preferably homemade, a lot. Your grandmother, if you’re french, probably told you you have to eat your soup to make sure you grow healthy and strong. And people who complain they are too small for something will probably get the answer: “Aha! Didn’t eat enough soup when you were little, did you?” We cook at home regularly ourselves. The preparation of the food is part of the process and of the pleasure later. In my house we didn’t eat anything that came in a can. Except corn for some reason, because corn is a pain to cook. We didn’t own a microwave oven because we never basically heated pre-prepared frozen food, or stuff like that. We made everything fresh every day. We go grocery shopping every couple of days for the next couple of days only. We don’t stock up on things. Because when you buy meat, milk, or vegetables that are really fresh, they don’t last longer than that anyways, and when people can, they really go to farmers markets every week to buy the freshest stuff they can get. We don’t eat processed foods, and French people are really allergic to anything that says “genetically modified” in the ingredients. If you read that on the label, run away. We eat sweet things like desserts, like chocolates, sweets, not as much as you’d think from all the patisseries in the movies we see everywhere in the world. But the food we buy in-store to be prepared doesn’t have any added sugar. When you buy bread in the U.S. for instance, it has sugar in it. In France, it doesn’t and that really matters because we eat bread with everything. That was about the diet and shopping for food in general. Now let’s talk about a very important point for us Frenchies. It’s called food education. French people are huge on giving children good ‘eating habits’, we call that, very early on. So balanced meals: it’s a bit of everything. No sweets. No snacking in between meals. No fizzy drinks. That’s all stuff I was never allowed to have when I was a child. On the other side I was trained to eat a bit of everything. When I was little and there was something on my plate that I didn’t like, my mom would always say, “three spoons to learn to like it.” “Trois cuillères pour apprendre à aimer.” And it works. Now I eat and like everything, and I crave fruits in winter, salad in summer. I never craved a burger. I don’t like coke. I don’t drink anything sweet, and it’s just natural to me. It is said that the diet and the kind of food you get between zero and seven years old defines your taste and your eating habits later in life. So if you get it right in those first years, so to speak, then it will be easy to stick to the healthy eating habits, rhythm, later in life. I learned really early on to have four meals per day and stick to them. Breakfast, proper breakfast not croissant. Lunch, which is the biggest meal of the day in terms of calories and time spent. Four o’clock, and dinner. I stick to those, I don’t snack in between. I also don’t need to or want to because I ate enough during those four meals. And that’s more than I need in one day anyways. I don’t drink anything sweet while I’m eating, only water. It may sound a bit strict if that’s not the diet you’re used to in your country, But if your taste is trained that way from the beginning on, and you always have that rhythm, it’s really natural. For me it’s natural. I don’t feel that I’m restricting my diet the way I eat or drink in any way. Food is a lifestyle. French women aren’t on a diet. We say “Je fais juste attention.” It means “I’m just being careful.” We know intuitively what’s healthy and what isn’t, or maybe also by food education and educated tastes, refer to my point just before. So we always try to achieve a good balanced mix on our plate for every meal. there are less vegetarians and vegans in Paris than in Berlin, by far, but we also vary our foods more. There’s also more choice in supermarkets, so we don’t really get sick of anything. We sit down to eat and enjoy meals as privileged social moments. We need to take the time for it. Everything else can wait. People will do extra hours in the evening but they will take an hour off for lunch. I get teased about that a lot because I can’t eat fast and Germans eat super fast. My friends are always almost done with their plate, and I’m still trying to recognize and appreciate the