If French women don’t get fat, in general, it’s because, over a week’s worth of meals, they have probably had only a small amount of desserts, breads and cheeses and focused on vegetables, fruits and unprocessed foods. If there is one golden rule of typical French eating habits, it consists of eating a little bit of everything in moderation in order to revel in great food but keep a lid on weight gain.
Another cornerstone of the French eating culture is the big family lunch on Sundays or holidays. All the usual culinary delights make an appearance: four-course meals are standard (starter, main meal, cheese course and dessert) with, of course, great wine and bread from the local bakery.
Even the most figure-conscious French woman will taste a bit of everything at these meals. Then, to counterbalance a run of excess, she turns to her secret weapon – which she probably picked up from her mother or grandmother. Substituting homemade vegetable soup for a meal or two, and particularly in the evening, is not a matter of officially dieting, deliberate deprivation or “detoxing”: it’s more about balancing out the week’s calorie intake to keep the national pleasure principle intact. This way, “indulging”, within reason, can remain a part of everyday life.
In my case, I learned what I know about French detox from my mother-in-law, Carmen. She used to whip up her favorite soup recipe alongside any given Sunday lunch or holiday meal. That way, it was ready. Vegetable soup, followed by a plain yogurt, for a couple of days and she was back on track! She maintained an enviable figure throughout her life.
Carmen’s Vegetable Soup