May 13, 2008

Attention to Detail

In my formative years, I welcomed counting during meals and snacks only as a means of pacifying sibling rivalry. Unwilling to forfeit one molecule of substance, my brothers and I scrutinized the divvying and distribution. Small items were a cinch to count unless there was variation in size. On larger food items, my Dad took matters in hand by having one person divide and another choose. We were meticulous!

My reasons for counting changed with womanhood; it no longer had to do with equality but with personal consumption. I resented it. I have owned many calorie, carbohydrate, and glycemic index counters—all of which have met fates with yard sales and dumpsters. Whether it concerns chewing my food 20 times before swallowing or keeping stats,
I have never found the act of simultaneously counting and eating to be a happy marriage.

Mireille Guiliano authored the book,
French Women Don’t Get Fat. I purchased both the softcover and the audio version over a year ago, favoring Mireille's narrative because anything sounds better in French! I confess that I was caught off guard by the fascinating comparisons of our two cultures.

Mireille's writes about her intense depression over a 20-pound weight gain after adapting to an American diet, even to the point of feeling ashamed to face her family in France. My reaction was, "Twenty pounds? She was that low-spirited over twenty pounds?" Well, I didn't need an epiphany to understand why she wrote the book. By virtue of our culture, Americans are much more adjusted to fluctuation in weight.

Mireille Guiliano encourages women to "eat for pleasure" through an approach she refers to as "recasting." Mireille states that French women " with their heads and they do not leave the table feeling stuffed or guilty."

For a better understanding, I looked up the word "
recast" in the Encarta® World English Dictionary.
  • to repeat the casting process for an object formed in a mold
  • to change the form of something
  • to assign roles in something such as a play or film to different actors
  • To embrace recasting, you have to be ready to embrace pleasure and individual happiness as your goals.
  • At least half our bad eating and drinking habits are careless; they grow out of inattention to our true needs and delights. We don’t notice what we are consuming, we are not alert to flavors–– we are not really enjoying our indulgence, and therefore we think nothing of them and overdo it.
  • But you must understand there is nothing noble in failing to discover and cultivate your pleasures. (It will make you not only fat, but grouchy.)
  • And since everyone’s taste and metabolism are unique, you must pay attention to yourself—to what delights you—so you can tailor your system and preferences. It’s a lifelong commitment, but it promises a lifetime of good health and contentment.
  • Do you ask the waiter for more bread before he has even brought your order? You might find once slice savored slowly with dinner just as satisfying, or you might just as easily wait for your appetizer. Do you finish every French fry on your plate?
  • Little things do add up.Consider all the things you consume regularly. Which of them is giving you real pleasure and which are you having to pointless excess.
  • One thing French women know is that the pleasure of most foods is in the first few bites; we rarely have seconds. The things we enjoy we don’t enjoy as a matter of routine.
Picture from


  1. Hi KJ,
    I loved that book. I found it really interesting.
    It's one of my favorites.
    Thanks for visiting me,

  2. I have known of this book, but have not read it. It certainly sounds like I should give it a try.

  3. Well, the above comment is me. I managed to post without putting in my information. Sorry

  4. How interesting! I'll have to look for that book!

  5. This is really interesting to me. Like the others I have seen this book but not read it...yet.

    I once heard a great quote - but I can;t name the author -
    "The first bite is heaven - the rest, redundant."

    Ah, but that first bite! Thanks for making me put on my "thinking cap"!

  6. I don't know about you, but if the second, third and all the rest of the bites weren't just as good as the first, I wouldn't be eating so darn much! Unfortunately, a hurried lifestyle often doesn't leave much time for savoring each bite. If only there were easy answers to the problem.

  7. I hear you, Kathleen, on this one. I am rarely seated serenely in a patio garden with time to play with my food. I’m usually in flight from one to-do to the other.

    I am taking notes though. And, I have begun to add a little more personal flair to my meals alone. My daughter and I have started sharing one meal at a restaurant. I do want a bit more ceremony with my meals. When I accomplish this (which isn’t easy), I do feel more gratified and satisfied. With mental-pause, my metabolism has slammed its brakes! I need all the help I can get!

    Thanks for sharing Kathleen! Have a great evening!


  8. Ugh! I have accordian hips! Wide, a bit narrower, wide again.... I really need to read this book, although I did lose 10lbs. on weight watcher.

    It's slowly creeping back,
    Hugs, DebraK


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♫ Karen