What food rules do you follow? Not long ago, my daughter gave me French Kids Eat Everything, by Karen Le Billon, 2012. The book brought back
a lot of memories from when I lived in France, spurred discussions with my husband and kids, made me think back to my childhood, and reminded me how chronic dieting-for-weight-loss skewed my view of food and eating.
The essence of the book, written by a Canadian married to a Frenchman, is that we can learn a lot from the French food culture. French parents, aware they are in charge of their kids’ food education, feed their kids healthy foods from the very start. All the kids have to do is go with the flow.
- eat what’s set before them because that’s how they–and their friends—are raised
- eat at mealtimes and do not receive food as rewards
- eat what adults eat
- eat with the family
- eat a variety of veggies
- must taste whatever is served, learn it’s okay not to like something at first and that their tastes will change over time
- don’t snack and learn it’s natural to feel hungry between meals
- learn to eat slowly
- eat mostly real food
- relax while dining
From these habits, French kids grow up with a balanced perspective of food that lets them maximize their dining experiences as well as other activities of the day.
Between diets—in the days when I was a chronic dieter—I lived to eat: I gave myself food as a reward, always snacked between meals, avoided foods I didn’t like, ate fast, majored on processed food, and hardly ever relaxed while eating. No wonder I never felt truly nourished. According to food experts, including the French, eating sensibly means eating to satisfaction. I’m ready to make that my aim, and I’m hungry right now, so I’ll see you later!