It’s official: the holiday season is open for fun, joy, spiritual recognition and a good party (or two). From now until New Year’s Day BrightonYourHealth will mark the occasion with how you can sip and savor holiday season the French way and have your cake and eat it too. This first article is on wine how French women keep thin (or keep thinner than other cultures). Could it because of the grapes in the wine they drink or how they drink their wine? As always I am grateful for your support and sharing the articles. Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season.
French Women Don’t Get Fat?
French Women Don’t Get Fat? One French secret for maintaining body weight might be in a wine glass.
Ranked just after Italy, France is the second largest producer of wine in the world. Close your eyes and picture what you think a French table looks like, did a baguette, cheese and bottle of wine come to mind? Wine is a part of France and a complement to the rich food culture that is so ingrained here where I live. And for a very normal budget (in fact French table wine is cheaper than some bottled waters) you could drink wine daily. Some do, but many I know don’t. The wine is only one part of the reason why French Women Don’t Get Fat. (Reality: There are overweight French women, but less per capita in France than in other OCED countries).
Red wine contains large quantities of resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant linked to lowering heart attack risk when consumed. White wine contains less resveratrol (because the grape skins are removed) and has other polyphenols linked to health benefits. (Read here for more information on wine’s health benefits). Study after study point to long term health benefits with moderate wine drinking. This doesn’t mean to start drinking wine if you haven’t picked up this habit, however drinking a glass a day of your favorite wine is nothing to feel guilty about.
Inside that wine glass, buried into a grape-turned to wine-are anti-oxidant and polyphenol compounds that keep you healthy if you consume wine. But back to the French and in particular, French women, I think their secret for staying slimmer has less to do with what is in the glass and more to do with how they drink wine. Before I talk about this, here are two studies linking wine consumption with weight loss.
Can drinking wine help women stay weight stable?
A large study published in 2010 concluded that women who drank wine and alcohol gained less weight than women who didn’t. The study published in the Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(5):453-461 showed an inverse relationship between alcohol consumption and obesity. This means for the 19,220 women in the study who were followed over 12.9 years, those that drank wine and alcohol, and in particular red wine, gained less weight than the non drinkers. The authors of the study controlled for external factors such as age, exercise, body mass index (BMI) and smoking status.
Another study done on rats concluded that consuming wine ‘alone’ (that is without food) converted the subjects in the study (rats) white fat into calorie burning beige fat (and thus weight loss). The study’s authors linked this result to the anti-oxidant resveratrol found in wine, berries and grapes. Online and print media shared these results with catchy headlines like “Drinking Wine Before Bed Can Help You Lose Weight,” which is not ethical to the average reader. First because the study was conducted on animals and not humans, and headlines like this promote drinking wine just to lose weight, when there is so much more behind enjoying a glass of wine!
If a study says that drinking wine can help lose weight, someone might (rightfully) conclude that drinking two or three glasses or binge drinking wine would even be better to lose weight. However, binge drinking is negatively correlated with health and increased weight.
Binge drinkers don’t see the same benefits on weight
Binge drinkers, or those who consume large quantities of alcohol at one time, do not see the same results as the women from the study of moderate consumers of alcohol. Looking at another large study, funded by the Wellcome Trust we see that male and female binge drinkers have larger waistlines, something that is negatively correlated with our heart health. In fact, those who drink a bottle of wine or 5 pints of beer in one night have much bigger waistlines than those who drink that same quantity of wine or beer over a week-long period. Thus, even if the person consumes the same amount of alcohol on a weekly basis compared to drinking it all on one day, the binge drinkers seem to put on weight and in the most dangerous place. Linking to the French culture, thinking of how alcohol and wine is drunk with meals here in France could this help explain how French help keep their waistlines?
French women stay thin because they: drink wine in moderation, drink wine slowly, drink wine with meals and use the Joie de Vivre as a de-stress pleasure time
French women don’t drink wine as a type of diet or weight loss method even if they are concerned with their weight and are strict with staying weight stable. Drinking wine is part of the pleasure of sipping and enjoying a delicious meal: A lunch or dinner eaten over several hours around a table with family and friends and good atmosphere. Wine is sipped slowly, in moderation even drunk with a late dinner after a stressful day at work. Drinking a glass of wine is not only a social gesture, but an easy way to slow down while eating, to eat just until we are full (je mange à ma faim) and enjoy some relaxing time. Drinking wine can help with recognizing that we are full before we over eat. Recent research shows how stress is linked with increased fat producing hormones like cortisol. Eating food while stressed has the body producing anti-inflammatory responses to a meal. I am convinced that having a mindful attitude and appreciation for the meal drunk with a glass of wine can contribute to a higher pleasure towards food and meals which leads to less weight and fat. (Read here a recent article on this).
The title of this article “French Diet Tips” is a bit misleading. Drinking wine in France is less about losing weight and more about healthy eating balance and pleasure. It is these last two aspects that keep French women thinner than women in other countries because the word deprivation is not a big part of French eating while the word pleasure is. Au Plaisir!
What do you think? Do you have a story to tell or would you like to keep reading articles like this ? You can join us for article updates and our monthly newsletter by clicking the subscribe button below. Your email will always remain private, and by subscribing you can download your free E-report on “How to Eat Like The French Without A Food Snob Attitude.”