woman eating food and smiling on the french diet

The French diet is a phenomenon that many try to decipher and understand, as it seems to contradict itself upon first glance. How can French women eat bread, butter, and pastries, yet remain as slim as they do?

In America, we’ve learned about all sorts of diets. Whether it’s a low-carb keto diet, the meat-focused paleo diet, or plant-based diets like the vegan diet, many American women have tried everything to shed pounds and maintain a slim figure.

We’re constantly told that fat is bad, carbs are the enemy and sugar expands the waistline, yet French women seem to be eating all of these things and looking great while they do it. The truth is, however, French women are using a few tricks up their sleeve in order to maintain their slim figures.

French Diet Tricks

After spending much time in France, living like the locals and observing their dietary habits, we’ve learned that the French diet is not at all about dieting but rather being more mindful and aware of the foods you eat and the experience surrounding it.

Here are five ways the French eat what they want and stay svelte without hitting the gym every day or taking part in fad diets:

1. Practice moderation

A French woman probably won’t pass up on a slice of tarte citron or another French dessert if she’s at a party. The French love dessert just as much as we do, however, French women know what it means to eat in moderation.

Instead of consuming a huge wedge of the tart, a French woman will cut herself a sliver to enjoy. She will also make sure she is conscious about what sweets she eats the rest of the day and possibly forego the dessert option at dinner or lunch the next day.

2. Eat at the table

Far too often, many of us end up sitting in front of the TV for dinner or eating our breakfast in the car. At work, you may find yourself shoveling down lunch in front of your computer screen in between meetings.

French women know the importance of sitting down to eat without distractions. When you’re focusing on your food rather than a tv program, you eat more slowly and thoughtfully and have time to realize when you’re actually full.

3. Savor your food

Have you ever eaten your food so quickly that you didn’t even realize you finished everything on your plate? Or worse, have you ever eaten with so much distraction that you can’t even remember what the food really tasted like when you were eating it?

One of the keys to avoiding overeating is to not just sit down at the table when you’re eating, but also go one step further and actually take your time eating. If you eat a small handful of fries slowly and deliberately, savoring the taste of each fry, you’re likely to have had your fill of fries before you’ve finished the whole portion on your plate.

4. Focus on eating real food

We all know the value of eating healthy, but in America, we tend not to view bread or full-fat milk as healthy. We’ve been taught to buy low-fat products and even those packaged as “health foods.”

French women, however, don’t believe in buying packaged meals, even if they’re advertised as low-carb or vegetarian. The French believe in buying real, whole foods, even if it’s a tub of full-fat yogurt or a baguette. The less handled or processed any food is, the better it is.

French women focus on buying a lot of fresh produce, cheese, full-fat dairy that hasn’t been subbed with sugar instead of fat, and other real ingredients they can use to put together homemade meals. The frozen food aisle is no friend of a French woman’s.

5. Walk as much as you can

In America, we tend to drive most places and park in the closest parking spot to our destination as we can. We try to make up for this lack of activity by heading to early morning workouts at the gym or hitting the treadmill after work.

While there’s nothing wrong with being active in the gym, scheduled workouts are only useful if you can be consistent with them and fully commit to them. Most people tend to start a workout plan at the gym and then give up on it after a couple of months. After all, it’s hard to wake up early for a gym class or muster up the energy after a long day of work.

French women don’t visit the gym that often. In fact, up until recently, you really couldn’t find very many gyms or studios in the country devoted to fitness. Instead, the French incorporate exercise in their everyday routine through walking. Skipping transportation in favor of walking to their destination, taking the stairs instead of using the elevator, and making after-meal strolls a normal part of the day are all ways French women make sure they’re being active throughout the day.

Taking a Cue From French Women

Above all else, French women believe eating should be about pleasure. The idea that foods like bread, cheese, or chocolate are too “sinful” or “indulgent” is not a sentiment French women share.

French women believe that good food is an important part of daily life and that sitting around the table to enjoy a fantastic meal shouldn’t prompt feelings of guilt or shame. You don’t have to skip out on pasta or cake; simply eat a little less of these than you normally might, and make sure to enjoy each and every single bite!


Goldenberg, E. (2017, July 11). The 5 Rules French Women Follow To Effortlessly Hit Their Happy Weight. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-french-women-stay-thin
Born and raised in Southern California, Beeta has embraced a healthy lifestyle focused on farm-to-table cooking, natural products, and wellness routines. When she's not writing up recipes or discussing the latest natural living trends, Beeta enjoys spending time trying new restaurants, traveling with family and friends, and relaxing at home with her furry companion.