Comments from Readers

Buy “French Kids Eat Everything” HERE!

Over the past several years, we have been going through a journey as a family: learning how to enjoy life and contribute to community through food. My goal is to inspire debate and reflection, and the stories I tell are meant to do just that. So I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories too. Thanks to all of the readers who wrote in with their thoughts!

“This book is completely revolutionizing the way my family eats and views food.”

“A huge message of your book is if we raise our expectations for what our kids can handle, in eating and social behavior, they will surprise us by meeting the challenge. I wish everyone with young kids could read this book. “

“I couldn’t put this book down – such an inspiring and interesting read! As a first-time Mum I feel it has stopped me in my tracks as I inadvertently headed down the road of allowing myself to teach my one year-old “emotional eating”. It has encouraged me that I don’t need to “hide” vegetables in meals (as so many childrens’ cook books suggest) but embrace teaching my daughter to love them and look forward to them at meal times. The book is full of useful and practical tips and will no doubt be a family staple!”

“New required reading for all open-minded parents. I learned just as much about American food culture as I did about French food culture. If you want to understand your own culture, best thing to do is to leave it and go someplace very different.”

“It is 2:15pm on a Thursday and my son 19-month-old has already eaten the following: plain yogurt, flaxseed oil, lemon juice,wheat germ, ground walnuts, honey, strawberries, brick cheese, water, red cabbage, tofu, ground beef, purple kale, black rice, scallions, soy sauce, sriarcha sauce, dark chocolate with orange slices, raspberries, and peanuts. And I have eaten the same. How can I thank you enough for the change you have brought to my son, my baby daughter, and myself? (We’re still waiting to convince my husband, but he’s as all-American as you get.) For the last 8 weeks, I eat what my son eats. We dress the table every meal and snack (around 4pm, of course), we eat so many new foods in new ways, and I’m learning my own set of patience and social skills I previously didn’t see lacking. Let’s be honest, conversation isn’t easy with someone who has a vocabulary of less than 50 words, but you’ve made me think about that time we do spend together and how I can teach him to converse, to appreciate food, to slow down and focus, to be attentive, and to generally take great pleasure in the company of good friends and good food.”

[from a reader who is a Weight Watchers group leader] “Most Weight Watchers members are struggling to overcome the unhealthy habits formed in childhood and need to embrace many of the food rules you prescribe to achieve lasting weight loss success. We spend a lot of time talking about overcoming emotional eating, establishing an eating schedule, eating mindfully, getting your fruits and vegetables, and portion control in our meetings. Your book is a helpful resource for all of us, young and old, seeking to take charge of our eating habits and relationship with food.”

“I’m happy I bought your book! After reading another book on picky eaters (that will make a lot of parents very unhappy as they are constantly reminded it’s all their fault because they are picky themselves, which is not true in our family) your memoir was like a healing balm for my soul. It gave me lots of hope and new ideas and especially motivation to keep trying and not to give up. Thank you!”

“I couldn’t put this book down. The author is a great writer, and she is honest about how difficult it was for her family to adjust to the French way, and how difficult it is to maintain this way of eating back in North America. There are a lot of funny anecdotes about cross-cultural food faux pas. Overall just a great combination of memoir, practical ideas, cultural anthropology, and even a few recipes. Really a good read!”

“This book has completely changed my thinking about children and food. It is fascinating to read about how another culture approaches educating children about food, flavors, snacking, cooking, and eating. All the things you think you know about children and food….maybe they are all wrong. Maybe we give up too easily when our kids reject a new food. Maybe we could, like the French, approach training our children to eat new foods with the same seriousness that we approach toilet training or reading—not taking no for an answer.”

“I read your book and loved it! I have two boys, 19 months and 4 months. So far I have avoided the trend to be a short order cook for my older son but I know it will only get harder as he gets older. I have made many of the recipes from your book and love them! The fish en papillote and spinach surprise are new favourites!”

“I loved this book…the author manages to convey the importance of eating well (that is, real food, eaten mindfully) without being condescending or bossy. She acknowledges her own challenges with new foods, cooking, and the “French” philosophy, but her eventual acceptance and enthusiasm is inspiring. While I don’t have children of my own yet, this is going in the arsenal for future child-rearing reference.”

“The 10 “Food Rules” are really common sense ideas you probably, however vaguely, already know. But if you’re like me, you may find them excellent, if not also habit-changing, reminders of how things should be. Or can be. Key to enforcing these rules is a French parenting mentality that’s loving but firm.”

“Where this book distinguishes itself from others in the genre is that it does not conclude in France with a rosy cinematic fade out of the annual family day-long garden feast and a ‘happy end’ to the food wars…Le Billon is now back in Vancouver where she is trying to change the school lunch culture and introduce more healthful eating.”

