Get Your Kids to Eat Everything, the French Way
How a year in France cured my family of picky eaters
Now, learning this secret was not the reason we moved to France. I am not a foodie, and Philippe is one of the rare French men I’ve met who has relatively little interest in food (which helps explain why he could entertain the thought of marrying a foreigner). I had little desire to improve my cooking skills; if anything, the thought of having to cook
French food ﬁlled me with a vague sense of dread.
But living in France awakened my interest in how French parents educate their children about food. I began to ask questions, and also to voice my objections. My kids won’t eat that way! It’s too expensive! I don’t have the time! Luckily, discussing food is the national hobby of the French. So when I asked questions, people were only too willing to talk.
From my many conversations with parents and teachers, doctors and scientists (and from the research I did to back up what I was hearing) I learned that feeding children well doesn’t need to be conflict-ridden or complicated. And I learned simple tricks for teaching children to enjoy eating a wide variety of foods. I also learned that nutrition and healthy eating habits, while important, don’t need to be the main focus. Rather, enjoying your food is the focus, and healthy eating habits are a happy byproduct.
This view (food is fun!) helped inspire our family to reinvent the way we eat. Over the course of our year in France, we discovered ten French Kids’ Food Rules—which we adapted to life in North America when we returned home. Applying these rules challenged some of my most deeply held beliefs about children, food, and parenting. This was sometimes uncomfortable, but our quest to reinvent our family’s food culture was also an experience that brought us closer together. I was inspired by seeing the French families all around us who fostered a healthy love of food—and a love of healthy food—in their children.
The foregoing is excerpted from French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.
Karen Le Billon is the mother of two young daughters. An author and teacher, she is a Rhodes Scholar with a PhD from Oxford University. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Independent and Dissent Magazine. She tweets at @karenlebillon, and her weekly posts about French school lunch menus can be found on her blog at frenchkidseateverything.com.