notes and the ingredients in my meal. But taking the time to eat is also medically proven to be a lot healthier because you notice when you’re getting full, so you don’t overeat, you stop when you’re full, and naturally feel happy already. And second, you chew better when you eat slower. So you’re digesting it better. So it’s really, really healthier. The way the food is presented is also crucial for us because we say 50% of the pleasure of eating goes through the mouth, it’s the taste, 50% goes through the eyes, so composition, color mix to have touches of color everywhere and not one plate that has just one color, for us is essential. Eating is a very conscious process. We drink coffee, but black. Your rent already costs you the left arm, you kind of want to keep the right one to hold that cup of coffee. A cappuccino or latte macchiato would cost 5 euros, and it tastes horrible, so we stick to black coffee or espresso. We drink it black without sugar. Meanwhile in Berlin a latte macchiato, a huge one, costs two euros fifty and it’s delicious. For a benchmark. Another lifestyle question I get really often is “What about sports?” I think French people are not super sporty, especially in Paris because people work easily ten hours per day, and they commute for another two hours on average. Up to four hours, so there’s just no time left in the day for sports really. But if you’re living and woking in Paris, you will automatically be walking kilometres through the subway network, Rrnning to catch a subway, climbing up and down stairs. There’s never any escalator. It varies, like I don’t know how people who need an escalator would survive, and you walk through the city because there are no bike lanes. Everything is too tight. There’s no space for bike lanes. So even if you don’t go to the gym, some people do, but even if you don’t, you are getting the recommended minimum 30 minutes of daily physical exercise for sure. And I think that’s the trick. Then the question about smoking. More people smoke in France than in the U.S. for example. It’s even more like that in Paris compared to the rest of the country. But is that why French women are so thin? I really don’t think so. I think that’s because they are super active daily, they work a lot, and life in Paris is very stressful. The City is so big compared to the rest of the country, that competition to get a job and then keep it is extremely high and guess what? Stress burns calories. I know, it’s not that glamorous. The French Ministry of Tourism is not going to share my video, but stress is the main calorie burner for Parisians, if you ask me. Let’s move on to a merrier topic about that daily glass of red wine. That’s a myth too. I have to be careful what I’m saying because I have not one but two uncles who are wine producers in France But not everyone drinks wine. There are people who drink and prefer beer. There are people who drink water, like me, and wine only for special occasions. White wine in summer, red wine with meat, white wine with fish, etc. But that’s another class, and I’m not qualified to teach that one. Wine is made of grapes. It’s a very healthy thing. It’s not bad for your health I think that has been medically proven, but in small quantities, reasonable quantity, and high quality, as everything else. France is a very healthy country in terms of diet. The quality of the food is very high. Food education is essential, and eating for us is really a lifestyle, I think. But it’s not the only healthy country. In Japan, where I studied one semester, people eat lots of fish. They replace salt by soy sauce, which is in fact healthier than salt, and they cook with barely any fat. In Scandinavia, people write their bikes everywhere, so they get a lot more physical exercise. All Scandinavian women I know have beautiful, well-trained legs. And I think that looks fabulous. Going on a diet is not the miracle solution people sometimes hope for. I think it’s about building healthy habits and sticking to them later, and that’s one thing that the French do really well, in my opinion. The body doesn’t like drama, it likes routine and regularity. Opinions ? Comments? Questions? Did you enjoy this video? Thumbs up? Thank you. You’ll find further episodes of the french series in the description below. Take care. Bye, bye

