I've been reading the book Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman over the last couple of weeks (takes a long time to get through a book 20-30 minutes at a time!) and have found it really interesting. The author is an American woman living in Paris with her husband (also not French) and raising their daughter. In the book, Druckerman outlines her observations of French parenting in contrast to typical American practices. One of the observations she describes is how French woman (Parisians in particular) tend to be slender, don't gain too much weight during pregnancy, and have regained their figures often by three months postpartum. When she asks the French mothers she knows about how they are able to do this, the explanation is that they "pay attention". When they notice the scale creeping up or clothes not fittings, they pay even closer attention. This approach makes sense to me. Here's my interpretation of "paying attention":
1. Pay attention to food choices. Seems like total common sense. Rather than label foods as "good" or "bad", realize that foods rest somewhere on a spectrum of nutritional value and choose foods on the more nutritional end of the spectrum most of the time. Pay attention to when you choose foods on the lower end so that you can later balance those choices with more nutritious foods.
2. Pay attention while you're eating. We often eat while on the run or while doing other various activities and can polish off a whole meal in minutes without even realizing it. By taking time out and focusing on enjoying our food, we're more likely to be satisfied at the end of a meal or snack. We're probably also less likely to be searching for something else to eat shortly after because we'll remember that we've just eaten and don't need additional fuel.
This might not be exactly what those French women mean by "paying attention", but I think this is a sensible approach to eating that will work for me. It's also a concept that I feel can be applied to other areas of life, but that's a whole other topic!