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Blue Cheese at 9 Months?!

by Katherine - 3 Comment(s)

I’m reading French Kids Eat Everything (and Yours Can, Too): 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, and it’s fascinating! It’s much more than a manual to cure picky eating and family food fights. It’s an insightful examination of attitudes towards food, eating, and nourishment, and how they differ between the French model and the American (and by extension, Canadian) model.

I’m young (for a little while longer, at least) and single (likely for eternity) and it’s my prerogative to eat dinner alone, standing over the sink. Or sitting on the couch, channel flipping. Or at midnight. Or twice. Because there’s no one watching me, my eating routines lack both a social component and a sense of restraint. According to the author’s mother-in-law, my normal habits are a recipe for obesity. So, apparently, is snacking, using food as a reward or punishment, allowing your children to dictate what or when they’ll eat, and eating at any place other than the table, surrounded by your family.

Le Billon observes that French parents are firmly in control and by refusing to let their children eat the same thing every day, or complain about the food they’re given, French children wind up eating a wider and much more balanced range of foods. They are more willing to try new foods, and they don’t whine or throw hunger induced tantrums. Even children 5 or 6 years of age will sit patiently in a restaurant, while their parents linger over a nice long meal. This is because French children are taught that food is exciting and interesting; part of a familial set of rituals; and an aspect of their national identity about which to be proud.

It’s a very far cry from exasperatedly stuffing greasy McNuggets into the whining maw of an angry 7 year old, en route to a hockey practice.

Check out this book whether you have children or not. As long as you’re someone who eats, it will provide you with lots of interesting ideas. Food for thought, if you will.

I noticed a woman on the C-Train, jotting down the title, as I read. We started chatting and it turns out she is French. She said that in her family, they always made sure to eat together at the table, at a very precise time. Sure enough, she was slim. Maybe the French are on to something...

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by Amber Leigh (HBR) Keen

I love this post! I too notice that when I eat alone compared to when I eat in public there are very different patterns to it both in what I eat and the manner in which I consume it. Unfortunately since I don't really have family it's impossible to consistently eat around others - though I've found with the warmer weather it's nice to sit outside for lunch, and accompanied with the paranoia that the neighbors might be watching me my eating patterns become much more lady like.

I’ve been inspired to place a hold on this book. Thank you!

-Amber K.

by Katherine

Thanks for your comment! "Winning the Food Fight" is referenced by the author in this one, too.

by Heather Ganshorn

I recently picked up Winning the Food Fight, by Natalie Rigal, also French. She's a psychologist whose specialty is the psychology and neuroscience of food preferences, and she's the mother of two children in Paris. She gets more into the science of food preferences, and how you can get it to work for you in introducing your kids to a varied diet. I haven't gotten very far into it yet, but it's a very interesting read so far, and I'm hoping it will offer me some tips for getting my toddler to eat something besides toast.

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