100 thoughts on “Why are French women so thin & the food so good?… | “Parisian chic” | Justine Leconte

  1. It's 12 fruits/veggies a day, 3 spoons of everything, 1h lunch break… and not as many croissants as you'd think 😅. Is that what you thought about the French way of eating?
    PS: no eye make-up at all in this video (because I know the question will come 😉).

  2. Almost everything is correct – except the part about stress. It is medically proven that stress causes you to gain weight – not lose it…

  3. I bought one peach from an outdoor market in Paris. It was so delicious,, really drove home to me the quality of produce there. I don't lose weight when in Paris, but my digestive system works way better. And ohhhhh…. the food is so good!!! Thanks for this video!!🙋‍♀️🌷

  4. My Armenian grandfather always told me to eat slowly and enjoy what I eat. He said that if you eat too fast you don't realize you are full and will overeat. He also ate smaller portions. I realize now how wise he was and I'm finally taking his advice!

  5. That's about what grandmas teached us in Russia and other post-soviet countries, also that breakfast = oat/buckwheat/and such, and that dinner starts with soup. Fruit as lunch, yougurt before sleep. But we don't really live like that in big cities. And one problem soviet tradition left us is very big complex meals. There used to be a culture of physically capable people, female ratio was 3000 calories with recommended hobby being alpinism or cayaking. And we still eat 5 times a day, with big complex dinner and rather heavy breakfast and supper, while being less active

  6. The best video👍👍👍👏👏👏👏💚💙💖. It is so close to my lifestyle… and Justine, I absolutely love your top (or maybe dress)🤩

  7. My mother is 5'5", my sister is 5'4" and I am 5' 3" and we ate fruits and vegetables. Height is regulated by the genes.

  8. Никогда бы не подумала что французские бабушки так похожи на русских)))) спасибо за субтитры!

  9. This is so similar to the Scandinavian way of eating. But we eat lots of vegetables and follow the year’s crops. I played sports 4 times a week after school and had to get myself to my practice and games that were within my city and I went by bike or walked (a 6 km one way). This is very common still in Scandinavia that kids have after school sports activities and walk/ride their bike there and parents rarely drive them. In London and in the States kids were driven to school/friends/after school activities.
    In Scandinavia you go alone at age 7. I still remember older ladies helping me find my way when I got lost and they were so sweet and encouraging. I’m grateful my parents raised me to be independent early on.

  10. I always thought that the races really influences, I'm latinamerican and we have more fat in comparison with e.g. germans… It seems to me that we have bigger muscles and tend to have way more fat in some areas of our bodies, that's common! Now I live in Germany and almost everybody here is naturally skinny, larger bones and musculature is larger and thin. In Chile we struggle to get in shape very early… Culturally, in Germany there is a lot of sports education, for us in Chile, not that much 🙂 So, culture definitely influences a lot!

  11. I m Greek… I enjoy Mediterranean cuisine and I prepare my meals with fresh ingredients, I don't like frozen food or junk food. Unfortunately young people are eating so much junk food nowadays. I believe food education is important as you mentioned. It s all about health.

  12. Been a smoker and not. Approx 15 pounds heavier every time I quit smoking. No difference in diet. This has been going on for over 50 years. The French attitude about food in many ways is MUCH healthier than the American way…but they finally changed the food pyramid here..thank goodness. Less meat ,less starch and more vegetables and fruits. I grew up with a mother who believed in a healthy diet and weigh almost exactly what I weighed 55 years ago when I graduated high school. Her ideas were very " french" .except she didn't spend much time in the kitchen..that I have changed..anything passing my lips needs to be flavorful, aesthetically pleasing and as fresh as garden to table as possible. I wish more people here would pay attention to this video….excellent life long advice.

  13. Putting on weight is consuming more calories than your body uses. That said, salads, fruit and vegetables (excluding Potatoes) are healthier in that they have all the nutrients, but uncooked food, or vegetables like carrots, peas etc, do not have high calorific conversion. As I understand it, some foods that you eat, are converted into calories better by your stomach than others, hence Potatoes tending to fatten, more than courgettes or Broccoli?

    Superb video.

  14. I live exactly like that..Argentine..but French grandmothers. it is important to be active all day long..not sit down and just go one hour to the gym….I walk for hours…and it is not a diet it is a way of living heaps of fruits and vegetables..mainly raw…

  15. coming from south Asia, we often put an inch layer of oil to our curries cause apparently it adds beauty to the dish. but we have bang on flavours…

  16. I agree. My twin granddaughters are 4 and they don’t have junk food or pop. They eat every kind of vegetable and foods a lot of adults don’t eat. They are not used to sweets so that’s great for them. My daughter never drank anything but water and will flavor it with fruit if she chooses. They llove tea hot or cold but never sweetened. I think it’s just what you start out on. They had homemade food. No baby food either.

