Download the snazy one pager HERE that has all the 5 principles I’ll be following during the Eat Like a Parisian Challenge!
I would never consider myself a full blown foodie. While I do enjoy eating for pleasure, I’m totally at the mercy of my insatiable hunger. As soon as “Hangry Hank” starts a rumblin’, I know that feeding him just became my #1 priority. Not to mention that refined food has never been my jam. I grew up surrounded by chain diners, cornfields and homemade sloppy joes. When I had the honor of choosing where we ate for dinner on my birthday, Olive Garden was the winner…11 years in a row. Endless breadsticks was literally “my thang.” I may have lived in France for the last 9 years, but I still beg my dad to pop Pillsbury biscuits in the oven when I’m home and I hit up Panera at least twice every trip to devour a bowl of broccoli and cheese soup. I’ve even gone so far as to try and recreate that famous recipe in Paris. #stillafail
That’s not to say I haven’t learned to appreciate more refined food since moving to Paris. Celebrating Robin’s 32nd birthday at La Grand Cascade, an impeccable Michelin stared restaurant tucked into the woods of Bois de Boulogne, was a culinary highlight that my unrefined palette still hasn’t forgotten. Though my favorite memory is still the server placing a tiny cushion next to my chair so that my 30$ Zara purse wouldn’t touch the floor. My purse probably cost less than the space of carpet it would have occupied, but, bref. Even, if the experience was foodgasmic, I’m honestly just as excited about a cheesy crust pizza from Domino’s in my living room, as I am about a five course birthday dinner surrounded by chandeliers from Louis XVI’s summer chateau. I know, I know, it’s slightly shameful, right? But I’ve decided it would be more shameful to lie to you.
When I first moved to France, the French’s relationship with food was not only a mystery to me, it was also glaringly different from what I had ever known. I didn’t understand their desire for never ending meals, the lack of to-go cups, and why the portion sizes were for literal toddlers. I’m not completely immune to my environment, so after nine years here, I’ve certainly picked up a habit or two without trying. I consider yoghurt and fruit a dessert (wtf) and bread is a staple to my diet. I buy a baguette from my neighborhood “boulangerie” six days a week. It would be seven, but they’re closed once a week, so we’re forced to eat, (gasp!), day old bread every Wednesday. But even if you count these small habits, I’m still eating very much like an American. Even if the French, or to be more specific, the Parisian, way of eating is no longer a mystery to me, I’ve never really embraced it….until now.
Today officially marks the day that we launch our “Eat like a Parisian Challenge.” Like every good Parisian, eating is done in good company and this challenge is no different. I’m embarking on it with my sidekick and most favorite New Zealander in the world, Rosie. She’s actually the only New Zealander I know. But shhh, don’t tell anyone. I’m still pretty confident she would be my favorite if I knew others.
A couple weeks ago, Rosie and I were riding the bus to work, sipping on our regular order of Venti Chai Tea Lattes from Starbucks and chatting about how gross we felt after the Christmas holidays. Rosie had flown back to New Zealand for a month to celebrate the holidays, Kiwi style. I’d gone back to the Midwest to celebrate Christmas too, fried food style. All of you expats know that a trip home is a complete wild card to go CRAY CRAY. Some primal instinct has you eating everything and anything in sight. You just never know how long it will be until you can tuck into the box of Kraft macaroni and cheese again or have the chance to slather your bread with Vegemite at your favorite brunch spot in Wellington. Rosie and I have a particularly hard time resisting food when it’s put in front of us, so naturally, we came back to France feeling bloated, unhealthy and a bit more large and in charge than we had before leaving.
I was using a calorie counting app as we were chatting to add my venti Chai Tea Latte to the list of things I had eaten that day.
“Urgghhh,” I whined to Rosie. “I’m so tired of calorie counting and restricting myself to get back on track after I go off the wagon…AGAIN. It’s time consuming, half the time I’m guesstimating the number of calories at a meal because I have no idea what is in my food and it’s about as far from a long term solution as you can get.”
“I know the feeling,” Rosie muttered back. “If only we were Parisian our problems would be solved. Those women are definitely not calorie counting and they don’t seem to be going through the post holiday food blues either. ”
“Yea, if only we were Parisian,” I uttered back and we both chuckled as the bus snaked its way to work and we imagined ourselves, two mainstream english speakers, as chic Parisian goddesses.
This was the turning point for the Eat Like a Parisian Challenge. It didn’t take us long to both come to the same conclusion that just because we weren’t the typical, elegant Parisian, didn’t mean that we couldn’t imitate the Parisian style of eating. We’ve spent a combined total of 14 years in France, I think that’s earned us verteran staus, right?! While we don’t actively participate in the Parisian style of eating, you can’t live in Paris that long and not be aware of the different habits and principles to put in place if we wanted to.
Not to mention that the French way of eating is a completely overanalyzed, over discussed and over scrutizined subject. French Women don’t get Fat: the guide to eating for pleasure by Mireille Guilliano was an instant success and sold over 3 million copies since it’s realease. Mireille explains this mysterious French paradox. How the French manage to eat bread, pastries, drink wine and regularly enjoy 3 course meals, while staying healthy, and sneering at the idea of chaining themselves to a treadmill daily. I have to admit it sounds pretty blissful. So our “Eat like a Parisian Challenge” was officially born.
Rosie and I were determined to follow the 5 principles that dictate a Parisian women’s eating habits and shamelessy document everything to keep us on track. Being the modern day women we are, we needed a digital food journal. One that would not only help us capture our meals, forcing us to be more aware of what we ate, but also help us get back on track when we were swerving from our goals. French women swiftly turn their noses up on calorie counting, so most of the applications we knew to track food were not going to work for this type of challenge. French women eat for pleasure and the way you feel after a meal should be enough of an indicator if you’re on track or not.
We were super pumped when we discovered the food journal app YouAte because it’s not focusing on calorie counting or restrictions. YouAte is designed to help you establish and maintain a healthy eating habit by focusing on your emotional state when you eat. It’s photo based, so you snap a photo of your meal, decide if you are on or off track based on your own personal goals and respond to a couple questions to gauge your emotional state: why you just ate, who you ate with and how you feel aftwerwards. It’s perfect for Rosie and I because not only does it completely jive with the Parisian women’s mindset, it’s flexible based on your personal goals. Rosie wants to see some weight loss from the challenge in order to be a healthier, foxier version of herself. I’m hoping by eating more balanced meals, that I’ll see a change in my energy and a difference in my skin, which has gone off the deep end lately. Youate gives us updates on how close we are to our goals based on if we swipe on or off track throughout the day. It even has reminders for us to snap meals so that we don’t forget. It’s the perfect non-judgmental sidekick for our challenge!
The challenge starts today! You can get the one pager with our 5 principles here! You can also subscribe and follow our monthly updates on Rosie’s Youtube channel “NotevenFrench” and mine “UnintentionallyFrenchified.” We will both be documenting the journey on our Instagram accounts too, “NotEvenFrench” and “UnintentionallyFrenchified,” so come follow us to stay up to date on the challenge!
If you’re interested in food journaling in a new way or are up for joining the challenge with us, download the YouAte App and start journaling! It’s THE foolproof buddy to help make your challenge a success too! If you’ve ever done any type of food challenge and have any tips, don’t hesitate to comment below! I’d love any advice from challenge veterans!
Cheers to embracing our inner French gals for the next three months!