Foreign Indulgence by Sharla Plant

Are there really no overweight people in France?

I’ve recently been travelling in Asia. For three months I was lucky enough to indulge in all kinds of exotic gastronomy, such as sampling weird ingredients and tasting wonderful new flavours from across the continent.

I usually find that I have less of an appetite when it’s hot outside, but with such a variety of culinary sights and smells on every street corner, it was very hard not to over-indulge with foreign foods – and even harder not to love every minute of it.

Imagine my surprise then when I stepped on the scales upon my return to find that I had in fact, lost half a stone over the course of my travels! It just shows that successful weight loss is all about balance even with foreign indulgence.

Once I’d gotten over the shock, I realised that as well as consuming copious amounts of Tiger beer, coconut milk-based curries and sticky deep fried treats, I had also eaten hardly any bread, cheese or processed food over that entire period.

Indeed, my protein intake came almost entirely from fresh seafood and I’d eaten more fresh fruit than probably ever before. Combined with the fact that I was constantly on the move, it’s not actually much of a surprise that I returned to the UK lighter and healthier than when I waved goodbye at Heathrow T4.

It’s a bit of a different story now however, as since January I’ve been living in Paris. Another foodies’ dream full of French indulgence and in so many ways the city is hugely inspirational; fresh food markets each week, independent delis and multicultural supermarkets down every boulevard.

But there’s no escaping the fact that bread, cheese, wine and cured meats are everywhere, and are just irresistibly indulgent, and not particularly good for you.

It’s amazing how food culture can affect your attitude to health and fitness. When the supermarkets are unfamiliar and you don’t know where the nearest gym is, it’s so easy to kid yourself that the new and interesting dishes you’re trying are in fact, totally calorie free! This is obviously an error, and one that I’m trying desperately to rectify.

I’m not on holiday, this is my life, and normal rules should still apply. I’m starting to get back into an eating and exercise routine. It’s not complicated really; eating three healthy meals a day instead of grazing on fromage and pain whenever the mood takes me, which is often.

I don’t have any scales here yet, but it would be a good idea to monitor my weight every couple of weeks or so too. Just because I lost some weight three months ago doesn’t mean it’s never going to come back again, and that’s ok, but I want to make sure it doesn’t get out of control.

Given the local cuisine, it’s odd that the vast majority of Parisians I’ve seen are so slim, but unfortunately I haven’t found the key to this top French secret. The boulangeries always seem busy though, so maybe I’ll start there…..

By Sharla Plant