October 30, 2008

Fitness And Lifestyle

Today, much information is available on health and fitness. We all have been told to eat less-fatty meats, lots of fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water, avoid sodas, stay away from fast food, and to exercise. Still many people are struggling with weight and major health issues. Visibly, people are not following those suggestions or important factors are missing. I believe one of these factors is making the connection between healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices.

Today, our fast lifestyle does not allow for preparing and enjoying healthy homemade meals, and certainly not sitting down for at least half an hour to enjoy each meal. Americans have the need to be productive and not stay idle for a long period of time; spending time cooking and sitting down for a meal appears to be their least concern. They also do not seem to care about what they put into their bodies. The fast food industry thrives in the US mainly because of those reasons. However, if one is not in good health, how productive and active can one possibly be, and how long can a country of such individuals continue to thrive under those circumstances?

The question everyone should ask himself or herself is: Should we really make time for our health’s sake? No one is forcing us to eat food bars, shakes, fast food, and packaged food while on the way to a game, our next appointment, or while watching our favorite television show. Should we eat while going somewhere or doing another activity? As long as we give priority to lifestyle over healthy eating habits, we will not get healthy or fit.

Also, by eating those types of foods, which have not much flavors in the first place, we have numbed our taste buds and denied ourselves of sensual pleasures. We also denied ourselves the pleasure of socializing around foods. If eating is something we are looking forward to, would not that become more of a priority in our schedule?

That is exactly what the healthiest people in the world do not do. In Saint-Tropez, people live for food. Their schedule is based around their meals, not the other way around. Every day, they find time to shop for the freshest and best ingredients available. They talk about food and share their secrets.

They tell you about the latest amazing meals they had, the fantastic chef book they just bought, the newest recipe they just tried out, the place to find the best product, and the wine maker that has the best price to quality ratio. Sure, their diet, which mostly consists of fresh fish, lots of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, wine, and dark chocolate, is one major reason why they are the healthiest in the world, but it is also because of the role of food in their lives.

Use Flavorful Ingredients

Cooking and eating flavorful ingredients are very important to them. They consider those elements a major part of life’s adventures and sensual experiences. It is often done with family and friends, simply because they love to socialize around food. Though they no longer spend hours in the kitchen like the previous generations, they still care about the kind of food they prepare. They prepare easier quicker recipes and continue to get the children involved in the process while emphasizing the importance of the meal rituals.

They will welcome you into their homes à la franquette, which means, simple delicious foods, often paired with wonderful wines, and a colorfully decorated table. More than likely, they will invite you to share one of their found treasures, some kind of food or wine.

Like these people, many chefs in the restaurants of Saint-Tropez will shop daily and base their meals on the freshest and highest quality ingredients available. No-one expects less nor will settle for less, either. That is one major reason why eating is such a pleasurable experience in Saint-Tropez. They are also well aware of what is healthy for them, but do not dwell on it.

Obviously, staying healthy is not only about food, but also about exercise. The Saint-Tropez people let food dictate some aspect of what we would call a fitness plan. They walk to get to the outdoor market. They walk to different stores to find specific ingredients. They walk after a nice meal. They might play tennis or soccer, take a swim, but certainly do not go to the gym or do strenuous exercises. The young and the not-so-young play la pétanque (also known as game of boules or bocce in Italian) on a regular basis. Exercising is thought as a social fun activity rather than as a health issue. Sure, everyone is concerned with health, but what really matters to them is enjoying a good time with great food and great friends.

These are only a few secrets of the healthiest place in the world. I invite you to read The Saint-Tropez Diet to discover what the people of Saint-Tropez have been nurturing for generations and how their passions for life and food have made their lifestyle the envy of the world.

Over the past few months, numerous published studies have reported the benefits of Mediterranean-type diets in reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and Alzheimer’s disease. But the secret ingredient in the Mediterranean diet has always been much more than just the combination of nutrients and whole foods, as any visitor to Saint-Tropez, the French Riviera’s crown jewel, will tell you. The art and beauty of food, as well as sensual pleasures, are also the key to the diet’s success.

I, Chef Marie, share my culinary tips and easy-to-prepare recipes that deliver on the pleasures of eating, while co-author Dr. Apostolos Pappas explains the key principles of the Saint-Tropez Diet–high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and anti-oxidants from wholesome fresh ingredients.

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