Monday, February 18, 2008

Paris la Belle (and some good eatin')

It is really too late to post about my visit to Paris, since it was in September last year, but I am going to do it anyway, prompted by all the talk of eating properly in the new year, diets to get rid of festive flab, and the like.

Now, mostly I escape the festive fat, but then winter arrives and it gets harder to stay on the straight and narrow. My parents, both of whom have been slim all their lives, taught us very good, moderate eating habits. But for some reason I tend to stray from that path with alarming regularity. One of the reasons I came to yoga in the first place was that I had a great deal of weight to lose. I lost it. Then the extreme eating espoused during my teacher training left me more than a little confused, and over the past few years I have found it difficult to balance enjoyment, moderation and guiltlessness in my eating. So my weight tends to oscillate. Before our two-month world trip, my jeans were tight. By the end, they barely fastened.

Thank goodness Paris was the last stop. Had it been a less beautiful city, after two months, my overstimulated senses would just have shut down completely. And then there was the food. I think about the food in Paris a lot. Wistfully. Strangely, a lot of the people carrying baguettes under their arms (yes, gasp, white bread!) looked thin and healthy. How could this be? Well, a clue came when I overheard our hotel manager ordering his lunch: a tarte aux fruit rouges. And a salade. Aha! He was balancing the naughty pastry with the saintly salad. Clever. And just so you know, he breakfasted in the hotel dining room on pain au chocolat and coffee.

Somewhere in the dim recesses of my memory I remembered a book called French Women Don't Get Fat. Couldn't find it anywhere, but my favourite scond-hand bookstore did have a copy of the sequel, French Women for All Seasons. The author, Mireille Guiliano, is a Frenchwoman who struggled briefly with her weight when she move to the US. Returning to the eating principles of her youth sorted that out rather quickly!

She gives great advice, most of which is common sense, but we all need to be reminded. Well, I do anyway. Eat slowly. Savour your food. Stop when you are full. Eat the best you can afford. Carbs are not the enemy. Get a bit of exercise every day; she favours walking, cycling and, yes, yoga!

It was such a liberating read, lifting so much of the guilt I carry around food and eating. And since reading it, I have got rid of the extra eight kilograms I lugged around India and Europe. With no guilt, no hunger, and quite a lot of chocolate. The book is now with my best friend. I hope it does for her what it did for me!


Everyday Yogini said...

I really liked this book, too, Nadine. Food can get confusing anymore (and I still spend time confused!), which is a funny thing to me... have you read The Omnivore's Dilemma? He talks about it in a very cogent, sane way.

Julia said...

I still drool remembering the food in France! The BEST (yes white) bread I have ever had in my life! And the cheese! But yes, you really can't eat like that everyday without a tricky balancing act. I wish more people would realize there is no magic weight loss secret - it's all just common sense! You gotta have some greens with that baguette and brie! (btw - and have great healthy recipes on their blogs!)

shula said...

I've gained so much weight since I started teacher training, it's starting to worry me. I come out of morning classes ravenous, and all the practice has slowed my metabolism (a good thing).

So you think this is normal?

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about the decision to leave. if you ever find a country run by honest politicians you could market it and make a fortune. i know a few great people in government which makes a difference.
for those of us staying behind, a few thoughts at
We have built up a community forum in our neighbourhood and are starting a "know your neighbour" campaign. Its small, but practically and spiritually important. Heres to positive outlooks and great futures!