  17. La plupart des français mangent trop gras, trop salé, trop sucré, trop industriel. Notre culture gastronomique est grasse et les spécialités ne sont pas saines…

  18. Why are you so against genetically modifiied organisms? A part from the fact that there's no GMO in europe, so they're not so easy to find, there hasn't been any evidence that they are bad for your health. (and no scientific explanation for that)

  19. Justine, I really appreciate your channel! You appear as so king and easygoing person, your charisma and charm make your channel so inspiring! Thank you for the inspiration.

  20. 'Germans eat super fast' wow. Okay. Lol. I went to a Dutch Camp this year and I was always the last to finish (as a German)…
    So how fast must Dutch people be eating compared to the French?

  21. This makes a lot of sense. Much better than the mostly terrible fast food and frozen prepared food we have in America.

  22. My experience with french people is a bit differnt – most put sugar in their coffee (black is true though, nothing fancy just whatever comes through the dropping machine – lol, I dont drink coffe so I dont know the proper vocab), but not only coffee they put it yoghurt which was quite surprising for me (and like a lot – two spoons for a little cup – I actually drew a pile of sugar when we had an evening about stereotypes – o rI dont know, maybe my sugar bar is so low that any amount is too much for me hahah). Breakfast – not croissant but not really healthy either – either cereals with milk (so much about the "no processed food" – I am talking here your typical chocolate or honey balls) or bread, but mostly the cereals. Might be the fact that people I encounted are not the stereotypical pariasian chic, but rather disadvanted teenagers or just normal people from smaller towns. Btw to me "french woman" impersonates rather a empowered kind of "sage femme" (if thats the right word), who doesnt give a shit about society standarts and is confident enough to be her natural self – for example not shaving.. etc. I got really inspired by that.. but that's another story..
    What I really think is the key element is as you say, the time given to appeciate food. I loved that in France and I do believe it makes a big difference 🙂

  23. Bullshit… French are cheapskate, they eat non stop if its free .Y would anyone listens to your diet looking at your horrible eye bags!

  24. Bonjour! Je suis Indienne et j'aime le culture francaise. Cette video est tres informative et je l'ai vraiment appreciee. Aysny eu des amis francais, proches et grandissant, je suis completement d'accord avec vous. Merci beaucoup!

  25. Hi Justine, I love your videos they are so informative and I want to learn more about French cuisine. You mentioned that your grandmom would make soup for your family? Please can you share the vegetable soup recipe and also few other recipes (I am vegetarian). Hope you make a video on French cuisine and what you typically eat. My daughter and I are trying to follow your tips for creating the wardrobe. Thanks for sharing 🤗

  26. Justine, how does that schedule work? I understand that you take an hour for lunch, but what do you do at 4:00? Do you leave work to eat, eat at your desk, and what do you eat then? Then what time is dinner and what do you eat for dinner if lunch is your biggest meal? How do dates work if dinner is a smaller meal and you are working at lunch?

  27. I'm French and I've lived in the US. US meat has steroids and growth hormone in it. I gained weight and muscle mass even though I wasn't doing any sport. France has regulations against that, but Americans don't even have to label such meat.

  28. Justine, I really like your videos, but you are wrong on two things here:

    1.) Stress (i.e. cortisol) does NOT burn calories, it does just the opposite. Increased stress = increased cortisol —> you pile on weight. There are proper medical studies on this, this is not a myth.

    2.) Cigarettes DO suppress appetite (again, there are proper medical studies on this) and given how many French women smoke, I am certain this significantly contributes to them being thin. I used to smoke myself, was very thin back then and I know how cigarettes affect your appetite. When I quit smoking, I put on weight very fast and so did every single smoker I know who quit smoking. It was seriously difficult to shed that extra weight without cigarettes to suppress my appetite.

