I'm often asked how french women drink wine, eat cheese and croissants, and manage to stay a size 8-38, so I thought I'd explain a few things. This is just based on my personal experience and my education. Given the fact that the only times I've been to the gym happened under threat and after I tried ignorance, escape, intimidation, negotiation and supplication (I know, I need to work on that), and that despite that, I still fit in the same clothes I was wearing when I got to Dubai 2 years ago, I guess my parents must have taught me well. So here is what I know:
1- Yes, we drink wine, but we don't binge. If I decide to get drunk, don't worry, I will, but it happens once a year and wine isn't my weapon of choice. When I drink wine, I like to appreciate it (and remember how good it was), so I will have a couple of glasses, between 2 and 4 but that's it. And if it helps, we have a saying in France about mixing: "Blanc sur rouge, rien ne bouge. Rouge sur blanc, tout fout l'camp", which translates into: "Red then white, you're in the clear. White then red, never been sicker".
2- I don't drink sodas. My mother never really bought them when I was a child so they stayed some sort of exceptional treat. As an adult, I find them too sweet so the only time you will see me with a coca cola is when I am nauseous. Other then that, I have mostly water, fresh juices and wine.
3- Yes we eat cheese, no we don't eat croissants everyday. The latter is a myth. We'll have one croissant on Sundays but that's it.
4- We cook, yes we do. I am not used to ordering in; I like the idea of knowing what's in my plate. And because of the size of the flats in Paris, you usually don't have space to cook properly so the simpler the better (hello farandole of salads!).
5- Remember the metro is always on strike in Paris, therefore we walk. A lot. I remember walking sometimes up to 1h30 to get to college. That's something that I try to do as much as possible here in Dubai. I realise how silly that sounds, but just going to the supermarket by foot and carrying your groceries will do.
6- We don't snack. I don't carry a bag of nuts in my bag, I stick to my 3 meals a day. Which also means I don't skip breakfast. I'm an early bird so even if I'm meeting friends for brunch, I'll manage to have coffee and a toast at 8am, that's my way of avoiding food binging at the Al Qasr (not so chic).
7- We eat a little bit of everything in small quantities. "You have to try it before you can decide you don't like it", how many times did I hear that sentence when I was a child. It applied to escargots and shellfishs, but also to my grandmother's beef tongue (my grandfather watched me and my plate for 3h that day)... So I learned to balance my diet and refrain from eating the whole bag of chips/cookies.
8- We enjoy our food so no, we won't skip our lunch break. Relax, chew, enjoy, even if it's just a sandwich. Eating slowly will give your head time to process what your stomach is doing so that you will feel stuffed when you actually are. If you eat fast, there's a good chance you will over-eat because your brain won't have time to give you the satisfaction sensation.
And since on a Sunday in Paris I would walk to the bakery to treat myself to a pastry, I made chouquettes today!