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Lose Weight the French Way, Eat Fat!

Cheese 'n' Crackers 'n' Sausage
Creative Commons License photo credit: Steve Snodgrass

Lose weight by eating more fat?  A dream perhaps for all those who love the taste of fat!  And who doesn’t?  Mmmm…butter, cheese, oils!  Based on research and a return to reality eating, the French organism, L’Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments, AFSSA, (French Agency for Food Safety) is pushing new dietary recommendations.  These recommendations include increasing the percentage of calories from fat in an adult’s diet from 30-35% to 35-40% of 2,000 calories.   The French agency admitted that the old recommendations of a low-fat diet were too restrictive and not realistic.

Yes, people were trying to eat less fat because they were told to do this.  But in place of fat there was high consumption of “light” and “lite” foods which have less fat but more sugar and sometimes modified sugars.  Also, those following a low-fat diet were eating more pasta, bread, rice and other starches.  This increase in carbohydrate and modified foods, the agency said, has resulted in an increase in obesity in the population overall.  (Even in France there has been a large increase in overweight/obese people).

Furthermore, a low-fat diet hasn’t been shown to be beneficial for some major health risks such as heart disease, breast cancer or colorectal cancer in women.  In one of the most expensive and largest studies on nutrition ever completed, the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial, there was no benefit seen by eating a low-fat diet compared to a “normal” diet, even for weight!  The study included 49,000 women, half of the women eating a low-fat diet and the other half eating their normal eating plan, followed over eight years. This study, plus other investigations looking at populations that eat a lot of fat in the diet (Mediterranean populations!)  demonstrated that eating a healthy high fat diet could even be beneficial to good health.

What is a healthy high fat diet?  Unfortunately it doesn’t include sausages, hamburgers and french fries (although these foods can also be eaten as part of a balanced diet). The “ideal” eating plan includes more fat intake, but these fat choices should include less animal fats and more vegetable fats.  Ideally, we need to also substitute high fat foods such as potato chips, french fries, fried foods for healthier food choices. See my suggestions below for some ideal healthy high fat menus.

I will admit, I started following a  healthy high fat diet when I moved to France eight years ago and I feel great.  Wierd…all that fat and I can still fit into my jeans!  Why?  It is because fat stays longer on your tongue and in your stomach (so more satiety and less hungry).  More fat in my diet means less carbohydrates, which some believe can cause weight gain.  I just know that when I was on a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet I was hungry A LOT!  One day, I will share with you my personal diet plan, which is primarily a Mediterranean diet:  lots of good fats (35-40% of a diet),  lean proteins, smaller portions of complex carbohydrates (pastas, rice, grainy breads).

So, tonight, in place of hamburger, french fries and a coke..what about grilled salmon, green salad with a good french vinaigrette (lots of good oils), lots of veggies on the side with olive oil sauce, a small piece of grainy bread and a glass of water?  Or….avocado and melon appetizer, followed by grilled eggplant and zucchini served with a very olive oil tomato pesto sauce and couscous?  These are just 2 ideas! Do you have any?  Let me know what you think and also if you want to see more menu /recipes on my blog!

Buon Appetito!  (I am hungry now! It is dinner time in France-homemade pizza tonight)



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7 Responses to Lose Weight the French Way, Eat Fat!

  1. maria October 14, 2011 at 13:23 #

    Hi Mary,

    I love reading the articles on your site as they are very informative. I have a question though and hope you can answer it for me. There is soooo much information about weight loss and somehow all the information contradicts itself. For example, some say low fat is the key to fat loss, others say low carb, high protein, food combining etc. It is very confusing and to the point where personally I have no idea how to eat a meal. I have approximately 45 kgs to lose and I am at a lost where to start? What are the basics to weight loss?

    • mbrighton October 14, 2011 at 13:50 #

      HI MARIA !! Thanks so much for your comment and encouragement. They both are very much appreciated. If there was one easy way to lose weight and keep it off and I knew this deep secret, haha), I probably wouldn’t be driving a 16 year old car (only kidding, I love my old baby). Unfortunately, there are many factors that contribute to weight gain, the difficulty to lose weight and keeping this weight loss off permanently. Some of these factors include: genetic, psychological, lack of time /inspiration to exercise, health, education and social issues. As you read this you can see that each person is different and the new philosophy for good health and weight loss is to personalize a plan that meets each persons’ differences.
      Personally, with clients and myself, a lower carbohydrate diet (with healthy fats and lean proteins) works better for weight loss and weight loss maintenance. A committment to do some form of exercise/physical activity 5-6 times a week is critical to speed up the process and feel good. The psychological aspects also play a big part in eating (eating out of boredom or emotional reasons, etc). A big help is to try and ‘eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full.’ Genetics is also important. Sometimes being within a “healthy weight” on the charts is difficult because our genetic makeup has a strong hold on our body.
      Do not want to dissuade you from starting any program. Start with small changes, look at big goals, but strive for increasingly bigger objectives as time goes on. You could look for a registered dietitian for advice where you live. For sure, start a physical activity program after the OK of your doctor.
      Just to let you know, in the near future (in a month or by 1/1/12) I will be offering my services as a dietitian through my website that is connected with this blog:
      I work with coaches too, which can be helpful to stay motivated. My philosophy is non-diet oriented, lifestyle adaptions but with pleasure and real ways to make it happen. I live in France, but with the internet can advise worldwide 🙂
      Please stay in touch…fantastic to hear from motivated readers. You can do it. Nothing is impossible as long as we have HOPE 🙂
      Best in Health, Mary


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    RT @mbrighton66: Lose Weight the French Way, Eat Fat!

  5. Mary Brighton - May 28, 2010

    RT @mbrighton66: Lose Weight the French Way, Eat Fat!

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