“Perhaps I like this book because its central theme resonates with my own belief: Eating should be joyful, not stressful (one of the “food rules” in the book)…You don’t have to be a parent to appreciate the honest and often humorous personal anecdotes from the author as she resolves to get her two picky children eating the French way within a year.”

“I am reading your book and enjoying it very much. Your humility and perseverance, plus your social-cultural awareness make the book a very good and persuasive read.”

“French Kids Eat Everything is an honest and highly enjoyable read. I think we could learn some valuable lessons about feeding our families from the French — with adaptations for life in North America. Like any new way of doing something, changes must take place gradually and with flexibility. But by adapting at least some of Le Billon’s food rules in French Kids Eat Everything, we may begin to see more enjoyable meals, healthier bodies, and fewer food battles at home.”

“I loved this book. I liked the writer’s voice and style, and I thought she found the perfect balance between factual information and stories from her personal life. I was drooling over some of the food descriptions, and was glad to see she had included a chapter full of recipes. I found a lot of inspiration in this book, and while we cannot adapt a completely French style of eating, we are making some changes in how we approach food with our family.”

“This book is a thought-provoking look at a society that has successfully assisted parents in raising healthy, happy and adventurous eaters – and an important rallying cry for our country to make some much-needed cultural changes.”

“I loved this book. The information in here was fabulous. If this book was mandatory reading for all new parents (in North America) there would be a lot less stopping in at McDonald’s for french fries. There is also a lot of great information for adults in general. Honestly, read this book: it’s one of the good ones.”

“This book is absolutely fascinating and truly inspiring. I have been searching for a detailed and especially interesting book on children’s food education in France. It was so interesting I finished it within two days. If for no other reason, there is a lovely and SIMPLE recipe guide in the back to try with your own families.”

“I bought this book for my daughter who is a new mother and has an 8 month old child who is just beginning to eat solid food. Both she and I found this book fascinating because of the cross cultural look at the eating habits of French children as compared to American children. It points out the nutrition mistakes made by so many American mothers and the cultural differences that have our families depending on fast food. It rightly puts healthy eating and healthy food habits in the spotlight.”

“This is a wry, witty memoir about the year Le Billon spent with her family in France, and the food revolution they underwent–that transformed their daughters from picky eaters to happy almost-eaters-of-everything. The French Food Rules are great and useful tips for parents, and the discussions of French food culture–from food education and amazing menus in schools to the latest research on the roots of taste– will be of interest to anyone with a passion for food. To boot, Le Billon is a wonderful writer with a great sense of humor. Highly recommended!!”

“I’m almost finished reading your amazing book “French Kids Eat Everything” and I have to thank you. I am a mother of a 17 month old with another on the way. I came across your book after running into some hurdles with our daughter at the dinner table. I have to admit I thought your book would be targeted more toward my daughter’s attitude and I quickly realized that you were to have a profound impact on my own outlook on food, cooking and the experience of eating. Although reading it has come smack in the middle of my first trimester when I’m more likely to stay away from food altogether, I am encouraged by your experiences to be positive about real food (even as it currently makes me nauseous!) and cook as much as I can at home. I’ve already seen great results and I am very confident going into the next phase with another baby! Thank you, thank you for all of your advice and for sharing your experience so eloquently. It is a joy to read and I’m going to share your book with as many friends and family as I can. Best of luck with it! And I hope you are finding much support with your current endeavors.”

“I just read your book. Thanks so much for a great and inspiring resource! My daughter is 13 months old, and I’ve been worrying about the issues you discuss since it was first time to introduce solids. It’s also been a great reminder for me. It’s well and good to serve my kid what I eat, but when I refuse to give her “my” food because it’s not good for her, it’s a sign that I’ve got some work to do, too! I’ve been telling all my friends with young children about the book.”

“I just finished reading this book and I loved it. I wanted more tips on how to get my child to enjoy more foods. I also wanted to change my own food habits, so this was perfect for me. So far my family and I have begun changing our lifestyles, little by little, to follow the ‘rules’ in the book. It has been amazing. We have had several meals ‘the French way’ and we have enjoyed them immensely. My daughter is very young (just started solids) so this is the perfect time for me to have read this book. This is a great book if you are looking for a lifestyle change that will help you and your kids eat healthier and lead more enjoyable lives. The recipes included are great and the anecdotes are funny. It is a fun book to read. I highlighted and underlined a lot of passages to read again. The rules are simple (not rigid) and easy to apply to everyday life, even if you don’t live in France. Any family and any person can follow them super easily.”

“I loved this book. I had no idea that American and French culture was so different! I thought this would be a book about how the kids eat well, but it is more than that. It is the story of adjusting to a different culture, one that is quite blunt in what is proper and what is not…. Oh, and the recipe for “Sophie’s spinach surprise” is delicious!”