  29. toi tu as grandi en ville
    quand le supermarché le plus proche est à 15 km, tu fais des réserves si. Même en cuisinant tout 🙂

  30. One of best experiences of my life was going to university in France. While all things here are true, talking to my French friends, they were very size conscious and smoked a lot. I did enjoy the fresh food buying and to this day make groceries the European way

  31. Meals in France last for days. At least that's my impression as an English person. I can't actually cope with eating 2 three course meals a day. It's just too much food and yet, the French look good on it.

  32. Hi Justine, I am binge watching your videos and am learning so much. I would love a video from you regarding what you eat in a typical day. Thanks so much!

  33. Thank you, Justine! Great video as usual. I am Lithuanian, we have very healthy food habits as well as French people do. Most of the people are growing their own vegetables, fruits and berries. We eat a lot of soups especially in winter, because we have very cold winters. Women in Lithuania really likes too cook everyday and they are very good at it. I don't remember any frozen food from my childhood, I think it did not existed at that time. We have very good and fresh milk products in Lithuania. Once I moved to Sweden I was surprised that milk can be fresh more than 3 days, which is not the case in Lithuania. I never was allergic to anything in Lithuania, but after living in Sweden I got allergies including lactose intolerance unfortunately…Sweden is still considered as a healthy lifestyle country, because people are cycling a lot, some of them everyday to work, almost everyone is working out regularly at the gym. People eat a lot of fish and seafood here, I am not sure how healthy is that nowadays because of pollution in the water. On another hand almost every person is allergic to something, they have allergies I never heard of in my life.

    I guess there are plus and minus in every country, like everyday stress and smoking in France, which leads to heart diseases and cancer. Don't let me get started on the amount of the butter intake in France… =)) I love France otherwise, I even had a French boyfriend before and still have many friends there.

  34. Hi justine greeting from Indonesia. I like your video much and totally agree about your thought about healthy eating habit

  35. I appreciate the French attitude to studying what goes in, and I appreciate the Germans attitude to studying what comes out. From a Brit. Love ya !

  36. Hm, French people drink Coke all the time and most children drink Teisseire (sugar syrup) and Nesquik (chocolate milkshake) all day long.

  37. I eat plant-based exclusively (animal rights and environmental impact) and only one meal a day. I couldn't care less about microwaves and GMO as long as it's properly nutritional and ethical. How it looks is of zero importance to me; taste and texture is king. Slimey wobbly jelly stuff is forbidden. A lot of water throughout the day and some strong black coffee. There may be some fine whisky or not quite as fine potato chips on a Friday evening.

    I don't know why I write this here because I'm not French nor a woman and it's completely uninteresting to the Internet. I'm pretty healthy and thin though, and strong enough for my manual labor. Never hungry or hangry. No workout beyond my pretty physical job because screw that.

    I do agree with routine and consistency. It may be because of my autism but I've found that everything is easier and better with patterns and repetition.

  38. I totally agree but I've heard black coffee is unhealthy, but if you add milk and sugar into it won't be that bad. Probably because black coffee is too strong for the stomach

  39. Love your videos, but genetically modified aliment's aren't bad for your health, or have dangerous chemical compunds, scientist just change some characteristics like their resistance to certain conditions like draught or plagues, or increase their nutritional value

  40. Interesting to see your personal thoughts, lovely to watch, thank you for sharing. Just to add on, stress is also a fat storer for some people. When your body is under stress, mental or physical, it increases the stress hormone cortisol. Studies have shown, stress for some drives under eating* and in others overeating. In the instance of under eating, the body goes into eating muscle and fat storing mode because it’s not getting enough calories so it holds onto as much as possible to survive, or in the case of overeating although the excess calories are stored as fat all over the body, cortisol promotes fat storage in the belly specifically. Everyone is different of course 🙂

  41. I'm french. I drink water, no wine, no beer. i don't like soda, coca etc. maybe I eat 2 big mac by year. I don't drink coffee. I don't smoke. I like so much bread, mayonnaise. I like vegetables and fruits. Each day i must at least (minimum) eat 1 fruit or 1 vegetable, if not i don't feel well lol, as something missing.

