Crinkly bags, paper boxes, plastic shrink wrap. The next time you reach to feed your hunger from one of these sources — Stop + think twice.

US media + advertisements have us believing that it’s perfectly normal to have packaged snacks between meals. And so, we eat the snacks that are marketed towards us. But then we’re not hungry for a real meal, and so we reach for yet another snack. It’s a vicious cycle.

How does this cycle affect us? We are constantly hungry, constantly snacking, and constantly thinking about food. The solution is to ditch the packaged foods, and focus on eating real food three times per day.

Eight years ago, I moved to France, where my ravenous snacking habits were quickly corrected. I learned to eat sit-down meals at regular times. It may sound simple, but for me it was a revolutionary concept.

Here in France, there is a sit-down culture, where food is enjoyed and the time is taken to properly appreciate and digest it. Food is not “forbidden” here, and no one is on a diet. You don’t see people snacking on the metro or in public. There’s far less people walking down the street with a coffee cup in hand.

Here, when you see an advertisement for a snack on television, there is a fine print at the bottom telling you to “eviter de grignoter entre les repas” (avoid snacking between meals).

When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense — If you’ve eaten a complete nutritious meal, you should not be hungry for snacks.

Now let’s talk about that meal that I am encouraging you to sit down and eat.

In France, the biggest meal of the day is lunch. It always contains a consequent protein that us Americans would probably categorize as “dinner food.” But by consuming the major protein at lunch, it charges your batteries for the rest of the day and gets you through the next 6-7 hours until dinner. And dinner, in general, is much smaller and lighter, since there are less hours in the day before you go to bed. Again, isn’t this so logical?

Lunches here often include whole grains like quinoa, spelt, and rice, gorgeous colorful veggies like carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, peppers, and cover all food groups. The French actually do eat an appetizer, main course, salad, cheese and dessert, all on different plates! (Well, okay, maybe the salad and cheese are eaten on the same one…)

While cheese is not always eaten at restaurants, most French families usually have it when they are eating at home. It’s a full-fat food that keeps you full and gives you lots of energy. Most importantly, French people respect reasonable portion sizes, and so they come to the end of the meal feeling satisfied, not full.

My favorite go-to recipe for lunch is a super-salad.

This one is made with steak, avocados, cashews, almonds, tomatoes, several different kinds of lettuce, carrots, raisins, and is topped with bleu cheese. It’s topped with a simple homemade vinaigrette dressing made from ⅔ part olive oil and ⅓ part vinegar and a little mustard, salt and pepper. You can mix up your own in a jam jar.

With this salad, all food groups are covered, and the nutrient value in the salad is off the charts. Finish up with an easy nutritious dessert such as a full-fat yogurt with some kiwi, honey and walnuts in it.

Keep away from the packages, and you’ll feel much healthier. I guarantee it!

Meet The Guest Blogger, Julie Fine:

“In Normandy, France, there is a very active kitchen inside an old brick house. Lots of yummy recipes are being made for a little food blog called Full Fat Diet. The recipes are abounding with fresh, local ingredients from local producers and farmers. They often feature full-fat ingredients, which are important for us not to neglect and are healthy when used in a fresh, varied diet. Hope to see you around!”

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