“I liked that she both embraced the French food culture and questioned it as well, and acknowledged that there are clear cultural differences in what the French value and what North Americans value. What I mean is that the message of this book is not, like so many books about the French diet, “The French are better.” Her message is that there are things that North Americans can learn from the French, especially the way they teach their children to enjoy a variety of healthy foods and the social pleasure taken from good quality food savored with family and friends.”

“Unlike some of the other books about picky eaters I’ve read, this one was actually pleasant to read and didn’t have a totally condescending tone. I was surprised to find that many of the author’s kids’ eating issues were very similar to the ones in our house, and that her solutions weren’t too far off from the more successful things we’ve tried. I enjoyed her anecdotes about life in France as a foreign mom.”

“This was a fabulous book that really opened my eyes not only to the importance of training our kids to eat well, but a different way to teach them to look at eating. We have already made some of these changes in our house and see a difference in all of us. Eating is now a more enjoyable time, we are connecting more, and some of my picky ones are being more adventurous. Definitely recommend it.”

“As a completely un-closeted francophile and someone with a semi-choosy 6 year-old, plus many clients with picky kids, I found your book incredibly helpful in crystallizing what I believe about food and eating.”

41 thoughts on “Comments from Readers

  1. Thank you very much for this book. I don’t have any kid yet but I am so happy that I read your book before because healthy food is so important topic for me..! And I see so many children who refuse food (and especially healty food) every day. So,thank you, I’ll use your tips and discuss about it with everyone who cares about emotional eating.


  2. I’m an in the middle of your book and I must say it is completely changing my view on food and they ways families should approach eating. I grew up in Midwest America and all of the stereotypes you speak of with eating food the American way exists in my family and with most of the people I know and grew up with. While I do not have children yet, my husband and I are what I would call “novice foodies” and are captivated by tasting menus and trying different recipes at home. So although I cannot relate on the parenting level yet, your writing is extremely captivating and I am enjoying not only the description of French food and how it is healthy and tastes good but the overall description of French culture which until now remained mostly a mystery to me and is extremely fascinating! Do know that you have set the stage for my parenting approach and my husband and I plan to try this method from the get go! I know you have some recipes in the back of your book, but I was wondering if there are some other cookbooks that you could recommend? You consistently mention that the French meals are generally quick to prepare, contain variety and are healthy. I’d like to get my hands on a few cookbooks with such recipes. Perhaps the ones your family/friends recommended you when you decided to take the plunge into French eating? It would be much appreciated!! Also just a suggestion, if your husband’s family and friends have this many great recipes, have you thought of publishing a cookbook with them? I would buy it!! Please also let me know if there is any group you have trying to spread these ideas on the western front (i.e. making healthy food more affordable, changing the ways schools serve food, etc.) I would like to see where I can contribute.


  3. Dear Claudia
    Unfortunately my book isn’t translated into French or Spanish yet. (Malheureusement, mon livre n’est pas encore traduit en français ou en espagnol.)
    I will announce it on the blog when (if) it happens!
    Merci beaucoup,


  4. Just finished your book—FABULOUS! It was recommended on a friend’s blog and I can see why. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am lucky to have found your book now, with an 11 month old, and a new one coming shortly, I can start them young. I will definitely be recommending this to friends as too many of them complain, “my children will only eat ______.” Thank you again!


  5. Bonjour Karen. Je suis chilienne et mon mari à lu ton livre en anglais, et il a vu la lumière. Je voudrais savoir si ton livre est traduit a l’ espagnol ou au français, parce que je ne comprends pas très bien l’anglais. Je te remercie.
    Au revoir
    Claudia de la Fuente


  6. great book, i picked up this book to see what it had to offer and perhaps add it to my parenting ‘aresenal’ lol…. great stuff, im us american, and I found the french approach to food refreshing and very helpful to the child and the parent. For any other parents out there reading this the “BABYWISE” and “CHILDWISE” books are a GREAT companion to the philosophy behind FRENCH KIDS. While I dont think i will be planning my entire day/life around meals, I certainly am going to adopt many of the french customs regarding food! :)))))) -katherine, San Diego CA


  7. I also have a 22 months son and after reading your book, it changes the way I am giving my son food. He is always a chubby little boy but a very picky eater. When he approached his first birthday, I started to realize he is very picky with his food options.
    And it is getting worst . He now only eat if I turned TV on while I tried my best to put as much food for him. It turned to such a bad habit that I know I need to change. I said no to tv, encourage him to taste and look at his food. However, he can only stay in his chair 5 mins. He tasted 3 spoons then off. Even we tried to ignore him and keep eating family dinner, he doesnt seem bother and running around. I am now very worry as I feel 22 months is too small to try ” French method”? As he hasn’t fully understand what I am saying and how to ask him to stay in his chair longer?