  42. I remember being at a Marché de Noël in France where there was a stall with a huge vat of tartiflette. This is a casserole made of potatoes, cheese, bacon, and onions – it is very starchy, filling and rich. But if that wasn't enough, they were selling tartiflette SANDWICHES! They'd split open a baguette, and fill it with this potato casserole, and it was just over the top. Yet I had French friends tell me, "Oh, we are thin because we only take very small portions." Well that's not what I was seeing. What I saw was that French people still smoke a lot more than most Americans, and that will help keep you thin.

  43. It seems to be a nice idea to teach kids to eat healthy products at early age, but as for me, when I was a kid, l wasn't allowed to eat sweets, so when I grew up I started eating all that stuff in huge amounts. I was literally mentally hungry all the time, so I think that doesn't work for every kid. Kids should have freedom to eat everything but control the amount of unhealthy foods.

  44. More real food, less processed food. More fat, particularly saturated fat, less carbs (as % of total calories). That said, the French are getting fat like everyone else because they are swinging towards a western diet.

  45. There is also the question of portion size, I notice that the portion sizes in France are a lot smaller than in America where everything is supersized and full of salt and additives where in Europe most of the food products are bio.

  46. Oh gosh…I soooo like you 🙂 But anyway I read book about French life, and there were written about nursery classes. How they teach little 3 years old kids to different tase od food… like cheese, vegetable…etc.

  47. My French host family ate like Gods, double the amount of me, how are they still thin? We had chicken, fries, pancakes, rice pudding, … And the breakfast was hot cocoa, nutella toast and brioche! I gained 10 pounds in 10 days there… It's a mystery to me. They also ate really fast…

  48. Fun fact: GM (genetic modification) is a way of developing new plant kinds, that can be controlled and predicted unlike the classical selection. A lot of researches stated, that gm-products tend to be even safer that the classic ones, as GM is able to cut off the dangerous spontaneous mutations, that usually happen while the selection process and gm-plants contain much less chemicals, as they have no need in insecticides. It's kinda disappointing to see that such a great discovery, which had all chances to help people in getting accessable food & shorten ecology contamination was buried by the marketing managers, fake researches and corporations 🙁

  49. Good eating habits from childhood ,that's the secret !👍 I was born and brought up in Europe ,even though I do live 49 years in Canada , I still follow my mother advice 🍎🍊 , 🥦🍆🥕 . 👩‍🍳🥗🍤🍲 +🍷 .😘

  50. I didn't enjoy the French food when I visited there. Each to their own taste I suppose. Every country thinks their food is the best. Personally, I don't know why the UK gets such a bad reputation regarding food as I have visited many countries but in my experience, I have yet to taste anything better than good old British fayre.

  51. Depends how you were brought up , only eat at meal times , never between meals .
    My mother bought very little shop food , home grown is best .

  52. I started eating healthy with this app called Mealime. It gives me recipes and grocery lists. But I was shocked to find that when I went to go buy the healthy food I didnt know more than half of the vegetables. Id never heard of a shallot or ginger root. Food education lacks in the US and its likely a key cause of our 30% obesity rate.

  53. Bullshit.. everybody knows that GMO's are the same or even more nutritious. And nothing compares with pre-made food or processed food. Yummy.. And I'm thin as a ghoul.

  54. One misconception I had about the French was you guys ate lots of pastries, never knew French diet is so healthy. Plus you have a very sweet likable personality, you get positive vibes just by watching you talk.

  55. I’m convinced the American food industry is determined to make the largest profit at the expense of our health. They know sugar is highly addictive and if they put it in everything, we want and need more. Sugar is in everything and it shouldn’t be. Most Americans are oblivious to this. Even in restaurants. Very interesting to hear that other countries this is not done. I wonder if the French government helps to control this so they food industry doesn’t prey on its people for profit.

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