This 4th of July, I am blessed to be spending a few days across the world in Paris. Last night I was out walking through the streets in the Marais seeing people in restaurants enjoying food and drinks far past midnight. It’s a typical sight I have seen many times when I have been in Paris or other places in France: The French people spend hours eating and drinking per day!
To be exact: French spend on average 2 hours and 13 minutes a day drinking and eating, compared to Americans who spend 1 hour per day eating and drinking.
Spending twice the amount of time eating, I might think that people in France would be more obese than in countries who spend less time eating. However, France has a much lower obesity rate than many other countries (1/3 of America's rate)!
There are many reasons why spending hours eating and drinking per day doesn’t affect the French people’s weight negatively (e.g. portion control: a croissant in Paris is one ounce, while in Pittsburgh it’s two). But one of the most important reasons is the French don’t just eat for hours, instead they spend hours eating while sharing meals with friends and family. They eat and talk, and talk and eat, and then talk and talk and talk. Their eating habits are not just to fill their bodies with calories, but as part of a social network that supports the health of the person eating in many other ways than food. People laugh, share how they are feeling, and what’s on their mind. They are creating friendships and deepening their connection and sense of well-being by eating.
I hope you are enjoying meals with family and friends on today’s holiday. When I return to my home in California, I’ll be taking this piece of insight the French reminded me of: how eating with others creates more health. May it inspire you too.