How Does a European Lifestyle Keep People Thin?

You may have heard the phrase: “French women don’t get fat.” Frankly, I find it abrupt and provocative, but the fact is, it’s true. There is just something different about the European lifestyle.

In fact, most Europeans enjoy a nice silhouette, so they must be doing something right (Read on to find out what).

Don’t worry; I know their tricks. I spent about half of my life in Europe living a healthy European lifestyle before coming to this great country and eventually becoming a proud American.

Today, it just so happens that I received the following email from a reader, so this is my chance to unveil the secrets.

“Hello Chef,
I purchased your Eat More, Burn More cookbook and have made several delicious meals from it! I still don’t understand how European women can stay thin when they eat croissants, pasta, bread, etc… all the time! What is different about the European lifestyle? Are European women making these foods with the adjustments you suggest? And what about eating out?? Our family will be spending 2.5 weeks in Italy this month — eating in restaurants often!! Any advice on how we can successfully do this? How do I get around the croissant breakfasts and pasta???
Thank you!”


Great questions, Lorine.

You see, the more I spend time in the U.S., the more I understand the cultural differences between the U.S. and Europe, as they relate to nutrition, exercise, and healthy eating. There is a difference between the American and European lifestyle.

How do European women keep their figure? There are details in their lifestyle that I believe make a big difference.

Here they are:

  1. Light exercise is one of them (you walk everywhere in Europe).
  2. Having longer meals and taking the time to enjoy them while having conversations at the dinner table also makes a difference (digestion takes more time, which helps).
  3. The portions are smaller.
  4. The food is more authentic and healthier as a general rule (less processed foods).
  5. Europeans eat more fiber (more veggies, more nuts, seeds, less empty calories).
  6. Pastries and sweets are usually enjoyed at the end of the meal.
  7. Less fast food.

All this makes a huge difference. In fact, it makes the difference.

Lorine, I’ll be surprised if your family gains weight during your trip to Italy. Please let me know when you get back. I bet you’ll be all fine. Enjoy your trip, live like an Italian (enjoy the small portion of pasta as an “appetizer,” walk everywhere, eat what the locals put in front of you, have a glass of red wine daily, chit chat with your hosts…), and don’t worry so much about gaining weight. The European lifestyle is very likely to have a positive impact on your weight and overall health!

In my experience, when my U.S. relatives visit my family in France, they actually lose weight! The food there is actually much more fiber oriented, with less empty calories and less sugar. And that is exactly what I promote in my book Eat More, Burn More.

Have a good trip and let me know if I’m right. 🙂

That reminds me of my wife Carissa’s article on how she lost 20 pounds living with a French chef.

Never Diet Never Sacrifice

Gui Alinat

Gui Alinat is a Tampa, Fla.-based American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef, published food writer, and the owner of Artisan Boutique Catering. He is the author of "The Chef's Repertoire," and "Eat More, Burn More." Born, raised and classically trained as a chef on the Mediterranean coast of France, he traveled extensively, working in restaurants around the world. Chef Gui promotes an active lifestyle, sound nutrition, and believes that fresh and tasty food is resolutely compatible with fat loss and bodybuilding alike. He lives in Florida with his wife Carissa and their five children.