Health Lessons from an Elderly French Couple


My aunt and I were sitting in a quaint French bistro in Paris last Wednesday night. The tables were inches apart, mid-meal bathroom breaks were not possible, and there was no English menu to help us order. But it was just what we wanted – traditional and unapologetically French. As American women commonly do, we shared a few plates and made ourselves feel better about only eating half of the indulgent French food. Even through sharing, we still left dinner feeling a little too full.

Shortly after we ordered our drinks, an elderly French couple was seated right next to us. Both the woman and man were nicely dressed for a dinner out, and both seemed to be in good physical shape, especially for 80+ years old. They each ordered a glass of red wine to start. Then we noticed the man was served a small main dish of suckling pig in lentils. The woman was served 2 thick slabs of foie gras with toast. Both ate their meals slowly, sipped on their one glass of wine throughout the whole meal, and left shortly before we did.


After dinner, we discussed how interesting it was for us to see a woman order a whole plate of foie gras to herself, as her main course. We ate foie gras as well, but we shared it of course, as we have learned to do when eating something so fattening. And we ate it as an appetizer, because that it what it is traditionally known as.

But this woman, she ordered exactly what she wanted. She wanted foie gras as a main dish, and she didn’t care that it was fattening, and she didn’t care that it was meant to be an appetizer to a main meal. She knew that one plate would fill her up and that’s all she needed. She enjoyed it slowly, paired it with one glass of wine, and went on her merry way, probably feeling a lot better than we did. Her husband did the same – he ordered a small main dish without feeling the need to order an appetizer, and he ate just the right amount that he needed.


It was a good reminder to order exactly what you want, and savor every bite. And if you want something indulgent, you don’t have to share it! You can eat the whole darn plate to yourself. So often we try to stick to certain “rules” and “norms” that we are accustomed to, such as ordering an appetizer before a main when we are out to eat. Or sharing something because you don’t want to feel guilty about eating the whole plate by yourself. Or leaving some food on the plate to feel like you’ve “saved” yourself a few calories.

Ya, foie gras might not be the most nutritionally complete meal, but when you eat something that you are truly craving in the amount that is right for your body, you are giving your whole self what it needs, not just the nutrients that it needs. Satisfaction is good for the mind and soul, as well as prevents overeating. Calories, nutrition, and fat grams don’t matter all the time, ok?


Glad we settled that.

What can you eat today that will benefit your whole self??

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