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Ten Secrets of the Parisian Diet Explained by French Nutritionist

The Parisian Diet

In the spirit of “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen has released a diet program based on French eating habits. The Parisian Diet is based on the long-standing culture and habits of Parisians who love good food and still want to look their best.

It is called the French Paradox. Despite high intakes of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat, France is a country with low coronary heart disease incidence. Obesity rates in France are among the lowest in the world with only about 1 in 10 classified as obese and about 40% considered overweight.

Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen MD PhD, a well regarded nutrition expert in France and the recipient of the French National Order of Merit in 2002, created The Parisian Diet to encourage all to “change your attitude towards food into one that is pleasurable and yet health and sustainable.” This is the key for tackling food issues that result in obesity.

First, says Dr. Cohen, one must find their “Right Weight.” Most BMI tables and Ideal Weight Charts give a person an average weight loss goal based on what is considered the healthiest weight for their height. However, many find these goal weights a little low and therefore get discouraged before reaching their ideal. Dr. Cohen has created his own “Right Weight Calculator,” taking in consideration your own personal measurements at different points in your life, to come up with a starting goal that may or may not bring you to “normal” but will get you on the road toward a healthier weight.

The Right Weight Calculator

A. How much did you weigh when you were 18 years old, without dieting (e.g., 150 lb.)?
B. How much did you weigh at your heaviest, excluding pregnancy weight (e.g., 210 lb.)?
C. How much did you weigh at your lightest after age 18, with or without having dieted (e.g., 140 lb.)?
D. What is your current weight (e.g., 200 lb.)?

Add your results for A and B, and divide their sum by two. This becomes result E. Then, add your results for C and D, and divide their sum by two. This becomes result F. Add E and F and divide this sum by two. This helps you set a realistic weight loss goal. If you can remain at your Right Weight for 6-12 months, you can recalculate your new Right Weight.

The Three Phases of the Parisian Diet

The Parisian Diet is, like most diets, organized by phases with the first being the most strict. Unlike other diet plans, however, Dr. Cohen says you have the freedom to move through each one at your own pace.

1. The Café Phase, an optional and quick kick-start that includes a lot of liquids: smoothies, purees, soups, and beverages such as water, tea, and black coffee. This phase lasts between 8 - 10 days.

2. The Bistro phase will help you slim down while consuming nutrient, fiber, and protein-rich meals over 2-3 weeks.

3. The Gourmet Phase is designed for enjoyment. This phase can be continued until you reach your desired weight or, to speed-up your weight loss, you can alternate with the other phases.

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The Parisian Diet also includes a Recovery Plan in case you encounter cheat days or other dieting pitfalls.

The Top 10 Secrets of the Parisian Diet

1. Enjoy your food
Parisians set a time and place for each meal. They take pleasure from their food and savor every bite. The feeling of satiety gets triggered sooner.

2. Take time to eat
The French will devote at least 20 minutes for their meals in a proper table setting. Do nothing else but eat. Step away from your desk at lunch break, or even wake up an extra 20 minutes earlier to be able to enjoy breakfast.

3. Size matters
French portion sizes are much smaller compared to American servings. They put a premium on flavor, texture, and presentation of their food in lieu of quantity.

4. Don't watch TV while eating
The French prefer to eat in the kitchen or at the dinner table, not in front of the TV. This is because it grabs your attention so you don't realize when you're mindlessly over-eating.

5. Be active
Parisians stay active because it's easy to walk (or bike) to everything. They use the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator. The little things that Americans do to make life easier add up to a huge deficit in activity.

6. Stay fresh
In the French diet, fresh ingredients, locally-grown produce, and quality ingredients are the norm. It is not typical to eat so much processed food there.

7. Drink water
The popular belief that the French enjoy a glass of wine during lunch and dinner is true, but they drink water throughout the day. They do not drink sodas or juices when they are thirsty, but just plain water.

8. React quickly
Being the gourmands that they are, the French allow themselves to enjoy an occasional treat or a big meal. But they try to make up for it with a recovery meal plan and then resume good eating habits.

9. Enjoy cooking
The French love to cook simple recipes with fresh ingredients. It's always the better choice than pre-packaged ready-made meals or getting takeout or delivery, which contain excessive amounts of salt, saturated fats, and trans fats.

10. Rediscover fruits
To the French, food preparation is an essential technique, and that's why fruits and vegetables are never boring. To eat more fruits, the French get creative and make them more appealing by poaching them, baking them, stewing them, or making fruit salads.

In addition to a Facebook page and a Twitter feed for support, the Parisian Diet program also offers a smartphone app to keep you connected to your new French way of life. The Parisian Diet: How to Reach Your Right Weight and Stay There is offered in both hardback and in a Kindle edition on Amazon.com.