How do you eat: Are you French or American?

A Self-Love reflection from Liz

I love that even though I have fallen off the wagon hundreds of times, I’ve gotten back up every single time. I am learning to take every negative occurrence and every challenge in life as a stepping stone to grow from the inside. We are presented with challenges in order to learn life’s lessons. If everything went perfect all the time, we would be content with a lackluster life.

I’ve working on learning to appreciate my body for the things it DOES and not the way it LOOKS. This body gets me through hours of workouts each week, free of injury! I can’t think of any other machine that actually gets BETTER the harder you work it. I have to learn to be thankful for my body, and it will thank me in return.

When you eat, do you actually intentionally eat?

I woke up this morning to a post by MrsFatAss (I love this women more than a man who can dance). She talked about eating. I like to talk about eating. I like to talk about food. More importantly, I like to think of my journey in finding a new love and passion with food and how I enjoy it.

We are a family of eaters on the run. While most of our meals are actually taken together, my two year old doesn’t sit for long and eats most of her food walking around. My son sits well with us, but inhales his food and talks the whole time. My husband and I both eat fast, usually while taking a work call or driving a kid somewhere or cutting a kid’s food into pieces or studying BIOLOGY flashcards. And while I am clearing away the dishes and shuffling everyone off to activities or homework or bathtime I take mindless bites of food left on plates, because I very rarely feel full or satisfied after a meal.

Yes. I said it. I very rarely feel either full or satisfied. I sometimes feel stuffed, because I’ve eaten so fast or so mindlessly that the only thing that cues me to stop is that feeling that there’s just no more room. And satisfied? Nevah. I can’t remember the last time I actually savored a meal, considered the flavors, appreciated the textures, taken in the atmosphere. And I’m a foodie! Seems like EVERY meal should be a real experience for me.

Do you feel like you need one of these?

MrsFatAss has me thinking?

  • Do you sit down to eat?
  • Do you sit in front of a computer? TV?
  • Are you actually hungry when you eat?
  • Do you stop when you’re satisfied and not FULL?
  • Do you actually enjoy what you’re eating?

There was this book

And this articleStop when full? You much be French’

In deciding when it’s time to push away from the table, it seems that the French may be responding to different eating signals than Americans. In a recent study, researchers from my Cornell Food Lab asked 133 participants from Paris and 145 from Chicago to complete a brief survey on their food habits, posing the question “How do you know when you are through eating dinner?”The Parisians said they knew they were through when they no longer felt hungry or when the food no longer tasted good to them. Their answers suggested that they’re influenced by internal cues — whether they liked the taste of the food or whether they wanted to leave room for a later dessert — to tell them dinner’s over.

In Chicago, it was a different ball game. The 145 Americans relied on external cues of satiety. They said they knew they were through eating when they cleaned their plate, when everyone else at the table was finished or when the TV show they were watching was over.

The Americans were more influenced by their environment than whether they were actually still hungry. Since most of the signals in our society, from TV commercials to our best friends, tell us to “eat, eat, eat,” it can be difficult to control intake if we’re ignoring our own bodies.

WE ARE NOT LISTENING TO OUR BODIES! How could we? We’re constantly being thrown around from work, trying to squeeze in fitness, TV, blogging, school, laundry, etc. We are constantly on the go and what suffers is our ability to actually listen to ourselves.

I usually eat my meal on my bed in front of twitter, shoveling it in and then like MrsFatAss looking for something else. However, today I actually stopped. I said a prayer a moment of reflection. Switching gears to be present in eating. Listening to my body and being honest with myself in knowing that I could and AM present.

So, how do you eat? Do you feel like MrsFatAss? How do you enjoy food?

21 thoughts on “How do you eat: Are you French or American?

  1. Becky says:

    Mish- this was great! One of the very reasons I fantasize about living abroad with my family is because the American way of living seems perpetuated with ‘on the go’ food and dining. I long for seistas, long bike rides in the countryside with a backpack full of water, baguettes, cheese and butter.

    • Mish says:

      When I first moved to Australia I always thought to myself ‘does anyone have a deep sense of urgency?’ But, now I’ve come to love long lazy Sundays and hanging out with people. It’s great.

  2. julie says:

    Usually I enjoy my food, though I don’t eat slowly, and tend to eat in front of tv or computer or reading (I live alone, bored). I am more like the French, at some point, usually quicker than I’m expecting, I just don’t feel like eating anymore, so I stop, take rest home for another meal. I make two meals (sometimes 3) out of about everything I eat at a restaurant. At home, I put an appropriate amount on my plate, and I eat that. If I’m hungry again later, there’s fruit. I don’t overeat often, just on holidays or special occasions when things taste so good, or are things I don’t run into often. Definitely not how I was raised, or how I ate until not too long ago.

  3. gemfit says:

    I’m so excited about getting our outdoor furniture on Thursday because I miss sitting at a table to eat. We have no dining area in our *tiny* apartment so we sit on the couch or on the floor. But that said, I stop when I’m full. If I don’t, I get sick. My stomach shuts off and then I’m done.

    I grew up sitting at a table with the family for dinner. We had to sit together and eat and only after dinner could we watch tv. No watching TV at the table (except during breakfast and that was on an old black and white tv, which explains why I thought cartoons were only in black and white) and family dinners were the norm. I miss them.

