There's a new French Paradox. Once it was all about how the French could eat cheese and drink red wine and still have lower rates of heart disease than us here in the UK.
Now new research shows that the French know far less about food labels, take little notice of calories and grams of fat in food, and yet are slimmer as a nation compared with Americans who are avid label readers. So what it is that helps French women and men to keep their waistbands in better condition than ours?
You just need to learn a few tricks of the trade.
The first of these is to give up dieting and start enjoying the food you eat. Here are another top ten tips, which help to explain why the French have obesity levels that are half that of the UK:
o Eat three meals a day. However much of a hurry you are in, however much you insist you haven't got the time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner – make it.
o Always sit down when you eat your meal, preferably with friends and family but definitely not while watching TV, in front of the computer, in the car or on the run.
o Don't snack between meals. If you do have to – have fruit or a handful of nuts or seeds.
o Make your meals from fresh ingredients when you can.
o Always choose foods you like. Meals should be a pleasure not a penance.
o Don't count calories – just savour every mouthful. The more slowly you eat and the more you chew, the less you tend to eat.
o Enjoy the whole experience of your meal. Lay the table, use nice plates and glassware and make it an occasion.
o You can have chocolate. Treat it as a 'normal, food and just have the odd square of good quality 70% cocoa chocolate rather than a massive bar of milk or white chocolate.
o Enjoy the odd glass of wine for dinner.
o Take every opportunity you can to be active. Climb the stairs rather than taking the lift, walk don't drive whenever realistic to and just start moving your body more. Carrying a pair of flat shoes where ever you go makes this practical if you always where heels in public. You don't have to slog it out in the gym to get fitter.