How French women approach self-care
Our French founder & Editor-in-Chief, France (could her name be more French?!) repetitively says she is amazed by the many existing parallels between Ayurveda and wait for it… how French women approach wellness.
As you may have suspected, there are loads of differences between the two diets. Ayurveda recommends limiting our intake of the many gourmandises that are integral to the French diet like wine, cheese, bread, fois gras, saucisson but, to everyone’s surprise, the two cultures’ approaches to eating, self-care and lifestyle are remarkably akin to one another.
We sat down with France and asked her to describe, in details, what she thought the charming French joie de vivre had in common with 5,000 years of ancient wisdom from India. We loved her observations – they pepper the holistic traditions of Ayurveda with an irresistible and effortless je ne sais quoi.
1. Frenchwomen have a laissez-faire approach to wellness
“Contrary to American women who can become obsessed about being healthy to the point that it becomes unhealthy, Frenchwomen take a more relaxed approach onto wellbeing. We believe that working out and eating well should take away our stress, not add to it. Don’t get me wrong, we do care about how we feel and how we look but we also know that it’s unhealthy to fuss about it too much and in trying too hard to be healthy, we can actually disrupt our body’s natural balance and become unwell as a result.” Ayurveda teaches that same non-dogmatic, more relaxed approach to wellbeing.
2. Frenchwomen do excess in moderation and, moderation in excess
“Frenchwomen believe in practicing small yet regular healthy habits that contribute to an overall balanced lifestyle rather than in making drastic, and often exhausting & depleting, 360 changes in their quest to wellness. Compared to cities like NY or LA, we tend to be less extreme, favoring the gentler, more regular varieties of all-day movement like walking to work, biking on weekends or taking the ‘metro’ more often than Ubers — ‘the slow burn’ in American terms.” Ayurveda also teaches ‘moderation in excess’.
3. Frenchwomen don’t deprive themselves
“Contrary to the American ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality, Frenchwomen don’t believe in suffering to be healthy. We believe that if a ‘healthy’ ritual makes us miserable then it must be unhealthy. We don’t go on crash diets, intermittent fasts, juice cleanses or to intense HIIT classes. The popular attitude of seeing "food as fuel" in the American health culture, has no place in the French wellness culture. Born in a culture that prides itself on its culinary traditions & where la ‘joie de manger’ (or joy of eating) is a pillar of the culture, flavor remains non-negotiable, even in healthy food. Every bite and sip is something to be enjoyed and savored.” Ayurveda places that same importance on flavors and taste variety.
4. Frenchwomen control portions
“French women don’t deny themselves treats, however, they are also aware of when to stop. For example, a croissant on Saturday morning doesn’t mean we eat one every day. In general, we eat everything, but in much smaller portions than are served in the US. That applies for all types of foods, including healthy foods. We won’t ever eat a massive steak nor a gigantic bowl of kale salad.” Ayurveda teaches that portion control is at the crocks of a healthy digestion and overall wellbeing.
5. Frenchwomen don’t count calories
“Instead of counting calories, Frenchwomen eat high-quality & flavor-packed foods in small portions. We savor each bite we take and are continuously balancing what we eat throughout the day and week. For example, if we had a heavy meal the night before, we will eat light the next day to give our digestive system a chance to fully digest what is already in the body without bogging it down”. Ayurveda also encourages people to step away from counting calories.
6. Frenchwomen eat local and seasonal
“Similar to where I live in Brooklyn: Cobble Hill, supermarkets are outnumbered by specialty stores in Paris. Most Parisian women shop daily, for fresh local ingredients that are in season. We go to the boulangerie for bread, the fromagerie for cheese, the butcher for meat, the fishery for fish, the patisserie for desserts. These foods don’t contain preservatives, so we are able to avoid heavily processed foods. We also pay attention to the seasons of produce because we know that’s when their nutrient content are highest and, because it’s the more conscious way to grocery shop.” Ayurveda teaches local and seasonal cooking. Read Why eat with the seasons
7. Frenchwomen eat 3 times a day, at regular intervals
“Frenchwomen eat three times a day at regular intervals. We don’t believe in snacking. Contrary to American women, you’ll never see a French women with loads of granola bars (or other snacks) in her bag. Maybe we’ll have an apple but it’s very rare. We know that giving our body a routine around eating is what keeps our metabolism high as it knows when to expect the next meal.” Ayurveda teaches that the body LOVES routine.
8. French women sit down for meals and eat mindfully
“Frenchwomen eat only at the table, only sitting down. Never out of to-go boxes, or in the car, on our way to work. Eating is a social moment that is meant to be shared, rather than spent alone in front of the Netflix. We eat slowly, paying attention to what we are eating, smelling and savoring. Lastly, we chew properly (Ayurveda says that our mouth is like a blender when chewing is the blending action required to make food digestible by our system).” Ayurveda teaches mindful eating.
9. Frenchwomen prefer eating meals in their own homes
“Contrary to New Yorkers, Frenchwomen prefer preparing their own food and eating at home. We eat out for special occasions only as we know that restaurants cook with too much sodium, high fats and lower quality ingredients. Rather than ordering in on a lazy night, we’ll just cook a quick and simple meal. Even dinner parties are a much bigger thing in France. On a Friday night, rather than eating out, you can expect to be invited at your friend’s house for a home-cooked dinner and it’s loads of fun.” Ayurveda favors having control over how meals are cooked & what goes into them.
10. Frenchwomen mimic their elders
“In France, healthy habits are passed down from one generation to the other. The good habits start early where, as kids, we saw our moms shop at the farmers market & local specialty shops, cook most meals at home, take time for themselves outside of their mom duties, take care of their skin, dress in something other than sweatpants, and fuel a romantic relationship with our dads. In India, people are also taught very early on from their mothers & grand mothers who pass down the principles of Ayurveda by cooking meals that are tailored to the family’s different Mind and Body Types and offer the 6 Ayurvedic tastes.”
11. Frenchwomen strive for naturalness, not perfection
“Frenchwomen believe flaws are what makes a person charming, charismatic, beautiful. So much so that French language even has a term ‘jolie laide’, which loosely translates into ‘ugly pretty’, to describe people who are not classically but rather unconventionally beautiful. We strive for being the best version of ourselves at any age, we prioritize skin care over make up, wrinkles over a static botox look and even sometimes, thin hair on thighs over an all-shaved, barbie looking leg.” Ayurveda gives you loads of natural beauty tips.