health

Don't stop eating cheese. The benefits of dairy foods are enormous.

All the cheese lovers out there, this post is for you.

By STEPHANIE OSFIELD.

I recently had a café catch-up with a friend. I went for my usual Americana-style with a single shot. In coffee-speak that’s somewhere between a latte and a long black. I order it because I like to get the amount of full cream milk in my coffee just right (I know, I know, I know – they have ‘high maintenance’ buttons for people like me!). My girlfriend? She asked for a long black. No biggie. Except that she’s always been a latte girl. So why the sudden shift? I was intrigued. Was she shaking up her life by trying new things? Next stop pink hair or a Moped and mod make-over? Nope. She explained she was ditching dairy because she’s on a mission. To lose weight.

Just as an FYI, this post is sponsored by Dairy Australia. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

I made no comment, though I badly wanted to. Could barely zip my lip. Because as a health writer I know that dairy food is a friend. The benefits of dairy foods are enormous. To you. To me. Regardless of your weight. My kids eat foods like milk and cheese and yogurt regularly. And so do I. We all know dairy is the number one source of calcium and how important it is to include dairy in the diet of growing kids. It’s the reason why at home my kids eat cheese and yogurt and have milk.

Nobody knows this better than Mireille Guiliano, whose book ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’ has been a bestseller all over the globe, including America, England and Australia. In these countries, we are diet obsessed but as statistics will show, we’re more overweight than the French who enthusiastically drink coffee with plenty of full cream milk, enjoy butter or brie on their lunch baguette and are not afraid of savouring scrumptious cheeses like camembert, blue and gruyere.

‘Dairy is the perfect food for maintaining your weight because its high protein content gives you energy and helps to stop you feeling hungry.’

My mouth waters just roll-calling their names. Clearly for the French, dairy foods are part of the secret to staying slim. They appreciate the multiple benefits of dairy foods. From the reading I’ve done it seems this benefit has to do with the unique package of vitamins and minerals in dairy foods especially the calcium and protein. To find out more about this French paradox, I had a brief chat with Mireille Guiliano. She is visiting Australia this month to discuss the French spin on a healthy diet and share her philosophy on why we should embrace dairy foods with open arms:

MM Q: Why are you such a huge fan of dairy foods?

Mireille A: “People often forget or don’t know about the importance of protein, but in France we eat tonnes of milk, yogurt and cheese. We don’t get fat because the protein helps us feel full and snack less. In fact, dairy foods actually assist our bodies to burn the fat from our fat cells. Dairy is the perfect food for maintaining your weight because its high protein content gives you energy and helps to stop you feeling hungry. I’m an avid eater of dairy foods like cheese and yogurt, because they nourish my body.

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This nourishment began when I was a child. I particularly have fond memories of visiting my grandmother’s farm in the country. She had cows and every night we drank a cup of fresh milk just before going to bed. At home, we ate two yogurts a day – one in the morning to help us wake up and another with lunch or after school.”

MM Q: In films set in France, cheese always seems to dominate French cuisine – is that true in real life?

Mireille A: “It’s absolutely true. The French evening meal, which often consists of a soup and salad, always ends with a cheese platter. There are so many tasty varieties of cheese available and I love them. But if you watch French women eat, you will notice that they never eat half or most of what’s on the cheese board. They usually take three small slivers of cheese and they enjoy this and are satisfied.”

Mireille Guiliano

MM Q: You’re a believer in having a healthy approach to weight loss that doesn’t necessarily involve depriving yourself….

Mireille A: “When I got back to France (after an exchange in America) I went to see our family doctor and he reminded me of all the principles of French eating that my mother had raised me on. Firstly, I returned to good home cooking and not highly processed bought meals or foods, which I had been eating in America. Secondly, I went back to eating three meals a day and not snacking on foods like brownies or ice cream, which I ate in the States because they were constantly on offer. Thirdly, I ate more protein, like cheese and eggs and fish.

The trick in losing weight was to eat slowly and mindfully. Food is an absolute pleasure and it should be fully savoured with all your senses. If you eat this way you feel far more satiated at the end of a meal and less likely to overeat. To put it simply, when we eat slowly, we eat less.”

MM Q: Why don’t diets work?

Mireille A: “Diets don’t work and though they may help you lose a little weight at first, usually you can’t keep up the rigid routine because you feel miserable and then you re-gain what you lost and add on more weight as well. So I’m very anti-dieting. During that one period where I gained weight, I lost it again while eating foods I love like cheese and butter. I never ever felt deprived and I think that is the key to maintaining a stable, healthy weight.”

Enjoying milk, cheese and yogurt every day is not linked to weight gain when eaten as part of a balanced diet. And if you’re trying to lose weight, including adequate amounts of dairy foods in a weight loss diet can help accelerate weight loss. It’s unclear why this is the case but it’s believed to be related to the unique combination of ten essential nutrients found in dairy foods.

Most Australians don’t consume enough milk, cheese or yogurt every day. Dairy foods are good for your health and taste great. Have you had yours today?

To learn more about the benefits of dairy foods click here. If you would like to hear more about Mireille’s healthy living philosophies, you can watch a video of her here.

Do you have a favourite dairy product? Do you have a favourite recipe that involves dairy foods? 

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