  8. I am so glad I came across your book. I grew up in a Cuban American home where we were encouraged to taste everything before we could say we didn’t like it. The result is I can go anywhere in the world and eat almost anything. (On my first visit to Cuba, my relatives were amazed at how I could speak Spanish fluently and eat the same foods). Our daily dinners were a family occasion with the table set. Cuban dishes were slow cooked dishes of rice, beans, and soups. Snacks were not the norm in our home. I married a wonderful Cape Verdean who enjoys formal family dining every evening. Soups and stews are apart of the diet. Yet, I have the same problem you experienced with your children. My son is a finicky eater; dinner parties are a problem. When we visited my mother-in-law in Portugal a few years ago, she also chided me on my son’s eating habits. She told my husband that chicken fingers and fries was not an acceptable dinner. Although, he is 8 years old now, I’m going to try some of your approaches and not give up. He loves to travel. I shared with him that not all places have a McDonalds. His response: “There are McDonalds in over 180 countries in the world”. (How does he know this? He’s been brainwashed). My response: “There’s no McDonalds in Cape Verde”. Thank you for reminding me of the many pleasant times I spent around the dinner table enjoying good conversation and a savory, satisfying Cuban meal with my parents and siblings. I want my son to embrace his Cuban-Cape Verdean-American heritage. Besides he’s a New Yorker; he’s as international as it gets.


  9. Hello
    I recently read your book and I was amazed how many different things french children eat. It really inspired me to try lots of things with my daughter, which is 20 month.
    Its a fabulous book, I even buy them now as a present for friends.
    Unfortunatly I am still struggling with giving my daughter bread. Any kind(!) of bread she refuses. Was wondering if your daughter got better with bread, as you mentioned you had the same issue.
    Would be grateful for any advise


  10. Felicitations!
    Les francais l’ont compri – les bonnes habitudes alimentaires s’aquierent pendant l’enfance. Ici au Canada anglais beaucoup des parents et des centres a la petite enfance (garderies) proposent des menus faciles et amusants pour les enfants, voient les repas comme un jeu et deguisent la nourriture au lieu de la mettre en valeur.
    Heureusement qu’il y a des gens comme vous qui font une differnce. A la garderie Petit bateau mon enfant a apprit pas seulement la langue francaise, mais aussi les bonnes habitudes allimentaires.
    Donc, je vois crois car je vois la difference, j’ai eu la chance de trouver un petit coin francais pour mon enfant ici et je m’estime chanceuse.
    Merci d’ecrire sur ce sujet si important,


  11. Dear Karen,

    I am not finished reading your wonderful book yet but want to share a little bit of experience that we have had with incorporating food appreciation in our children’s lives.

    When my children were quite young, ages 3 1/2, 6 and 8, a friend told me that their family devised a system where their children took turns planning, shopping for and executing the Saturday night dinner. We implemented the same system with wonderful results over several years starting with very simple menus which became increasingly sophisticated. It made Saturday nights very special as the whole family encouraged and expressed appreciation and enthusiasm for the “chef of the night”. As they became teenagers and social schedules interfered, the Saturday night ritual fell apart but the children took it further on their own initiative whenever a suitable occasion occurred, devising printed menus and sophisticated table settings. We have encouraged other families to try the same system with similar results.

    We have inherited another daughter since then and the children are now 28, 25, 22 and 19. My son (25) phoned last week for advice on his bread baking (coarse, moist crumb consistency) and to get the family favourite banana quick bread recipe before his sister (22) arrived for a banana bread show-down (they are both students at Concordia in Montreal). The 28 year old cooked her first Thanksgiving dinner in Victoria this past fall and phoned to give a “play by play”.

    I heartily believe your message about the central theme of linking food and pleasure and the role that it plays in physical and emotional health and well-being. In my work as an agricultural economist and food activist, I have long believed that food appreciation is intrinsic to a healthy, viable food production economy. I take delight in educating audiences of 300-500 twice daily during the 5 day 100 Mile iron Chef competition that takes place during our local agricultural fair. Books like yours are a tremendous boost to the work I do in bringing people to understand and appreciate good food! Thank you so much!

    PS Roast cauliflower in bite-size pieces with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse salt for 25-30 minutes at 400F (stirring after 12-15 minutes) for a delicious treat! We used to eat cauliflower 1-2x/year and now eat it 1-2x/week in the fall and winter!


  12. I am in the process of reading this book now and am really enjoying it. I like the anecdotal style of writing as well as the way each point is clearly laid out for the reader.
    There is only one thing that I have found slightly irksome in the course of the reading I have done thus far (I’m approx. 2/3 of the way done).
    To me, it feels as though Ms. Le Billon is an American speaking to an American audience. In her bio it states that she was born in Montreal and that she divides her time between Vancouver and France. So, she’s Canadian. As a Canadian myself, I would have appreciated if she would have been a bit more honest in her writing.
    At times she speaks about Americans directly and in other instances she uses the more general term “North American” to which it seems obvious that she means, Canadians and Americans. The only problem with trying to do this is that, Canada and the United States are not the only two countries in North America. I doubt that a lot of what she has shared applies to Mexicans.
    This is not a huge deal but, to me, it comes off looking like she decided to say “American” rather than “Canadian” in order to boost book sales.
    This leaves me slightly irked but the information provided is definitely helpful enough to overlook what I consider to be a minor discrepancy.