    • Mish says:

      I LOVE family dinners. When I have a family, I really want to strive to implement this. I think it’s incredibly important.

  4. Antonia says:

    I always eat while I’m doing something too (unless I’m out for dinner with friends). I don’t like “just eating” when I’d rather be multi-tasking.

  5. MizFit says:

    I laugh that people are constantly lecturing me about the importance of family dinners (we dont do them. child is asleep when husband is finally released from work around 8).

    I think we americans get caught up in SPECIFICS (even when we dont do it. amazing how the number of people lecturing me dont do the family dinners but thats a whole ‘nother coment) as what we do is a family breakfast.


    no handhelds no tv no anything but the fam.

    and yeah.
    I adore the fatass too 🙂

  6. MrsFatass says:

    I am loving the Fatass love. And Mish? I was totally expecting this post to be about sex. But eating? Totally the next best thing. You wrote it better than I did.

  7. Musings of a Housewife says:

    I am learning to eat like I’m French. With the help of Dinneen at Eat Without Guilt, I have learned to eat intentionally and thoughtfully. I am so much more satisfied, I eat much less and much more nutritiously than I used to. I rarely eat standing up, at the computer, in the car or while reading. I sit down at the kitchen table, and eat my food with no distractions, and it has made a WORLD of difference.

    • Mish says:

      “I rarely eat standing up, at the computer” I was late night snacking tonight..standing up at the pantry and kitchen. Then you jumped into my head. I sat down. Was satisfied and then went to bed. Thank you. It’s going to be my focus this week. It will help HEAPS.

  8. love2eatinpa says:

    great articles, thanks for sharing!
    i’m trying really hard, after 30+ years of eating compulsively whether i was hungry or not, to tune in to my body to listen to it’s hunger cues. it’s quite an adventure and more often than not, i can pull it off. it’s kind of empowering.

  9. All Women Stalker says:

    First, I want to say that I love the self-love reflection from Liz. It’s so true. The times when you pick yourself up are more important than the times you fall.

    Second, regarding food. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to enjoy food. I just work and sleep, work and sleep. And exercise. But I’m not getting the nutrition I need. And that wonderful sense of coming together with people when we share a meal.

  10. faintstarlite says:

    I’ve intentionally tried to make myself eat at the table more. It’s certainly not something that happens for all meals (I often find myself using a little lap tray, catching up on DVR’d shows) … but it makes a big difference when I pay attention and enjoy my food, rather than inhale it.

    • Mish says:

      It does. I also notice that if I intentionally breathe between meals, esp. when I am hungry or I feel the binger coming back, I can stop it in it’s tracks and actually enjoy that I am eating.

  11. Reluctant Blogger says:

    The hardest thing, I think, is creeping portion sizes. I naturally eat fairly small quantitiies. but if I give myself a big portion I will eat it. I have to really concentrate to know when I am full. I often eat and then feel sick afterwards because I have eaten too much. Then of course I veer the other way – give myself too little and am still hungry. So stupid. If the voice which told me I was full could just speak a little more loudly.

    As children we were not permitted to snack or eat on the run. We only ate at mealtimes at a table. And that has kind of been ingrained in my soul cos I rarely eat between meals even now.

  12. eaternotarunner says:

    I LOVE food and try to savor my meals when possible. However I am definitely guilty of eating in front of the computer or TV, I guess its just a fact of life!

  13. Dinneen @ Eat Without Guilt says:

    Having lived in France for over 5 years, I can totally relate to the article you mentioned, and the book.

    I was also lucky enough to interview (in person) another researcher (who also works with Pierre Chandon, who conducted the study in the link you mentioned) on the different ways the French and Americans eat and feel full. I’m SO PASSIONATE about this I’m thinking of writing my own book!

    And I LOVE that another person who left a comment here (Musings of a Housewife) who worked with me learned to eat thoughtfully and intentionally,….and as a result she is “so much more satisfied, I eat much less and much more nutritiously than (she) used to.”

    Yay! I love how my life experience, education, AND experience living in France helps change other people’s lives. Living in France and seeing the way they eat and feel full definitely changed mine!

    • Mish says:

      I remember having two French students living w/ me while I was living with Americans. They didn’t sit in front of their computers all day long. They were outside chatting, eating ‘fat laden’ carbonara. And they were skinny. It was so much more about who they were with, then what they weren’t with. I just really enjoyed watching and observing them. The comment from Jo-Lynne stuck with me and it’s something that will be in the forefront of my brain this week and throughout my process of getting myself right. So thanks!

  14. Gina Fit by 41 Maybe 42 says:

    My husband was born and raised in France. They do take their meals seriously. Danny said they had a two-hour lunch break for school. The whole country had a two-hour lunch break. He jokingly says that’s the best time to attack France because all the military stops to eat, too. He said even the military food was good.

    It’s intimidating when my in-laws visit. They expect the 7-course, 2 hour meals here in America, too.

    I have that book, btw.

    • Mish says:

      That’s pretty funny. The French also have the lowest rate of obesity in the world…or around the lowest. I would love to have a 2 hour lunch break. They’re onto something.

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