Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Fat Fallacy

After a year of trying to change my dietary lifestyle Im finding that I need to mix things up a little to keep my head in the game. In an attempt to do just that I checked a book out of the library entitled, The Fat Fallacy; Applying the French Diet to the American Lifestyle, by Will Clower MD.

Having never been to France I find it a little hard to believe that only about 5% of their population is overweight but that's what I am told so I will try to wrap my brain around it. One thing I do believe though is that fat does not make you fat. We have lived under this sort of heresy for 30 years now in this country and in spite of all the fat free products on the market we are not getting thinner.

Clower points out that the French eat real butter, real cream, whole milk, whole yogurt and olive oil and they are not fat. The diet he ultimately espouses happens to be the one I have used this entire year. He uses good fats to control appetite and blood sugar. I don't have a doctors degree but I do have a body that tells me what works and what doesn't.

Clower suggests that one should end their meals with a small chunk of cheese, a little wine and a tiny square of dark chocolate. When you do this you dont find yourself snacking so much in between meals. I can tell you this is so true. A couple of nuts, a tiny dice of cheese, a boiled egg, it all helps stabilize blood sugar and helps one with feeling full. I have never been a lover of fat free cheese or fat free salad dressings. This book will give you the freedom to eat full fat foods again and love the flavor of it again. Clower stresses watching the calories too which is what Ive been doing.

There's one basic thing though that Clower says the French owe their health to and that I have not totally managed to accomplish, well maybe not even half way accomplish, and that is to eat most of my food in its real form. I have tried this many times in the past and never really managed to do it. But in the past I didn't manage to lose weight either and this year I have.

So this coming year I am going to continue to count calories but I am going to rev up a few things in my diet. I'm upping my calories to 1400, adding exercise three times a week, drinking water, and above all I am going to eat foods in their real form. My focus will be on whole grains, fish, veggies, fruits, quality breads, quality dairy products, nuts, and lots of clear water. Believe it or not the French are said to drink coffee all day long. I qualify there in a big way.

The real reason one has to watch calories on this diet is because of the use of whole fats but with the fats comes appetite control so its not that bad. Without the fats Im always hungry and its a vicious cycle.

So while I focused on calories only this year I did gravitate toward whole foods just because they are lower in calories but I really didn't change other areas. Now that the calories are pretty much old hat and I can tell from a glance what I'm doing I now have the groundwork laid to move on and add a few more good habits. I have another year and a half until I'm 50 and when I reach that age I hope to be fit and healthy. I started this diet with 2 years and five months until I reached 50. I was 102 lbs above where I wanted to be. I hope to end this year with a 50 pound loss and only have 52 pounds to lose in the next year and five months.

I'm feeling confident I can do this.

So with the New Year coming up I am facing a new diet year. I am not in a race or a competition. Im willing to just plug away at this to get where I want to be. Habits do not form overnight. So I steadily plow onward.


  1. I definitely see a need to "finish" a meal. I always have something that I would consider dessert either fruit, yogurt, ice cream, etc. If I don't finish my meal, I'm looking for snacks sooner than I would otherwise.

    Hang in there...the holidays will be over soon and we can all get back to business.

  2. I am going to see if my library has this book as well. I have been going upward for a while now, well since my dh got chronic illness. I weighed in and I had gained another 4 pds I am 8 pds away from my original weight and I just can't pull myself together. I am and have been on high stress since dh's diagnosis. And in the two weeks since his amputation I have totally not been able to focus at all and have made the worst food choices. I am sooo glad that
    1. you called of weigh in's for the moment
    2. for your blog because it really does help even if for the moment I am having a hard time focusing.
    Thank you again for letting us along on your journey and for showing us that when it comes to weight loss you do need to change things around from time to time as your body gets used to what you are doing. You neeed to catch it off guard.
    Oh I'm from Germany and I have been to France and I can tell you that I don't recall any fat French although I do recall a few that were rude, lol. Also they do drink really good red wine everyday and still don't gain weight.

  3. Hi! I've been a lookey loo for a while but have never posted (for some bizarre reason I don't know). HOWEVER, this post describes my life! I wached calories for eons and didn't lose weight. I tried every diet known to man and didn't loe weight. I finally cut out ANYTHING processed and only eat whole foods and have lost 45 lbs. I'm sold :) I think you'll love it! I have a ton of recipes and cookbook recommendations if you would like!

  4. Hi Mrs. Darling -
    I love your blog and read almost everyday. I am an American mom of 4 who is an expat in France having lived in Paris for almost 4 years. I can tell you that it is very true - there are almost NO fat French people! They really do eat food in a more natural state - I shop at my open market 2-3 times/week and there aren't nearly the amount of processed foods in the stores. They drink coffee all day, but would never think of putting milk in the coffee after noon, and the cups are the tiny little espresso cups. Yes, they do end their meals with the cheese course as well and drink red wine. The 2 other big differences are that for the most part they still eat the biggest meal at noon - most stores in our area shut down for 2 hours at lunchtime so people can really enjoy the noon meal. The other big difference is that in general the French get a lot more exercise. I rarely drive - always walk to the market, bank, boulongerie, catch the metro, walk the kids to school, etc. Not very many people belong to a gym per say, but tend to just get exercise through daily activities.
    Bonne Fetes!

  5. Oh boy, okay Im convinced. This is just the encouragment I need to continue this journey. Whole foods it is!!

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