French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

Ahh, to be French!

About French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano: Stylish, convincing, wise, funny, and just in time: the ultimate "non"-diet book, which could radically change the way you think and live - now with more recipes.French women don't get fat, even though they enjoy bread and pastry, wine, and regular three-course meals. Unlocking the simple secrets of this "French paradox" - how they enjoy food while staying slim and healthy - Mireille Guiliano gives us a charming, inspiring take on health and eating for our times.For anyone who has slipped out of her Zone, missed the flight to South Beach, or accidentally let a carb pass her lips, here is a positive way to stay trim, a culture's most precious secrets recast for the twenty-first century. A life of wine, bread - even chocolate - without girth or guilt? "Pourquoi pas?"

My thoughts

The book in one sentence: French women love life and it shows in their svelte figures ... because of this book's practical insights, advice and easy recipes.

Funnily, I first read Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother's Tokyo Kitchen because one, I'm Asian and I thought I could better relate to this, and two, I love Japanese food. But it's pretty obvious that this was a spin-off from the wildly successful French Women Don't Get Fat which I now have read twice!

I am so averse to dieting that while I inwardly cringe when I can't button my favourite pants anymore, I have never ever withheld food from myself. I have always eaten what I wanted. And I mean anything - from chocolate to ice cream to roast pork. And the anti-dieting stance of this book is what appealed to me most. Maybe I was French in my past life?

I found Guiliano's own experience heartening. She went through a fatty period in her life when she went to the US and sadly acquired bad eating habits. She was called a "sack of potatoes" by her own father! She sought out help from a doctor she calls Dr. Miracle and she was successfully was able to get down to her ideal weight and maintain it.

She outlines a four-phase plan to getting to your ideal weight, which is done over several months (length of time depends on the person) through a subtle but conscious shift in eating patterns:
  • Wake up call!
  • Recasting 
  • Stabilisation phase
  • "The rest of your life" 

Much of Guiliano's advice is common sense. And I can't disagree with having some good dark chocolate once in a while!
  • Small portions of quality food and savouring what you eat ... no eating on the go!
  • Drinking more water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Preparing your own meals is key - enjoying the process of finding ingredients, preparing dishes however simple they may be
  • Exercise built into everyday activity which includes walking more, taking the stairs
  • Never ever go on a diet because it develops an adversarial attitude towards food, rather than food being something to enjoy 
Guiliano packs a punch with her charming anecdotes of eating in France and the US, her own life experiences (and a few of her friends'), as well as personal recipes along with all this good advice. However, she doesn't really mention anything about nutritional advice, although she advocates for variety. And there is little discussion on emotional eating (which admittedly I am guilty of).

French Women Don't get Fat has been wildly successful and Guiliano has widened her discussions beyond food, to balancing work and life, looking good ... ala Francais.

Verdict: Food isn't simply about controlling what we eat, it's a lifestyle choice.

Check out this sensible French woman's website:

I like this short talk by Mireille:


  1. This is exactly the type of book that I need to read, with the summer quickly approaching. I got married last fall and spent all of last year dieting to fit into my dress. Once I got home from the honeymoon I quit smoking and have put back on 20 pounds. I'm tired of being in despair because of this and need to read a book that has a healthy take on keeping trim, minus the dieting. Thanks for this review, I look forward to reading this book.

  2. Hi Peachy, the non-diet mantra really appealed to me. It seems that with all the changes you are going through, a diet is the last thing you need! Enjoy the book, and have fun doing it the French way!

  3. I totally agree with this approach. It's never good to have "off limit" food because it makes you crave it more. As long as you eat healthy portions and exercise, nothing should go wrong!


© guiltless readingMaira Gall