French Paradox: Other Possible Explanations?

Dec 7, 2008 by

A few years ago the media went crazy over the mysterious fact that the French consume so much butter, fat, and other condemned yet Real Foods, but have much lower heart disease and obesity rates than we Americans. “It must be the red wine!” someone declared.

But what about the dozens of other factors that might account for the fact that the French are healthier (though the gap is now lessening as their traditional ways of eating give way to the path of least resistance: processed and fast foods)? Traditionally, almost everything is different about eating—and drinking—in France.

We could start with America’s little drinking problem. The average American averages around 700 12-ounce sodas per year. Could that fact alone, compounded by our lack of adequate wine consumption, account for a few of our health problems? I got a big culture shock when I discovered that my 60-year-old French mother-in-law had never even tasted Coke.

Then there’s America’s far more troubled and neurotic relationship with food. For many Americans, feeding children is hard. Feeding children is a struggle. Not one but two American moms successfully published books last year instructing mothers in how to smuggle healthy foods into their children’s stomach’s by concealing them in unhealthy foods, which are all their children will eat.

In contrast, the French introduce their children to those same foods as if they were good friends. Parenting books recommend feeding a baby a single pureed vegetable at a time, instead of bland blends of several. The goal is for children to become familiar with the distinctive flavors of Real Foods, to cultivate their tastes and educate them in the enjoyment of healthy eating.

Maybe if we Americans weren’t so stressed–another known major factor in health problems–over feeding our kids, we could get away with eating a little more fat and butter, too. At least we can have a little glass of wine. We deserve it. Or rather, it’s for our health, of course.

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon December 4, 2008 All Rights Reserved

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