Bon appetite: how living in France has changed my eating habits

So I am officially three months behind in blogging about my study abroad experience in Nantes.  I suppose I’ve been too busy eating French baguettes, tasting new cheeses, and soaking up the beauty of living in a completely new place to spend time blogging about it.  

 Speaking a different language and living with a host family has opened up my eyes to new ways of living and interacting.  One of the greatest parts of my experience in France has been having the chance to live with a host family. Eating with a French family has greatly impacted the way in which I consume and view food.  Since I’ve arrived in France, I’ve become much more mindful of the foods I am putting in my body.  This doesn’t mean that I am restricting what I am eating, rather I am just more conscious of how and what I eat.   

Below are 3 important lessons I have learned about food while living in France:

Eating is about quality not quantity - In France there is a large emphasis on preparing and consuming food that is flavorful, rich, and fresh.  Eating with a French family has helped me to begin consuming smaller portions of quality food.   For example, I now only eat three meals a day.  I used to snack on a lot of cheap and easy foods such as chips, granola bars, cereal, and cookies. Here I rarely snack in between meals.  When I do decide to eat, I make sure that I am eating foods rich in vitamins, protein, fiber, and flavor. 

Eating is a social activity- In France, I’ve had some of my most meaningful and interesting conversations at the dinner table.   The French use meal time as a way to connect with others.  Each Saturday and Sunday, my host family prepares a large meal to be shared by each member of the family.  This past Easter Sunday, we spent 2 ½ hours at the dining room tasting delicious cheeses and wines.  In making the meal experience not just about consuming food, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for the value and importance of meal time, which has in turn helped me to stop over eating.

Eating is a cultural and artistic experience - Eating is very important to French culture.  While food chains do exist in France, the French make a pointed effort to slow down and enjoy their meal times.  For them, food creates new opportunities to explore different tastes, textures, and smells. By viewing eating as a cultural and artistic expression, I take more time to be present and appreciative of what I am putting my mouth. 

Living in France has given me a whole new level of respect for the food that I put in my body.   I’ve learned that when I sit down with friends and family and enjoy a well prepared meal, I am much more content than when I sit in my room alone eating a bag of chips.  

Since I have arrived in France my enjoyment in the food I eat has significantly increased AND I have lost fifteen pounds.  My experience has taught me that it is possible to enjoy food and eat mindfully at the same time. 

Stay posted for new blog posts to come.   I hope to post some new recipes/interviews with one of France’s master chefs, Pascal Roy (my host father)