I was just reading the February 2010 edition of Reader's Digest magazine. (Apparently we only received this issue recently, which is odd. I mean, it's long past February now. I guess they forgot to send it to us before.) This time the magazine had a focus on ways to lose weight and the attitudes of people in various countries about being fat.
Regarding France, many families eat together every night, much more than the percentage in the USA out of people surveyed. And the meals in France are quite long. My French teacher told us that the lunchtime at French schools is about two hours long, so school ends late, like 5:00 pm or so. It's such a long lunch that you might even be able to go home and take a nap (just as long as you got up in time to return to school).
Actually, the longer the meal, the less you eat, given that you talk to someone while eating. If you're holding a conversation while eating, then you don't eat as quickly, compared to when you're focused on eating (as I tend to be). That pretty much explains why eating lunch or dinner seems to take so much longer when my parents are eating with their friends.
In this way, you end up not eating as much even though you supposedly would be spending more time talking. By talking, you have to slow down your eating (unless you eat and talk at the same time, which is disgusting and can also result in choking or food coming out). It's a good strategy, but it does take up time, which is a valuable resource that is impossible to replace.
But the opposite - that less is more - is also true, when it comes to swimming pools. Blackberry Farm, a place of recreation in my town, has its pool open during the warmer months. There's a discount on Sunday evenings (after 5:00 pm), I believe, so my mother and I went to the pool.
My mom had thought it wouldn't be crowded because she figured not many people would know about the pool, but she turned out to be wrong. It was quite crowded. Still, we figured that since we bothered to come we should go and swim. I suppose that less money needed to go swimming means more people flock to the pool.
The deepest section, 6 feet deep, was the one with the least amount of people. (This is an instance of "more is less" - the deeper the water, the smaller the amount of people in it.) The shallower sections were mostly occupied by parents teaching their children to swim.
It brought back my memories of the time when I was still struggling with swimming. My mom and I would go to the YMCA pool because we used to have a membership there. My mom would tell me to do four paces of Freestyle or something like that. It had been difficult for me then. Sometimes I choked on water and became very upset. I used to resent swimming. I feared water. Even showering was something I disliked because I might get water in my eyes. Now I don't fear the pool anymore. I guess the toils and trouble turned out to be worth it.