Wednesday, January 09, 2013

French Kids Eat Everything

As I've been getting back into the swing of things I find myself wasting spending more time reading. It's delightful, really. I'm not the type of girl who reads five books at a time... instead, I pour over one book and soak it all up; page by page.

The book I'm reading right now is French Kids Eat Everything, by Karen Le Billon. It's a fantastic read about how different the French are compared to Americans when it comes to food. Duh, right? But really... it starts with their kids.

French children are not given special attention, excuses or value when it comes to meals and food. Children are expected to behave like little adults at the table. They exude manners and etiquette that would be expected from any French adult (which would far surpass most American adults, sadly). Kids are expected to try every food and eat it without complaint. Most kids have no need to complain, because the food is delicious.

I should probably step up my cooking game.

The beauty of these expectations (amongst many other unwritten rules) is having children who eat a wide variety of foods... including fruits, veggies, meats and foods that are not particularly identifiable. How grand is that!? As parents, the French do not make separate meals for their children, they do not indulge in calorie dense snacks and the kiddos are having a nutrient rich diet that is full of variety. In addition, kiddos go to the restaurant with the folks and eat a meal like little humans... not little animals.

How many little animals have you had dinner with lately?

The French have a significantly lower obesity rate in their country compared to most other countries in the developed world. France in general, has a lower rate of diabetes, heart disease and other life threatening diseases that the US. This should be proof enough.

I'm not quite finished with the book yet, but I've found it so inspiring that I've sought out additional books on French parenting. It's a beautiful thing to imagine living our lives to the fullest right alongside our children... rather than waiting for them to be out of our way. Why can't we raise our kids to be decent, mannerly and pleasant? I'm fairly certain I've quite the learning curve ahead of me... but it's given me hope that being a firm and disciplined parent may not be all that old fashioned.

For starters, we're going to eat a delicious dinner tonight. All of us.


  1. I feel really strongly about living full lives alongside our children and not making them the centers of our lives; I love these ideas!

    On the food front, I had really lofty ideals earlier in my parenting journey about the kind of eaters I wanted to raise but I have grown more relaxed (lazy?) about it through the years. I do feel encouraged that at ages 5-6 Grace finally turned the corner and started getting less picky, more open to trying things, etc. I am sad to report that she still is horrified by black pepper, though.

    1. An interesting point was made in the book... that kids learn to love delicious foods. I think part of being a smart parent is creating foods that are appetizing for both kid and parent. Being relaxed is key... and frankly I'm more relaxed about meals that are easy for all our pallets.

      And ironically, it seems like we Americans use black pepper a whole lot more than most cultures... I can't say I don't blame Grace. I'm not a huge fan either.