Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Discoveries

It's been a week of discoveries - nice ones - and it makes you think. We get into life and get used to our lives and if, like me, you're heading towards your last birthday in your forties, you get to thinking that there are no surprises left, least of all any that might be coming from inside you.

And then you discover something that you can do, and all of a sudden you start questioning the person you are. Who you have been hasn't been all that you can be. Who you may turn out to be, may be someone very different from what you imagined.
New horizons have opened up with virgin territory to travel. Who said life isn't exciting?

Of the stuff I've been reading this week, one of the new discoveries came from the book 'French Women Don't Get Fat'. Its one of those books that's taunted me from the bookshop shelves for a few years, and after going to France earlier this year and observing that in comparison to Australia and the UK that indeed, there were very few fat women, I gave into my curiosity and got it from the library.

Its a very elegant and kind philosophy and the author, Mireille Giulliano, shares my abhorrence of gyms, so there was a kind of 'sista' thing happening from the start.
Anyway, one of the tenets of the philosophy is that one obtains maximum enjoyment from food and beverages only in the first three or four sips or bites, and that after that we're only continuing to eat or drink because there is more there. She posits that we should half the portion on our plate and see if that would suffice.

Immediately I was cynical, not least because I have a real fear of being hungry, partly because of the physical pain involved in hunger, partly because to leave food on one's plate was seen as a great sin when I was growing up, and partly because, well, I don't know. Maybe in a past life I was poor or lived in a famine area.

But, I tried her theory, and bugger me, it worked. It was true. If I ate slowly, even half of the food on my plate was completely sufficient to satisfy my hunger. And it doesn't stop there because she insists that in eating as a good French woman one should always have dessert - just a little, but something sweet, even if it is fruit and yoghurt. My god! Dessert on a regular basis was banned from my psyche many many years ago, and yet she's right - it puts a kind of full stop after the savoury meal, finishing it like the end notes provide a resolution for the symphony.

Same with wine. She insists that it is a good thing to have one or two glasses of (preferably red) wine with dinner, which I do, but to try only half filling the glass and having more pours. Same amount of wine or even less, but the multiple pouring tricks the mind into thinking its had more. By god, again it works.

These simple techniques along with increasing one's fruit and veggie intake, and that moderation means denying yourself nothing as long as you have a little of it, sets up a lifetime of healthy eating and a different relationship to food.

My husband does most of the cooking in our house. He's very good at it but sometimes I feel guilty for all that work he puts in. Truth is,over the years I had lost my connection to cooking.

It was a nightly chore filled with resentment as the lazy ex would see me come home from work while he, jobless and flat out on the couch would enquire 'whats for dinner?'as I made my way directly from the front door to the kitchen. It was all I could do not to hit him with a frying pan.

The act of cooking, which should have been a pleasurable, good and nurturing thing, was like a black lump in my chest and I only did it because my dad and son also needed dinner.

Now I'm involved in Ms Giulliano's philosophy, the pleasure is returning. We went to the Adelaide market yesterday (first time in 6 years for me) where I bought up big on the organic veggie stall, and got real pleasure in the feel of a pumpkin and the smell of freshly dug carrots. I bought fish and cooked it for tea and actually felt part of the process - re-engaged.

To retrain ones body and mind in this philosophy - or 'recast' as the author puts it - isn't an overnight thing. Ms Giulliano suggests that it takes a minimum of three months, the key being to have a little discipline, and to be kind to oneself.

And that's the part of it I like most. Kindness in some areas has been relegated to second place, and it's wonderful to see it making its way back to the top of the list.

Have a great week and bon appetit!


  1. Wow. Now there's something I very much have the inclination to try. Especially as kindness, that gentle but firm discipline, and mindfulness are top of the priorities here. It already feels like it fits, in a non-verbal way. Thanks for this, Maggie :-) x

  2. sounds great - this post is very "julie and Julia" hehe - may give this a go myself xxx