French Kids Eat Everything
How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banned snacking, and discovered 10 simple rules for raising happy, healthy eaters
by Karen Le Billon
image from Amazon.com
This was such an interesting book! Not only did I learn great tips for teaching kids healthy eating, but she shared history and culture about France that I enjoyed learning about. A great read! I highly encourage you pick this up at the library or order it on Amazon.com. She's a witty, sweet, totally realistic mom who struggled to figure out just how to keep her kids from snacking all day long in this foreign country when they moved from Canada to France. It's funny at parts, sad at others, and overall a GREAT and easy read.
A few tips I learned in this book, based on ideas the author learned from French families in France:
- Kids need to try foods a number of times (on average 7 times) before they like or don't like it. (page 11)
"Chances are, my children are not going to grow up to go to Harvard, or to be major league sports stars, concert musicians, or NASA astronauts. But no matter who they grow up to be, how and what my children eat will be of great importance to their health, happiness, success, and longevity." (page 12)
"French parents think about healthy eating habits the way North American parents think about toilet training, or reading. If your children consistently refused to read, or even learn the alphabet, would you give up trying to teach them? Would you be content to wait for your children to toilet train by themselves, assuming that they'd eventually 'grow out of it' or 'figure it out'? Probably not. You'd probably figure out strategies to help them develop this essential life skill." (page 13) SO TRUE!
- Kids are not to play with foods. They are to eat them.
- Even everyday meals is like an occasion, something to celebrate. It's not just shoveling food into your mouths. You eat at the table - not couch, not car, not standing up. You sit and eat. Having a nicely decorated table helps the process. (page 20)
- The table is supposed to be a fun, happy place to be.
- Food is NOT punishment or reward. Ever.
- It's also not a bribe, pacifier (something to quiet a child, aka emotional eating). It's also not a "substitute for discipline." (page 25)
- In France, lunch is the biggest meal of the day and it takes two hours. It is 40 % of a child's daily caloric intake. (page 41)
- Vegetables at every meal, raw one day, cooked the next.
- Fish once per week. Fried food no more than once a week. Fruit = dessert most days.
- The bottom row of their food pyramid is water.
- Kids eat when they are given foods, 4 times a day (3 meals and one afternoon snack), no in between meal snacking. The fewer snacks, the hungrier they are at meal times.
- At the daycares, the children ate a few kids at a time, the others waited patiently while the caregivers were one-on-one with kids, feeding them each bite, carefully, slowly. It was a process. (page 51)
- Food = social. It's a time to talk, check in, smile, laugh, be together. At the table! (page 75)
"The realization slowly dawned on me. Learning how to eat like the French was not just about my kids eating vegetables. It was about changing how we nourished ourselves, and about changing our psychological and emotional relationship to both cooking and eating. This was a bit of a shock. I had thought I would be fighting to change my children's eating habits. Now, I realized, I'd also have to fight my own ingrained eating and cooking habits." (page 81)
- French parents are less indulgent and strict. They expect their kids to sit quietly, patiently waiting until all are done eating. (page 87)
- "The French approach, I began to realize, is a very good way to behave if you want to prevent food from becoming a power struggle between parents and kids. At first glance, their methods seem coercive because there are so many rules and limited choices. But in fact the opposite is true. Because there are fixed rules and routines that everyone (including the parents) respects, there is no negotiation and no power struggles. French kids, in general, thrive within this structured approach to parenting. And French parents also make sure that food is fun and tasty, which helps the kids look forward to eating. As a result, their kids are usually happy to come to the table." (page 89)
- Encouraging kids to eat well does not have to involve conflict. Firm, but with support and fun. (page 104)
- The best response to kids refusing to eat is indifference. Not caring, ignoring really. (page 109)
- Rule: you don't have to like it, but you have to try it. (page 111)
- Kids need to eat REAL food, not processed. (page 117)
- Eating should be joyful (page 208)
- Make one meal, that's the only meal you cook.
- Don't force them to finish everything on their plate. Serve small portions and let them ask for more. If they have control, they eat better. (page 218)
- Include something they will like to eat at each meal (page 220)
- VARIETY = great! Spice it up, try new things.
- Make a happy face plate (tomatoes for eyes, etc.) (page 222)
"The average French household spends one-quarter of its food budget (excluding desserts) on vegetables. What would your weekly menus look like if you did that?" (page 230)
GREAT RECIPES in the back!
I'd love to try this one: Tomates Farcies (Stuffed Tomatoes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion
1/2 lb ground beef
4 large tomatoes
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Optional add spices and/or peppers, garlic
Saute the beef and onion.
Slice off tops of tomatoes and hollow out.
Combine bread crumbs, herbs and spices together. Add this to meat mixture.
Spoon into tomatoes.
Top with cheese.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 275 degrees.
AN AWESOME BOOK, CHECK IT OUT !