  13. THANK YOU. I actually bought this book on a whim and I am so pleased that I did. I couldn’t put it down, it is such a pleasure to read. The advise is sensible and inspirational, written in an interesting way. A brilliant mix of cosy, homely family advise combined with hard statistics. My little girl is 2 and has just started refusing foods…many of your rules correspond with ideas I have been thinking about for a while but didn’t have the confidence to impliment. Your book provides me with a safety-net of confidence to change. Hopefully, it will also help me stop being a fussy eater too!


  14. Thanks so much for your lovely message! I love everything you are doing–so wonderful for the children.(Amazing that the mousse recipe is ‘just like home’–what a wonderful compliment! 😉 )

    Hope to connect at some point — would love a dinner. In the meantime, I would love a guest post about your experiences. Would you be interested? If so, please email me at: Merci beaucoup!


  15. Bonjour Karen,
    I just finish your book, and I loved it for many reasons:
    first I am french(from Nantes) and I moved in Canada 8 years ago with my two children and my husband. So I love all your comments on the french way of living, the food education that is so rooted there. I loved how you nicely put together, your experience, the comment of people you’ve meet and some more nutritional /specialists references and of course you openess to welcome all of that. Well done also for you recipes at the end, because when I moved in Canada it was a great challenge to do my recipe from France, the ingredients, the cups versus grams everything was so different. So i loved that you’ve transfer the french recipe with the food we find here (ex; Baker’s chocolat…I try the mousse au chocolat…just like home!)
    Your book was for me a great way to understand better my own french structure around food, and to be more aware of the food culture here and my role toward my children. I am also working as educational assistant in a playschool program, one of my role is to plan and make a snack for the kids (33 – 4 years old kids) every day. We have many immigrant families, so each kids come with his own food history. This year I want to include more the parents, so some parents are going to come and do a traditional recipe with the kids, I have a board in the classroom where I put nutritional information, pictures of the kids cooking or discovering a fruit or a vegetable, a project for a garden…. I am so agree with you that we need to improve the lunch at school for our kids in Canada, let me know of any ideas. For now I am looking for more info , recipe for the kids lunch boxes and at my school kids I wrote a message on the monthly newsletter to invite parents to share their ideas, comments around lunch boxes, hopefully it will bring more questions, more cultural exchanges.
    Last spring I brought my kids to our community center because they were having a garden day, and every kids was invited to plant seeds in the big planters of the community. I “felt in love with this sweet old man that was showing the kids what to do and smoothly coordinating the event. This man just brought back all the great memories I have gardening with my grand-parents when I was a child. And this man is you dad, after sharing this moment with him he told me about you and your book, Thank you very much!
    I would love to invite you pour diner a la francaise with your family when you come here!
    Thanks again for inspiring me with your book.


  16. The title of your book caught my eye at the library yesterday afternoon. I finished reading it this morning while my kids were getting ready for school. (I stayed up til 0100 “working” on it back up at 6 to finish!) Several of your methods we had already unknowingly been incorporating trying to get our daughters to eat better. They’re 10 and 8. A year ago the 10 year old wouldn’t eat anything that didn’t have ranch on it. There is no longer ranch in the house, or even asked for!!!!! HALLELUJAH!!! I’m really interested in trying some of these recipes. I’m not a very adventurous eater myself, but I think I’ll have to give it ago. (I just ate sweet potatoes for the first time last year. lol.)
    We are pregnant with our next child and I look forward to incorporating more of these methods with him so that we can head off some of the issues we’ve had with the girls early.
    I know that the year in France could not have been easy on your family. However, please know that you’re going to be able to reach a lot of people with this book and I dare say it was worth the heartache of that year. THANK YOU!!!!


  17. So glad you enjoyed the book. You’re right – it’s a huge challenge to create a healthy eating routine when the surrounding culture has ‘deregulated’ or ‘disordered’ (that’s what scientists call it!) eating habits. I’m writing a new ‘parenting’ book on precisely this topic, because I hope that it will enable concerned parents like you to spark a conversation with those around them about changing habits. For example, our daughter’s sports team now serves fruit only snacks after games. But I know it’s not easy! The idea of a “Just Say No….to Snacking” campaign doesn’t necessarily resonate with everyone. I’m thinking we need an online support group for parents who feel this way! 😉


  18. I checked your book out at the library, and liked it so much I bought a copy to read at home and share with my friends. My seven-year-old daughter is (by American standards, anyway) a relatively adventurous eater – she has eaten and enjoys artichokes, Brussels sprouts, kale and chicken hearts. She even tried escargot on a vacation to Montreal a few years ago.

