It used to frustrate me no end how few diet-friendly foods I could buy at my local Monoprix. After a rather indulgent November of non-stop eating (we wittily nicknamed the month Gros-vembre) I turned to my old friends: low-fat and low-calorie for help.
But, unlike the supermarkets of my home country, France was decidedly lacking in these two categories. Healthy convenient snack foods were virtually non-existent.
And then I looked at breakfast cereals. Sugar ruled in this category, and even the Special K had devilishly tempting curls of chocolate added, almost as if someone had crumbled a few Cadbury flake bars through it.
Sourcing good quality, wholemeal bread was tough, and it seemed in the cheese category my options were limited to full fat or give up entirely. (This incidentally, is quite reflective of the take-it-or-leave-it attitude to customer service prevalent in France.)
Needless to say, this diet didn’t last long. I didn’t lose much, if any weight and I did gain a whole range of other unwanted things.
Like a constant feeling of deprivation, leading to rather unsightly displays outside bakery windows as I struggled against temptation. Or the rather limited social life I could lead, as ordering coca light and crudités is a great way to socially ostracise yourself in the gastronomic capital of the world.
I quite quickly realised that this was not a city designed for dieters, at least not the way I understood dieting. And that as long as temptation lurked on every street corner, I’d never be rail-thin in Paris.
Suddenly, faced with a foie gras and fromage-free future, those extra 5 kilos didn’t seem so scary. Paris is uninterested in low-calorie, low-taste versions of delicious food, and if I was going to stay here, I’d better get comfortable with that.
Read more about the French approach to food and diets.
Breakfast cereal image courtesy of Like_the_Grand_Canyon on Flickr
Bakery image courtesy of travelingmacmahans on Flickr.
Coca light image courtesy of rien nothing on Flickr.