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French Ways to Eat for Pleasure and Good Health:Super Supper

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French Ways to Eat for Pleasure and Good Health:  Lighter and Later Dinner


Oooooh!  Full moon out, it is evening here in France.  What are the French doing?  Thinking about dinner…or should the term be supper?  A light and late supper-dinner.  This cultural aspect of eating a light but later supper is typically French and is included on the list of ways to eat for pleasure and good health.  Enjoying a soup and salad, or a bowl of pasta and a slice of ham, a light omelette and toast and between 7:30- 9 PM.  This is a typical supper scenario in many French households.  The verb in French, souper, is the action of having a light dish of food before retiring soon after to bed. Check out this article by Wikipedia on the term suppertime and where it originated.  By moving YOUR supper-dinner an hour or two later at your house, you also could reap some interesting benefits such as more family eating together time, less snacking after dinner, hungrier eaters, lighter dishes and more relaxing sleep as you go to bed without digesting a large meal.

How does souper supper work in France?

The reason it works here is because it has to.  First, kids and some adults eat their sacred French goûter (snack) (see my article about this) which ends around 5 to 5:30 PM.  Already with this snack schedule, dinner must be later. Who is hungry for food one hour after snacking?  For working people, the average time getting home from work is around 7 PM which is quite late if you need to start thinking about dinner and cooking it. Thus a later suppertime fits in nicely, with lighter foods and later option to the big meal that the French normally enjoy at midday.  The other benefits of pushing supper later are that you can get the whole family together to eat after everyone is home from their activities and work. Having a sit down supper is a great way to have family time and finish the day in good form.  So tonight, think light and later and let me know what you are serving on your plate.  For us, again it is Soupe de Bonne Femme, see the recipe here from the recipe section on the website.  We have leeks and potatoes waiting to be cooked!  Yum Yum 🙂  Bon Appetit!

Just added: Here is a image/link to the English version of a French cookbook I use. A reader named Cathy, who is interested in cooking the French style lighter and later dinners tickled my brain asking for a good resource. Here it is Cathy! And for anyone else looking for a good cookbook for simple and real food, check it out!

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18 Responses to French Ways to Eat for Pleasure and Good Health:Super Supper

  1. Cathy B. July 26, 2012 at 20:46 #

    Hi Mary, thank you so much for the information. I really appreciated hearing the specifics of a typical French supper. I often hear they eat a bowl of soup for dinner, but that wouldn’t hold me. But a bowl of soup with a salad and bread and cheese? Now THAT sounds yummy and like it would get me through the night!

    I also appreciate you sending me the links to the recipe websites. I checked them out and they look great! They have been bookmarked. 🙂 I also found a good one from Quebec, Recettes du Quebec.

    I wish I lived in France or Quebec. In the USA, if you have a keen interest in good food, you are considered “obsessed” with food. The French understand that good food is a major part of la joie de vivre!

    Thank you, Mary!

    • mbrighton July 26, 2012 at 23:35 #

      Hi Cathy! So nice to see you back. I am glad you liked the links. I will send more as I find them! Actually the dinner is quite simple so there is not much recipe books/websites devoted just to dinner…While I think about it though, I will send you the link to a great French cookbook using simple ingredients. You can look up soups and other easy French dishes in it. Will see if it available in and let you know.
      Keep in touch and let me know how you are doing and if you have any other queries. Mary

    • mbrighton July 26, 2012 at 23:51 #

      Ah Cathy! I found it! Here is the English edition. I have the French version. You can order off of It is called “La Cuisine by Francoise Bernard”
      I am also putting the picture of the book/link to buy it into the article too, so you can see what it looks like and others can buy it too. Have a good one!

  2. Cathy B. July 18, 2012 at 23:51 #

    Hi Mary, I will appreciate whatever you can find. I do speak French so if you find a French website with recipes for light supper ideas, that would be okay, too. What specifically would a light supper consist of? Would they have bread along with the meal? Dessert? If I make the meal too light, I have trouble getting to sleep or I wake up hungry in the middle of the night. I don’t eat meat at night because it affects my sleep, and I think maybe eggs do, also. So that sort of limits me to dairy for protein. Do the French eat eggs or meat at the late supper meal?

    I suspect the reason I am losing weight eating the same kinds of foods that used to cause me to gain weight is the switch from a high fat, high protein, heavy breakfast to the light, carby breakfast. It seems to rev up my metabolism and change the way I process carbs. There was a study done in 2010 by Molly Bray, published in the International Journal of Obesity, that found that what you eat for breakfast will affect the way you metabolize foods throughout the day. if you have a carby breakfast, you will process carbs efficiently through the day. If you have a high fat breakfast, you will process fats more efficiently. The conclusion was that a high fat breakfast was better but I disagree. I become morbidly obese having a high fat breakfast daily because I couldn’t effectively process carbs later in the day. Now I burn them up rapidly and am losing weight!

    • mbrighton July 21, 2012 at 06:08 #

      Hi Cathy,
      Here are 2 very well known and reputable websites for dinner ideas. Both are French so you will be able to get a good feeling of simple dinner ideas that are served in France.

