When it comes to the French lifestyle, there’s no shortage of myths and clichés that surround it. From the notion that all French women smoke to the belief that their diet consists solely of bread and cheese, it can be hard to decipher what’s fact from fiction. 

But one thing is for sure: French women have a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to staying slim. Despite having access to some of the world’s most decadent foods, they manage to maintain their figures without resorting to extreme diets or rigorously exercise regimes. 

French women have a reputation for being effortlessly chic, and part of that allure is their seemingly innate ability to stay thin. It’s no secret that the French diet is filled with indulgent foods like cheese, bread, and wine, so how do they manage to maintain a slim figure?

Based on a study conducted by The Lancet in 2011, French men are considered to be the thinnest in Europe with a BMI of 26, followed by French women who come in second with a BMI of 25, tied with the Italians and ahead of the Swiss. Despite a rise in obesity rates worldwide, including in France, the French are not gaining weight at the same rate as other nationalities.

In contrast to the obesity rate of 36% in the United States in 2021, France’s obesity rate is at 21% (source). Therefore, France is recognized as one of the leading countries with low obesity rates, surpassing countries such as the United States, Australia, and Canada. Nonetheless, France is not entirely immune to the global obesity epidemic.

For years, people have been wondering how French women maintain their slim figures. It is common to attribute this to the unhealthy French habit of smoking. However, the reality is quite different. While smoking rates among French women are significantly higher than their American counterparts, smoking is not the reason behind their slim figures.(source)

It has been proven that smokers tend to weigh less on average than non-smokers, but not all smokers are thin. Heavy smokers even tend to weigh more than light smokers. In fact, a study conducted by the International Agency for Cancer Research in 2018 showed that an increase in cigarettes smoked per day was linked to a larger waist circumference and more abdominal fat. (source)

So, what’s their secret? In this post, we’ll explore the 10 healthy lifestyle habits that contribute to how French women stay slim. From their love of fresh, seasonal produce to their belief in the power of portion control and mindful eating, we’ll reveal the strategies they use to maintain a healthy weight and live a balanced life. 

Get ready to be inspired by the French approach to health and wellness, and learn how you too can adopt some of their habits into your own life.

1. They Eat Slowly and Mindfully

First up, French women eat slowly and mindfully, savoring each bite and enjoying the company of others. This helps them feel fuller faster and prevents overeating. They also control their portions, choosing quality over quantity, and opt for small, flavorful meals instead of bland, large ones. They also control their portions, choosing quality over quantity, and opt for small, flavorful meals instead of bland, large ones.

2. Walking is One of Their Priorities

Walking is another key to the French woman’s lifestyle. They walk everywhere – to the market, to work, and to meet friends. Walking is a low-impact activity that burns calories and improves cardiovascular health.

3. They Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is also a priority for French women, and they tend to drink a lot of water throughout the day. This helps keep them feeling full and reduces the urge to snack between meals.

4. They Take Time to Relax

In addition to physical health, French women also prioritize mental health. They take time to relax and enjoy life, prioritizing self-care activities like reading, taking baths, and spending time with loved ones. Stress can lead to overeating and weight gain, so taking time to relax is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

5. They Cook at Home

Cooking at home is another habit that French women have mastered. This allows them to control the ingredients and portions and enjoy cooking as a creative outlet. They also make meals an occasion, not just about eating but socializing and enjoying the company of others.

6. They Make Meals an Occasion

In France, meals are not just about eating, but they are also about socializing and enjoying the company of others. French women tend to take their time to enjoy their meals and make them an occasion, even if it’s just a simple lunch with friends or family. This not only helps to slow down your eating and savor your food, but it can also help to reduce stress and promote overall well-being.

7. They Focus on Balance and Moderation

French women focus on balance and moderation, which is key to their success in maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. They don’t deprive themselves of foods they love but also don’t overindulge. They eat a variety of whole, nutrient-rich foods while allowing themselves to enjoy treats in moderation.

8. They Embrace a Culture of Wine

In France, wine is not just a beverage, it’s a cultural tradition. French women often enjoy a glass of wine with their meals, and they view it as a way to enhance the flavors of their food and to socialize with others. Moderate wine consumption has been linked to several health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. French women tend to savor their wine, drinking slowly and mindfully, and they choose quality over quantity. So, the next time you enjoy a glass of wine, take a page out of the French playbook and savor it as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

9. They Prioritize Self-Care

Prioritizing self-care is essential for overall health and well-being, and French women tend to do it well. They take time for themselves, whether it’s taking a relaxing bath, practicing yoga, getting a massage, or simply taking some time to unwind.

10. They Prioritize Sleep

Finally, French women prioritize sleep. Getting enough quality sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, and lack of sleep can lead to overeating and weight gain. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night to help promote a healthy weight and lifestyle.


The French lifestyle offers a wealth of healthy habits that can help anyone maintain a balanced and healthy life. From eating slowly and mindfully to prioritizing self-care and getting enough sleep, French women have developed a lifestyle that promotes a healthy body and mind. 

By adopting some of these habits into your own life, you can learn to savor your food, prioritize your health, and enjoy a more balanced and fulfilling life. 

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness, so find what works for you and make it a part of your daily routine. With a little inspiration from the French lifestyle, you too can achieve a healthy and happy life.

French Diet Books