Sunday, 29 April 2012

How The French Stay Slim - Interview With A French Woman

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Celine Chabourine is 31, French, 163cm and weighs a mere 53kg.  She believes that eating is a waste of time.  She eats only to re-fuel.

We sip our cups of green tea and Celine lay sprawled across the bed, mimicking a petite lioness, poised, cool, casual and oh so slim.

Eating is for re-fuelling.  
Celine explains that she did not grow up learning to cook.  She views food only for its purpose to energize.  I ask her how she remains so un-detached to food.  She shrugs her shoulders.  She grew up with meals that were prepared quickly and with a purpose to replenish instead of pleasure. 

When I am hungry I am happy to eat.  
Celine eats 3 meals at the same time each day but does snack regularly.  I am surprised to learn that she snacks.

I snack on anything and everything.  
“I am not difficult,” she says, laughing.  “I eat chocolate cake, sweets, biscuits or cereal bars.” I laugh with her whilst repressing an urge to throttle her.  Where she puts it, I wonder in deep amazement. 

Small but several times.  
It’s clear from her descriptions that her portions are very small.  A piece of chocolate cake would be the size of a little finger, not the extravagant slice from your usual coffee shop.  She would snack up to 5 times a day.

Breakfast.  A cup of black tea with a spoonful of sugar.  One slice toast with butter and jam (tartine).

Snack.  Often a piece of the home-made chocolate cake.

Lunch.  Meat or fish with a selection of vegetables such as green beans and petite pois, accompanied with fries, rice or new potatoes.  A piece of fromage or yoghurt to polish off the meal.  I suspect the portion sizes are small.  Yes.  Confirmed.

Snack.  More cake.

Snack.  More cake.

Snack.  Maybe a biscuit.

Dinner.  Soup of leeks, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes with a slice of bread and cheese, yoghurt or ice cream for dessert.  “I eat pasta or rice sometimes,” she said.  “Prepared with jambon, grated cheese or eggs.”  Again, a very small portion only.  I am not surprised that she’s chosen to eat her main meal for lunch, followed by lighter choices for her evening meal.

Favourite foods.  
Pasta & chocolate.  Is she really French?  Or is she just blessed with a speedy metabolism?  Either way, we've got cake to bond over.

Smoking is not good.  
“I know I shouldn’t do it,” she says, “but yes I smoke.  I plan to stop, but need something to motivate me.  Maybe a baby?”  I laugh, it’s clear that this is her weakness and is not proud to admit this.

Alcohol is not good either but I don’t drink.  
“I never have” she says.  “I don’t require it to party or socialise, but I understand why people feel the need for it.  From what I’ve seen, it helps others feel confident to speak to strangers, dance at parties or to simply relax.  I don’t need a drink to find the courage to speak to a stranger and I simply call a friend if I need to unwind after a hard day at the office”.  I couldn’t agree more and am really in awe of her decision to not drink.

Three recommendations to stay in shape.  
Exercise, eat well and smile.  Smiling radiates and attracts happiness, which blocks any desire to fill an empty pit with food’ she explained.  Brilliant, I love how she thinks!

Type of exercise.  
It’s clear that looking good is important to her.  ‘Running, stomach crunches and any firming exercises for the butt’ was her advice.

What time is dinner?  
‘I’m hungry’ she says, so we must bid farewell to you to feed her grumbling tummy. 

My impressions.  
So it appears the secret the French adopt for a slim body is by ‘eating what you want but in small portions’.  Simple and effective.  I did notice that she didn't mention fruit, so I have suggested that she incorporates these into her snacks.  

Bon app├ętit! 


  1. A different relationship to food for others who look to food to making them feel better (even when depressed), food is just to keep her going.

    I wonder what her exercise routine is?

    1. Celine walks for 30 minutes each day which is a great way to keep fit!

  2. This girl is so beautiful!!

    1. Oui je suis d'accord. Je l'ai trouvee dans la rue ;)

  3. Great article! I'm French as well and have the exact same diet.. I snack A LOT, but small portions. I eat 5-6 fruits & vegetables per day, main meal is lunch and have a salad in the evening. I also tend to reduce my carbs intake when am not doing sports. I forgot to mention, I loooooove Burger King....once a month ;-)

    1. Thank you G, yes I agree. My main meals used to be breakfast and lunch but, sadly my diet has changed since moving to London. Perhaps I will consider returning to my old habits for eating. It will definitely be easier eating salads in the summer.

  4. It's always interesting finding out how other people stay slim. My sister married a French man and lives in France. Apparently her in laws eat 3 meals a day, never snack and cook everything in tonnes of butter! Still they're slim. But they also stop eating when they're full and will leave a plate with food on.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, I enjoyed reading it. Yes I agree - I've almost given up on trying to work out how the French stay slim as their meals are loaded with butter or oils and they certainly do eat three meals a day. But like you've rightfully said, they stop eating once they are full. Conclusion = portion control.

  5. Her diet is indeed interesting, it works for her but for others I doubt it would be beneficial. Can you share some insights into what is her daily fibre intake is like, I ask this because judging from the diet above it seems low given the type of foods eaten and small portions. Her dairy intake is very good though. But beverages other than tea and alcohol were not mentioned, what types of beverages does she consume?

    1. Her fibre intake is low as I estimate her total fruit & veg intake as no more than 3 servings per day. I have recommended that she increases her overall intake of fruit and vegetables. She drinks tea and water for fluids. She may drink fruit juice and this will also contribute to her overall fruit intake.

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    3. That's lovely feedback, thank you. I hope all the messages from us RDs are all the same though, but just presented differently? Hope you'll spread the word about A Light Perspective :)

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