I’m just returning from a holiday traveling through France, which has been nothing short of spectacular!
Not only because, well…it was France! But for two big reasons:
- This was the first big vacation since the pandemic began.
- It’s the first time I’ve traveled internationally since being in remission from my food allergies.
Being in remission from food allergies is like learning to eat all over again. There is less fear, but I continue to work on being calm and making smart decisions about the food I put into my body.
When I’m on holiday, I love to put on my sneakers and go for a run through the streets, look at the houses, and run into (literally) a local market to see how other cultures are living in this post-pandemic (if we can even call it that) world.
On a Saturday jaunt, I found a farmer’s market in Saint-Émilion (a commune in the Gironde department in Nouvelle-Aquitaine in southwestern France) where my senses were truly awakened to all of the local produce. The colors were vibrant, the people were smiling, and I was breathing in the gorgeous air as I walked around trying the different delicacies.
Local produce from a market at Saint-Émilion
A few key observations hit me about the French food culture during my trip:
1. Their food labeling system is far superior to ours.
- Besides going to the local farmer’s market weekly to buy healthy ingredients, most food items in supermarkets are labeled with a Nutri-Score of A, B, C, D, and E.
- The Nutri-Score ranks food from -15 for the ‘healthiest’ product to +40 for those that are ‘less healthy’.
- This label is clearly marked on many food items, including pre-packaged sandwiches, which make it easy for someone to make a decision about what they are choosing to eat.
2. Their portion sizes are smaller than ours in America.
- There’s an old joke saying that the average American serving for one could feed a French family of four!
- I definitely noticed that their portion sizes were smaller and that most people didn’t go back for seconds – a great exercise in mindset.
3. They walk daily for exercise.
- People are accustomed to walking everywhere or riding in their incredibly clean subway system.
- Walking occurs at all times of the day, especially after meals.
4. Their wine doesn’t give you a hangover!
- Great news – some French wines may give you fewer headaches thanks to lower levels of alcohol, tyramines, and sulfites depending on how the wine is made and which grape varieties are used!
5. They cherish the time they spend with others over a meal.
- As it should be, the French take a pause around meals to sit down and enjoy the food with loved ones. This also means putting away devices while at the table.
These simplistic things are what keep the French healthy, young at heart, and a country with the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.
It’s not really rocket science to incorporate any of these five things into our own lives. We can take any of these as small steps to living a long, healthy, and happy life.
And that can begin today!
So here’s a challenge for you this week – try one (or all) of the following:
1. Eat only fresh ingredients from the market – nothing boxed or canned. (Since we don’t Nutri-Score in the U.S., be more cognizant of reading labels.)
2. Pre-portion out your plate before eating, and don’t go back for seconds.
3. Get in a 20-30 minute walk every other day.
4. If you drink wine, opt for an imported French white or red!
5. Cherish your meals. Pause and give thanks for the meal you’re about to eat before beginning.
For a FREE 30-minute Nutrition + Health Coaching session with me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.