Monday, June 11, 2012

French Kids Eat Everything - Karen Le Billon

Summary: Moving her young family to her husband's hometown in northern France, Karen Le Billon is prepared for some cultural adjustment but is surprised by the food education she and her family (at first unwillingly) receive. The family soon begins to see the wisdom in the "food rules" that help the French foster healthy eating habits and good manners -- from the rigid "no snacking" rule to commonsense food routines that we used to share but have somehow forgotten. Soon, the family cures picky eating and learns to love trying new foods. But the real challenge comes when they move back to North America -- where their commitment to "eating French" is put to the test. The result is a family food revolution with surprising but happy results -- which suggest we need to dramatically rethink the way we feed children, at home and at school. (Summary from book jacket, image from HarperCollins.com.)

My Review: I read the book French Women Don't Get Fat last year which talked about how the French's relationship with food is so much different (and healthier) than the typical American's. I anticipated that this book would be similar. There was a lot of discussion about the cultural differences between us and the French when it comes to food, but I felt that French Kids Eat Everything had so much more practical advice, especially for families with small children.

This book is seriously a wealth of information and ideas for the "my kids won't eat anything but macaroni and cheese" parents. My favorite themes were...

1) Food education is the parents' responsibility and should be just as important as learning other life skills. When our kids struggle with learning to read, do we give up and simply give them alphabet board books for the rest of their childhood? It sounds silly, but how many of us are tempted to throw in the towel when our kids go through picky eating stages? Teaching children to love and appreciate good food can be tricky, but it's something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. (I might involve re-teaching ourselves before we can teach our kids, but it can be done.)

2) Food and eating should be a joyful, relaxing experience that brings families together. Ms. Le Billon spoke about creating a special atmosphere for mealtimes with no distractions.

3) Kids eat what adults eat. Period. No short-order cooking! I love this rule, and I also follow it when we eat out. The kids menus at most restaurants are mostly "frozen fast food" anyway, so my kids usually split an entree or eat from ours if the portions are especially large.

Another reason why I love this book is because you can adapt the concepts it to fit your lifestyle, no matter where you live. The French have very strict rules when it comes to food culture, but most of those rules can be adapted to our more casual American culture. It's very enlightening and a recommended read whether you have children or not!

My Rating: 5 Stars

Sum It Up: It IS possible to have children who enjoy eating healthy foods. Parents, take charge!

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