I have been intrigued by a book I recently picked up from the local library. Friends had recommended it to me about a year ago when we were struggling with our younger son’s eating. I pinned it. I finally got to it!
“French Kids Eat Everything” is a book by Karen Le Billon. She is a fellow mom of two children. I have two boys…she has two girls. She married a French man. I married an American. French and American styles of eating are vastly different. The French I’m learning through this book have three core principles to their food culture:
1. Convivialite (accent over that final E)–Conviviality, meaning “feasting or socializing together.” They are social eaters. Eating for pleasure involves company. Americans often dine solo or on the go in their cars, at our desks, or in front of the television…gasp!
2. A focus on bon gout…a serious focus on taste. People in France openly praise and criticize. The positive aspect of this is that everything in France is beautifully done. Tables are set neatly…food is prepared for beauty as well.
3. Food rules apply–les regles (rules). These rules are taught at a young age to all children regardless of social class. Gastronomie means the rules of the stomach, but they are not hard and fast rules but rather habits. One key rule: Food is social. Eat family meals together at the table, with no distractions.
Okay…so I think I like all of these concepts, but implementing them is another story. I’m reading this book slowly. As a mom…we have little time for pleasure reading…however, I do fit it in early in the morning before others awake, in the bathroom, in the car waiting for things, and in the afternoons when the kids are independently playing.
Playing is something I do well at. I like to play with my children. In France the adults sit back on the benches and let the kids play alone mostly. Our cultures are different. However, I am finding merit in the food rules. I am talking them over with my husband and kids. They know I’m reading the book because some things have changed at meal times. I am more directing the menus…instead of them directing me on what to pack in their lunch or serve for snack/dinner.
Book review part one…five stars. I am on page 92 of 280 so about a third of the way through the book. Here are the first rules that I’ve read about thus far. The mother writing the book writes the rules down for herself as the rules are unwritten in France.
1. Parents: YOU are in charge of food education!
2. Avoid emotional eating. So hard. NO food rewards, bribes, etc.
3. Parents schedule meals and menus. Kids eat what adults eat! NO short order cooking.
How do these rules play out at your home or do you recall the rules as you grew up as a child? Please comment and share your thoughts! I already have a handle on rule 1. I am working on rule 2 and 3 now with our family. Last night was a somewhat success and disaster…
I did allow food rewards for trying new foods to our almost 5 year old. He needs to eat more so I am hedging my bets with the nutritionist that we consulted with…feed him more calories! He cried his way through a new Cinnamon and Sweet Potato flavored triangle Triscuit…just a nibble. BUT, then he shared that he likes the square ones…we had those at the back of the cupboard…viola…a healthier ending to his meal…more fiber!
Disaster was that our older son refused to try the bruschetta and bananas. He is nearly eight years old. Long ago he was an adventurous eater…now he is more into meat and carbs. He cried and debated. I sent him to his room. Dad came home later than our dinner…he and our older son ate a blue cheese burger that I fried on our skillet! They had no clue they were eating blue cheese! They would have both frowned upon it, but since I we all ate it together…plates were cleaned…my little secret. They both tried new foods! Also, my husband usually frowns upon tomatoes…he ate the bruschetta and liked it! Of course, he drowned his burger in America’s finest Heinz ketchup (bleh). However, we ARE an American family…so it goes. I am working to make small strides in expanding our picky palates and choosing more healthy meals for all.