    Recently, however, we have struggled with snacking – her teacher asks us to provide two snacks each day which I find excessive for kids who get on the bus at 8am, eat lunch at 11 and are home by 3:35. My daughter also has fallen into the habit of having a snack (usually fruit, but still…) before bed. As a result, she doesn’t eat as much as she should at lunch and dinner.

    After reading your book, we have started changing our routine a bit. She enjoys her “gootay” at 4pm (I try to make appetizer-sized portions of foods with some protein/fat that will hold her for a few hours), then we eat our dinner around 7:00 or 7:30, with bedtime at 8:30. It seems to be helping all of us reduce our late evening snacking.

    Snacking is SO pervasive in American culture, though, that it really is difficult to stick to the French model. Just this past weekend, my daughter had a soccer game at 8:30 (cupcakes handed out at 9:45), followed by a trip to our town’s annual fair (we passed on the food vendors, but she was given candy and other treats at many of the booths we visited). After lunch she had a two-hour Girl Scout event at a local farm (where they frosted and decorated cookies!) and then a Halloween party and potluck, which of course, featured even more sugary/junk “foods”. It’s such a struggle to help her learn to eat well when everything around us is working against that.


  19. Hi Karen – so glad you found the site! I agree — it’s a great resource to use for teaching French. Each school in France has menus posted online (either by the municipality, or by the individual school). If you google ‘cantine scolaire Paris menu’ you will find many sites, including this one: Click on the ‘menu’ button (on the right) and you can download September’s menu! You could combine this with a geography lesson – asking kids to choose different towns or villages in France, and checking out their lunch menus. Happy reading!
    ps And, if you’re interested, I would love a guest post from you (and/or from some of your students) with thoughts on the menus and the French approach to food education. Email me: if you are interested!


  20. Bonjour! I’m a french teacher at a school in Brooklyn, and I stumbled upon your site this morning before classes started. I can’t wait to show my students. I was wondering if you had any go-to sites you would recommend where my students could read the menus in French? Thanks, Karen in Brooklyn


  21. I love your idea that picky eating is from fear of new things! I hadn’t thought of it that way before. My picky eater has that problem in general, and we’ve helped her through it quite well in other areas. “Yes, you must move on to a new song once you have completed this one on your violin.” etc. I’m starting to feel hopeful that she will like more foods once they are not new anymore, and we will have some fun on that journey there. Thank you again!


  22. Amazing! In fact, I know a couple of ten year-olds who have read the book–and apparently loved it. Perhaps it would be an idea to invite her to read it? Good luck, and I’d love to hear how it goes!


  23. I just started the book, and am already inspired! I teased my picky eater, who is ten, that I found a book with some ideas to help her eat more foods. I expected a crusty look, but she lit up and said,” Oh really?”. It really grabbed my heart that she wanted to change. I’m a family doc, and we eat really healthy as a group, but she has limited her food to a lot of plain carbs. I’ll keep reading! AND my kids want to try Sophie’s spinach surprise.


  24. Sounds like we’re twins! 😉 So glad that your new routine is working well. We took a while to make the switch, but (as you read in the book) we’re glad we did!

    Cooking camps: we found out about them because some of our nieces and nephews took them! Try searching ‘sejours de vacances culinaires enfants’, or ‘colonies de vacances cuisine’, or ‘stages culinaires enfants’ (not ‘camps’).

    For example, here is one place that hosts your child (6 to 12 years old) for a week, with sports and cooking lessons, at a summer camp in a small village in southern France. How cool is that!?

    And here are some more:

    Hope this helps! If you do end up having your kids attend, I’d love to hear how it goes!


  25. Hi Stacy! Thanks so much for your comments – that’s amazing that the book has had such an effect.

    And I LOVE your blog! Great post on ‘healthy alternatives’ for school celebrations this week. Keep me posted on your family food adventures! 🙂


  26. My mother and I read your book at the same time. She kept accusing me of being the author because my 2 girls are about the same difference in age as yours and the older one is, and always has been, a picky eater. I also live in France. Thanks to you I’ve had to reluctantly agree that the French are right and that, in general, snacking is to be avoided. Most importantly, we have moved our kids’ dinner back from 5:30/6:00pm to closer to 7:00-7:30 when we eat as a family and in so doing have skipped their bedtime snack. This has been working very well!

    You mentioned in your book cooking camps for kids. I’ve become obsessed by the idea, but my google search attempts have only yielded local ateliers and regular camps. Please, please tell me how you heard of them and how I might find one for my kids!


