The French lifestyle is famously laid back. Things move slower here. Initially, my 100 mile-an-hour American self was impatient and annoyed. But as I settled into my French life, I began to realize how wonderful it was to not constantly rush around. Now, my life revolves around food and relaxation – and I don’t even feel guilty about it.
Sound nice? The good news is that you don’t have to move to France to reap the benefits of their way of life. Just give these 4 habits a try and get a little closer to living like a Frenchie.
1. Eat at regular intervals
Ever wonder why French people are generally thinner than their American counterparts even though they’re constantly eating baguette and croissants? The secret is in the schedule.
In France, mealtimes are sacred. You eat breakfast as soon as you get up. Lunch is eaten between 12 and 1:30 pm and dinner is served between 7 and 8:30 pm. If you must have a snack in between, it had better be between 4 and 5 pm, when the French allow for a “petit goûter” (though most often, it’s reserved for small children).
This may seem unnecessarily rigid to the average American, but it’s a great way to lose weight without going on a diet. By training your stomach to expect food at designated times, you won’t feel tempted to snack throughout the day so you can even treat yourself to dessert without feeling guilty.
If you have a hard time stopping to eat at regular intervals, try putting a lunch and dinner alarm on your phone. Even if you’re in the middle of something, the alarm will remind you it’s time to take a break. After awhile, your body will adjust to eating regularly and you won’t need the alarms anymore because you’ll have your hunger pangs to tell you it’s time to eat.
2. Cook more and eat out less
People are always telling me how they just “don’t have time to cook”. Now here’s the thing. Cooking doesn’t have to take longer than ordering in or eating out. Think about how much time you spend driving to the restaurant and waiting for your meal or waiting for the delivery person to arrive. In that amount of time, I’m willing to bet you’d be able to whip yourself up something delicious. And likely, healthier.
The truth is, most people do have enough time to cook. But when you don’t cook regularly, it can seem intimidating. The trick is to make it a habit. When you cook on a daily basis, you no longer feel “too tired” to do it, because it’s just part of your routine.
Try cooking for yourself 4 days a week for a month, and see how you feel. You may find you actually like it. You might even find it relaxing to chop up vegetables and think about nothing in particular.
If you’ve always struggled to eat healthy, cooking for yourself is also a great way to stay on track since you know exactly what you’re putting into your body. Not to mention that you’ll save money. It’s a win-win situation.
3. Limit yourself to one errand on weeknights
Here in France the workday ends at 6pm and most stores close an hour later. If you’re an American you’re probably thinking how inconvenient that is and wondering how people ever get anything done on weekdays. Here’s the answer: they don’t!
When you’ve only got an hour window to run to the store, you have to prioritize since you’ll probably only make it to one place. After that, you’ve got no other choice but to go home and enjoy your evening. Oh man, life certainly is rough.
For this reason, Saturday is the “get-everything-done” day, which means that everyone is at the store at the same time. Can it be frustrating to deal with the crowds? Sure. But I’ll take a couple hours of frustration once a week over rushing around every single night – hands down.
Just because stores are open late in the US doesn’t mean you have to spend your evenings running errands. Try limiting yourself to one a night so you still have time to unwind and spend time with your family and friends. Because most of the time, it really won’t make a difference if you put that trip to Target off until tomorrow.
4. Relax on Sundays
Not only do stores close early here, they also aren’t open on Sundays leaving French people with no choice but to relax. Did I mention how hard life is here?
I know stores are open on Sundays in the US, you’ve got a million things to do, and you feel like if you just got this one thing done, you’ll feel better. But the the truth is, once you’ve gotten that one thing done, they’ll be another thing. And another. And you know what? The world isn’t going to end if you don’t get those AA batteries today.
Make Sunday your fun day again. Do something totally unproductive and self-indulgent. Spend time with those you love. Lay around in your PJs and watch your favorite TV show on Netflix. Do whatever it is as long as it doesn’t involve a to-do list. Because life is more than a series of obligations, and Monday will come soon enough, so give yourself a break.
I challenge you to put these 4 habits to the test for a month or two and see how you feel. What’ve you got to lose?
Can’t wait to hear how it went! Share your experience below.