      The main meal in France is at noon so dinner is super simple: soup, salads, quiches, eggs. I could say that a simple dinner consists of a bowl of soup, salad, some cheese, bread.
      Yes, there is bread with dinner. Dinner may be a yogurt or a piece of fruit.
      The French would eat eggs and I couldn’t say that meat is part of dinner, however, I make soups with small parts of meat bone or bacon for flavor. Meats are not at all the dominate part of a French dinner.
      The soups, quiche and eggs are not low in fat. The salads have vinaigrettes (oiled filled) and with the whole dinner meal you should feel full enough not to wake up during the night.
      I like your hypotheses on why your high carb breakfast helps to keep you losing weight. Sounds logical! I also like my carb breakfast, eat a big lunch and light supper. Works for me!
      Let us know how you are doing and of course if I can be of further help especially on these French recipe links.

  3. Cathy B. July 16, 2012 at 01:26 #

    Hi Mary, I am enjoying your articles. I have been following the French way of eating for about 8 months and have lost about 30 lbs. (Still have a lot more to lose!) The late, light supper is my most challenging meal. I have trouble coming up with ideas for it. Can you give me suggestions for menus for this meal? Or can you steer me to a place on the web for ideas. I know it is soup, salad, pasta, etc., but I am looking more for specific info and recipes, if available. Thank you!

    • mbrighton July 16, 2012 at 05:35 #

      Hi Cathy! Thanks very much for your support and comment. So happy for you for your weight loss. Great job! Is it the main meal at lunch or slower eating that has helped the most? Or maybe just a combination of different tips. Either way, congratulations. I will try to look into a website for some ideas for a lighter supper options and will get back to you. I would suggest to avoid heavy meals and move to light salads, quiche, soups, omelettes. Will find some suggestions and let you know. One avenue is to look at vegetarian meals, those that are easy to make.
      Thanks Cathy and continued success. A bientot! (see you soon in French) Mary

  4. Claire March 31, 2011 at 10:42 #

    When I was a youngster (way, way back !!) in UK, we’d have a light-ish meal at midday, main meal around 5h30-6 and then supper in the evening around 9-9h30 (before going to bed). Supper consisted generally of just a cup of tea and some toast. This is really just reversing the French goûter and evening meal, but as to which is the more beneficial healthwise, no idea !!
    My parents find it quite hard to adjust when they come here, to the later evening meal time, and likewise we (particularly the kids) find it so bizarre eating a main meal so early !! (Especially when that means aperitive time starts at 4 o’clock in the afternoon LOL !!)
    Very much enjoying your articles, Mary.

    • mbrighton March 31, 2011 at 16:22 #

      Hi Claire! So much enjoying your comments. Really, love to hear about the English culture and the food. Although we lived in the UK for about three years it is still more powerful to hear stories from a real English person 🙂
      I think the way you did it as a youngster in the UK is just as beneficial as in France now. As you said you reversed the gouter with your supper. Unfortunately times are changing rapidly. In keeping with fast-paced two income households, both in UK and France; there is the large influence of sugary drinks, convenience foods and snacks (crisps in UK, chocolate biscuits in France) plus the sedentary lifestyle. All this has had an negative effect on health and has contributed to rising obesity rates both in children and adults.
      Funny too your comment about your parents finding it hard to adjust to the different dinner times here in France. Same when we head off for the summer to the states: my parents are baffled with the late and light dinner that I and my kids find ingrained in our system. But, they follow the trend and like it too. Thanks for commenting, really tell me more stories, love to hear about food and food culture !

    • mbrighton March 31, 2011 at 18:17 #

      Hi Paul! Thanks for your quick reply! I was actually going to go onto PubMed tonight (or in the next couple of days) to do a more indepth research on Caralluma. When I couldn’t find much on I didn’t think there were much else out there as far as real scientific studies, but I was going to look anyway before you mentioned. The one study that I did find was from St. John’s Medical College in Bangladore, India. It had a small participant group (25 in those taken product, 25 in control) and the study was supported by Gencor. There is always a “red light” when I see studies done that are supported by the company manufacturing the product. This compared to well done studies by independent panels or research groups which perhaps have more weight in their results (in my opinion). However, I will take a look at the other studies done on PubMed.
      There is not much information on Caralluma-if you could put some links here in the comment section (if you have any), that would be interesting.
      Didn’t know it was widely consumed in pickles! In French pickles too, where I live?
      My background is truely using a natural way to promote and continue good health. For sure, I advocate this though safe use of food, herbs, supplements, homeopathy, physical exercise, spirituality, meditation, etc etc. as opposed to using medicine.
      It is ethically difficult to me to promote false hopes to those who desperately want to lose weight, by telling people to take “pills” to lose weight. I know the weight loss industry is a major business /market. I have counseled hundreds of clients on weight loss. How depressing it is for them to lose some weight and gain it back again! You may not realize this -as you are “scrawy” (haha) (me too, I am thin), but a long-term lifestyle of healthy eating, physical activity, sometimes psychological support, realistic goals..real eating…this is more my trend. However, maybe Caralluma could be that extra push that some need to lose the few pounds while making those lifestyle changes.
      We will see. In the meantime, will check out those studies and do some more research about Caralluma and its potential as a hunger suppressant. I am sure that if this food has a real scientific basis it will be picked up by a research lab to do some further investigations or perhaps a university research group or receive another type of major scientific grant.
      Thanks again for your input and will write again in the next week or so (after my suitcases are unpacked! )

    • mbrighton April 4, 2011 at 17:33 #

      Hi Paul, Did some research on PubMed and only found 2 articles on Caralluma. See links below. One article was a study done with rats, the other study was the one published in Appetite and was based on a small partipant sample (50) and was supported by Gencor. Can you provide links to the other articles? Couldn’t pull anything else up. Thanks so much and look forward to hearing from you soon.



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