  27. I agree with the other readers: This book is transforming my life. I have three children (a 6-year-old boy and 4-year-old boy/girl twins). Last night, we had salmon, roasted potatoes and green beans for dinner. My 4-year-old daughter ate every bite. Her twin brother ate everything but the green beans. My 6-year-old (who had just attended a sugar-filled birthday party) at least ate the salmon. Best of all, no complaints!! In the past week, I have added dried figs and apricots, pistachios and goat cheese to my kids’ “will eat” list. I recently started a blog about improving school food and healthy eating for kids. Can’t wait to share this book with my readers (I’ve already been blabbing about it to anyone who will listen around town). I welcome anyone interested in having better fed kids at school to join the conversation on my blog or Facebook page!


  28. Gracias Karen,
    I read your book in about 3 days, I could not put it down, you reminded me to go back to the way I was raised in Venezuela and eat only proper food together as a family. You brought happiness back into my life! My kids were not picky eaters, since very young age they were eating a variety of foods like lentils, anchovies filled olives, black beans and fish stews (among other real food) but living in the US made me too weak and allowed my kids to have way too many snacks (pirate booties, cupcakes, and all kind of cookies) between meals, they were never hungry nor I knew it was ok for them to be hungry sometimes. Also, Snapple Pink Lemonade was the drink of choice of my daughters when we ate out. So our life after “Karen le Billon” is: no snacking, we drink water with meals, Mom decides what is for dinner, and we are trying new vegetables every 2 days. They have to wait until everyone is seated at the table to start eating and I brought back the 3 course meal which was a common staple of my childhood (soup, main and fruits). Results I see: I lost 5 pounds (yes I was snacking with them), my 3 daughters are behaving a lot better, and they are willing to try new veggies (watercress soup, mashed parsnip as example). How many times I can say thanks? impossible to count. Wished your book was a mandatory reading for all new mothers so they can see that kids actually eat what parents give them. You broke my heart when you move back to America, you should make a movie about the book, kind of like “Julie and Julia” x kids and I bet people will cry on that part that you and your husband move back.
    The expression: It is OK to be hungry it is a new favorite for me, specially need to use it with my way-too-American husband ;).
    Gracias y Buen Provecho!!


  29. So glad you liked the book! Sorry, I don’t have that recipe on the website (yet), but keep checking back! I am writing a new book with lots of recipes (for publication in 2013) and will be posting some sneak previews this fall. Would love to hear your thoughts if you do try out any of the recipes…


  30. Hi Karen,
    I recently picked up your book and devoured it (pun intended :-)) within a couple of days (despite two little kids running around). I loved every page of it, and it has reminded me of a number of things that have been bothering me lately with the way our family (swiss/canadian) eats and how kids are expected to eat around here. I’m happy to say we’re getting back towards a more normal-to-me appreciation of food, and dinnertime is slowly becoming more of a relaxed family time.
    Do you have the recipe for the apple tartelettes somewhere on this website? I would love to make those for an afternoon snack or dessert some time.
    cheers, and keep up the good work!


  31. I have been struggling to feed my two sons (ages 4 & 7) since my 7 year old turned 2. I thought I was doing the right thing – I made homemade baby food, as they grew, I made (and continue to make) homemade food, I would try to include them in the cooking of the food, setting the table at times, I take them to farms to see where food comes from. With all this effort my kids asked for chicken nuggets (frozen or McDonald’s!), pizza, hot dogs, I started to give in as my efforts to make other food was constantly rejected. My husband and I would get angry and try bribes or threats of no dessert. I would load them up on “healthful” snacks in between meals to make up for what they weren’t eating at meal times. Nothing seemed to work. I read this amazing book a month ago (couldn’t put it down!) and immediately started applying the rules and the attitude of the French and voila my kids are eating! The pickiest of my sons is now eating the delicious home made soups, asking for salad, trying (but not always liking) the new dishes I offer them. No more catering to their uneducated taste buds! It’s a miracle! Merci Karen!


  32. Mrs. Le Billion:

    My kids are all grown up now — and I have no grandchildren waiting in the wings. nonetheless, I am trying to develop more structure within my own eating habits with the ideal of finding longer lasting satiety with the food I prepare and eat. Your book is a true blessing.

    As a professional, I counsel parents through the Public Health Department’s WIC Program. Of course, the problem of picky eating is a topic talked about fairly frequently. As you can imagine, there are lots of issues regarding division of responsibility, too: I try to help parents understand that they can determine what, how, and where a child eats (even a very young child) and it’s up to the child to determine how much she will eat. What I found helpful how you illustrated the daily structure of 4 meals along with the meal structure. You also emphasized that children really can be hungry before they eat, as long as a well-prepared, satisfying meal is conscientiously and consistently provided. My task, now, is to develop menus and recipes for my lower income families that can provide that gustatory satisfaction at as low a cost as possible.

    Another comment about how validating this book has been for me: I became a registered dietitian after having worked in the public school system specifically because of the lunch “issue” that all too often spills into the classroom via the “Post-Lunch stomachache/headache syndrome,” as well as the “ADHD” lack of self-disciplined behavior of so many children: there just had to be a better way to raise our children. Unfortunately, as you have found out, it is difficult to fight the public school bureaucracy. The response I’ve gotten about a schedule similar to that observed in the French school system inevitably points to lack of funds to pay for additional personnel.

