I loved reading this fun post about Kacie’s family, and how they overhauled their eating habits after reading “French Kids”. It’s a great summary of the 10 French Food Rules–and an inspiring story about how her daughter, Gwyneth, has quickly and happily adapted.
Cut out snacking? Check.
Trying new things happily? Check.
Slow, fun family dinners? Check.
Eating better at mealtimes? Check.
So inspiring – particularly the thoughts on how to balance the French approach with the realities of living in North America. Plus, this is a beautiful blog, with a great sense of style. Check it out!
ps I’d love to hear your thoughts: did reading ‘French Kids’ change the way that you feed your family?
6 thoughts on “Did reading "French Kids Eat Everything" change the way that you feed your family? One mom's story”
I really enjoyed your book! More than anything, I found it fascinating from a cross-cultural perspective. I loved how it made me step outside of our North American way of thinking about and dealing with food. The differences in priorities around food and eating was especially illuminating.
As far as changing our eating habits, I would say it has helped a bit. I actually already (and unwittingly, I should add) used a lot of the French Food Rules at our house: kids eat what adults eat, when adults eat; no substitutions; we all enjoy sit-down dinners together; we eat only unprocessed homemade food bought mostly from local farms; the kids must try new foods up to 10 times before they can say in advance that they ‘don’t like’ something. (I probably learned these habits from my own upbringing) The result of this was that my kids aren’t picky or fussy, they enjoy food and they like to try new things.
However, the snack thing has been way WAY out of control in our house. Often the kids aren’t hungry for dinner, only eat half of it, and then get more snacks later. The eating on the go, the crumbs, the mess, the $$ plastic-free containers going missing! We’ve now eliminated snacks to one substantial after-school snack (which I am calling gouter in my head!) and it has made a huge difference in how much dinner the kids eat! They are also not hungry for bedtime snacks either. I love this! I had never thought about the snacking as having any negative effects. We only offer healthy snacks, and the North American view that children need to eat frequently and that many small meals are healthier than three big ones had put me in a position where I did not question the snacking habit. Once I read your book, I tracked what the kids ate for a few days and realized they were eating much less protein and vegetables than I realized because of all the fruit, crackers, muffins, smoothies and granola bars they were eating as snacks all day!
Another thing the book made me think about was the variety of vegetables my children (don’t) eat. When they were very young, I made a concerted effort to make sure the kids tried and ate and enjoyed vegetables. But once my kids ate and enjoyed a certain number of vegetables, I have given up introducing new ones. Today, I sat down a wrote a list of the vegetables we regularly eat and I realized that they are eating maybe 8 different vegetables regularly (this includes potatoes, tomato sauce, and raw carrots) so actually not nearly as many as I had thought. (Aside: They will eat most vegetables in mixed dishes – soups, stirfries, quiche, etc – so it’s not dire) I am planning a meeting with them tonight where we discuss how to incorporate new vegetables, or vegetables they have only tried a few times, back into regular rotation.
Anyway, THANK YOU for a wonderful book!
PS I first heard about your book from my good friend Laura, who is a friend of yours!
Thanks so much – so glad you enjoyed the book! Loved your post!
Yes! I love the way you were not afraid to write about how difficult the adjustment to the French way of life was for you and your family, as well as the adjustment coming back to North America. I could especially relate to the parts about food at school as we have struggled with that. Although we have not successfully eliminated snacking, we do make more of a production out of “snacks” (or mini-meals) and sit down to enjoy them instead of eating on-the-go, and try to never snack too close to a meal, which has been key to successful dinners around our house. In fact, I loved your book so much I wrote a post about it! You can access that here: http://jesdelights.blogspot.com/2012/12/french-kids-really-eat-everything.html Thanks so much for this post, I loved reading it!
YES! I praise God that I read it! The primary change is that we stopped using food as a reward. Instead we reward with screen time, which was another change we made at the same time. Our screen time was out of control, and now it’s limited to 20 min. per day that they can earn by behaving well, serving, cleaning, etc. But if they complain or have bad behavior (minor infractions), they lose minutes. Rewarding with food never had this kind of effect. I’m really health-conscious, so we rarely had desserts – and why b/c they’d had “treats” all day as rewards! So I implemented desserts after lunch and supper (mostly fruits, etc., but 1x per week chocolate), and they lose it if they whine about the food I prepared! Whoa! Massively curbed the whining! Love it! Another change is that we don’t give them food options for meals, but only for the scheduled afternoon snack. I LOVE not being a short-order cook! THANK YOU for your insight into kids and into the American psychology of food! SO helpful! 🙂
The biggest difficulty I’m still having is getting my 2 1/2 yr. old to try new things – even after he sees big brother sample. Usually if he will try something, to his surprise, he likes it, but it’s just getting him to open his mouth. It usually means a battle! You said don’t force them the first 3x, but then they “don’t have to eat it, but they have to try it.” I find that we’re at that point, and he’s still not trying. Do I lay the law and go back into food wars??? Ideas?
Yes! I got serious about eliminating snacking except for once a day at “teatime” (for us, around 2 pm since we eat supper early, around 5-6).
I also started making lunch a little fancier, and serving more desserts after dinner.
I began making raw carrot salad once a week and I LOVE it! I eat a little every day.
Yes, yes, YES! I replaced some of our snack foods (even though they were made with healthy ingredients) with “real food” (things you might find on a dinner plate). The kids asked for crackers, etc., initially but then forgot about them. I’m become more focused on introducing new flavors and eating a wide variety of foods and there’s definitely more conversation about food (food education) happening in our house. I still recommend French Kids Eat Everything to people. Such a great book!