French Paradox

A lot of people are complaining that even though I am in France for the past 3 months, I am writing more about India than about France. Hence this post.

To me the French meal and dining habits looked pretty odd. There was the usual stuff like
1. While Indian meal had 10-15 spices, salt and pepper are sufficient for a French
2. While Indians prefer piping hot meal, in France often a sandwich stuffed with thin slices raw meat.
3. While there are only 2 varieties of commonly available cheese (paneer/cottage cheese and processed industrial cheese) and 2 varieties of bread (white bread and brown bread) Food in France is a piece of art. There are a few hundred varieties of cheese and wine and several kinds of bread.
4. The meal in India, esp. the lunch is functional. Most people can gobble up food in 15 minutes and then resume their normal daily work. In comparison the meal in france can easily last for over an hour, even when the person is eating alone.

However the real surprising fact was that a normal French food consists of a serving of red meat, fried potatoes, cheese and wine but very little vegetables. So essentially it’s quite high on calories and also food is central to the French daily life. However still there are hardly any obese people around. Dr. Serge Renaud, calls it the French Paradox.

The gist of his arguments are:
1. The French eat smaller portions. So it does not matter how much calorie laden each bite is.
2. Most of the fat comes from natural sources which body is able to handle more efficiently without the risk of accumulating in the body. Pre-cooked and packaged food forms a very small portion of French diet.
3. There sugar intake is low and also there is less prevalence of snacking.
4. French value a balance of life. i.e. they take time for walks, exercise, weekend get-away and pursuit of hobbies.

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