French Women Don’t Get Fat: the Secret of Eating for Pleasure

By Mireille Guiliano

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, c2005, 2007

Genres: Non-fiction, health & fitness, healthy living, women’s health, diet, nutrition

ISBN: 9781400042128

Intended audience: “Women throughout the developed world” (p. 7)

Number of pages: 264

Setting: France & USA

Time period: Written for the present, but includes narratives from various points in Guiliano’s life between the 1950’s and 2005.

Description: Written by a French woman who has lived and worked in the US for most of her life, this book examines the differences in culture between the two countries in relation to food, life, and pleasure.  Recipes are interspersed with personal narrative, observations, and much common sense.  This is not a diet book; it is a book about attaining a healthy relationship with food and enjoying oneself while doing it.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: The personal narrative in this book make this a quick and easy read.

Characterization: Written in first person, Guiliano tells of her experiences in both France and the US.  She also includes friends and family members in this work.

Frame: The “French Paradox” and Guiliano’s challenges with her weight as a young woman set the frame for this book.  After spending a year in the US as a young woman and gaining much weight, Guiliano had to re-learn how to eat like a French woman to keep the figure she enjoys.

Story line: How to find pleasure and balance in food and life are explored.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Reducing diets.

Women — Health and hygiene — France.

Food habits — France.

Food — Psychological aspects.

Similar authors:

Naomi Moriyama and William Doyle – Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen

William Clower – The French Don’t Diet Plan: 10 Simple Steps to Stay Thin for Life

David A. Kessler – The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

Michael Pollan – In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual

Personal notes: I really enjoyed reading this book and found it filled with common sense, especially in the sections related to drinking water and moving more – walking and taking the stairs.  I am constantly amazed at how many people I witness everyday using the elevator to go up two flights.  I wish there were taller buildings in my everyday life so that I could use the stairs more regularly, but alas, I live in the western US where buildings sprawl rather than go up.

I appreciated the wisdom in the “zipper approach” to assessing one’s weight and figure, since actual pounds will vary depending upon the time of day and time of month.

While this book is a quick and easy read, I enjoyed taking my time with it.  And the Magical Leek Soup really is rather magical…

Other (diversity, themes, websites):

Mireille Guiliano’s website (lots of good looking recipes can be found here)

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