New year, new diet

By Jo Finzi pictureHow many of you have made a New Year’s resolution to change your eating habits, lose weight and eat more healthily? You’ll be pleased to discover that this year you can do it all without giving up bread and chocolate.

The secrets are in a book from the petite French lady who previously explained why French Women Don’t Get Fat.

According to author Mireille Guiliano, her first book wasn’t a diet book, it was “about learning how to eat a little bit of everything”. It was also a glimpse at the healthy way French women have always eaten.

Her method is effective, but surprising simple - drink lots of water; don’t drink anything stronger than a glass of wine, and then only with food; don’t eat snacks; eat proper meals with lots of fruit and plain, unsweetened yogurt; reduce portion sizes but eat slowly ,so that you savour your favourite foods; have chocolate (as long as it’s dark and in small quantities); don’t give up all bread - a small slice with a little butter is fine - and remember - French women rarely have seconds.

Practical day-to-day fitness advice included using the stairs instead of the lift and featured some key recipes, with tips on how French woman use leeks for their detox and diuretic properties, and eat prunes for breakfast to regulate digestion.

In her book, French Women for All Seasons, it’s still not so much of a rigorous diet regime but more about “how to change your relationship with living”.

Ms Guiliano does point the accusing finger at some obvious foods but also maintains the secret to healthy eating is to approach it in a relaxed and leisurely fashion. Even when she has a sandwich for lunch, she goes to a restaurant, sits at a proper table and lingers over every mouthful.

Her weight loss method is also simple - just reduce your portion size by 50 per cent until you achieve your goal.

The book reveals a few French secrets of good living, including which wine to drink and how to entertain French-style. pictureMs Guiliano (pictured) mixes her memories of Alsace with recipes for each season and a few French lifestyle lessons. “In the same way that you don’t need to eat like a pig,” she says, “you don’t need a closet full of clothes. It’s about less is more.”

Some critics argue that young French women are slim because they survive on black coffee and cigarettes but that’s not borne out by the statistics.

Recent surveys have shown that the French are an average of two stones (12.7kg) lighter than their British neighbours, despite consuming a similar amount of calories. The secret seems to lie in the fact that the French just don’t eat junk.

So there you have it. If you want to lose weight, choose your food wisely, eat slowly, use the half portions rule, but allow yourself a few treats and you’ll easily achieve your goal without going on a starvation diet.

Sparkling champagne is healthier by far than a fizzy soft drink laden with sugar and additives. It’s also more fun, and it makes a great start to the New Year!

French Women for All Seasons is published by Chatto & Windus: Buy it at For more information and recipes, go to

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