    A practicing member of the Slow Food movement, I am firmly behind your efforts to change the status quo of school lunch — so that we might graduate to a culture that is more thoughtful and appreciative.

    Thank you for a book that addresses a critical cultural issue!


  33. I only wish the schools would listen. The Arizona schools are the worst. They have the very worst type of foods on the lunch menu and everything is prepackaged junk food.


  34. This book describes exactly how I feel. The school lunch menus here are HORRIBLE. My daughter just started school and amongst the main dishes they have on the menu are 1) corn dogs 2) cheesy sticks 3) nachos? Really, horrible stuff and I’m sure they don’t prepare any of their menu fresh. What a disappointment for our kids. Kids are eating better in third world countries.


  35. What a great read! I wanted to share how I single handedly change the lunches on my kids school.
    My kids attend an independent Montessori school. Two years ago the hot lunch budget was $35 to feed between 25-50 kids. Commercial chicken nuggets, big pots of pasta or boxed Mac and cheese. As a chef, I never paid for the kids to get hot lunch, they went with a healthy bag lunch. At the urging of some parents, I had a meeting with the head of school. I proposed a menu that paired a familiar favorite-that was homemade with fresh ingredients- with a menu item that might be a new taste for most kids. I ignored the budget of $35. I spent an average of $120 per lunch on ingredients (still only $2-3 per kid and lunches cost $6). Before anyone could stop me I had a following of raving kids and parents. I was deemed the kitchen angel by the 6th grade girls. Parents stopped me in the hall to thank me for getting their child to like beans or tell me that their kids can’t wait to eat lunch every day.
    So now the school is stuck with me! But the administration is happy because no other competing schools in the area can compare to our lunch program.
    I will end by saying that your book inspired me to work on improving my kids table manners and slow down at dinner time. Thank you!


  36. as gramma to a small child that very seldom ever seems to get hungry I loved this book. I wish we all ate the way the French eat, it just makes sense.


  37. Where have you been all my life? I am the mother of a five and a three year old and a nine week old – my eldest daughter has always been very fussy and my son who previously ate pretty much everything has started to copy her – about two weeks ago I wrote down a list of what she ate and it was basically breakfast cereal, plain pasta, rice, bread, toast, tuna, fish fingers and oddly enough, marmite. I started iff when she was a baby, with such good intentions, and i just felt that as the months and years went by i was ground down and I hated it. Anyway, I came across this blog and ordered the book and announced the new rules, and it is honestly changing ever ything – everything – about our approach to food as a family. Our eating habits are complicated by the fact that my husband gets home from work late so I have, up until now, fed the children separately, and then I end up shovelling fish finger leftovers into my mouth standing over the kitchen sink while trying to make ‘adult dinner’ …ugh! No more !!! I cannot tell you how unbelievably happy this food experiment has made me. I thought even if i could keep it up for a few weeks it would make a huge difference but now that we have started i just can’t believe hiw well it is working. I have more time to plan meals, experiment, it has made me scrutinise my own eating habits (appalling – rushed, too many snacks, no planning, no set meal times) and my daughter is proud of herself for trying new things, and actually knowing what is what, asking about what the food is, how it grows etc and mealtimes are not such a battleground any more. Food used to be one of the most contentious topics in our house, and i really feel that it will change, largely because of this! Thank you thank you thank you, for this amazing and confidence inspiring book!


  38. You’ve just saved my life. I’ve been dispairing about my 3 year old daughter who is on the “beige diet” as you describe in your book. I’m Irish living in Ireland and married to a French man. For me the way you explained the history of food culture has really helped me. I just never got it even though I’ve visited France many times. I’m currently in France on hols with my family and my inlaws. my sister in law has been helping me tackle my 3 year old’s bad eating habits. I’m astounded. She’s eating pate to courgettes to crab meat to tomatoes. I can’t believe it. The French take no nonsense. My daughter is so proud of herself. Of course there was some crying but not too much. You inspired me to solve this problem. My 2 older kids are on board too and trying many more types of foods. Thank you for your book and for sharing your experience. I can relax myself now and enjoy the food too! X


  39. I couldn’t put this book down – such an inspiring and interesting read! As a first-time Mum I feel it has stopped me in my tracks as I inadvertently headed down the road of allowing myself to teach my one year-old “emotional eating”. It has encouraged me that I don’t need to “hide” vegetables in meals (as so many childrens’ cook books suggest) but embrace teaching my daughter to love them and look forward to them at meal times. The book is full of useful and practical tips and will no doubt be a family staple! The recipes look tasty and very easy to follow too – when can we look forward to the accompanying cook book?!


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