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French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters Paperback – May 6, 2014
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“It takes a brave couple to move two picky–eater kids into a French small town and convert them to foodie omnivores. We have much to learn from European food traditions, and the contrast between French and North American school lunches is a striking example. A must–read for teachers and parents.” (Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of What to Eat)
“Humorous as well as instructive, this culinary adventure will change the lives of parents and children alike. . . . Karen Le Billon and her children learn that it’s okay to feel hungry between meals, turn to mindful eating, and learn the importance of enjoying one’s food.” (Patricia Wells, author of The Provence Cookbook)
“This book is not only about how to teach children (and yourself) to eat well and happily for life, it’s a book about how to help build and maintain the foundations of any civilized society. I loved it. Essential reading, whether you have children or not.” (Laura Calder, author of Dinner Chez Moi and host of French Food at Home)
“A wonderful—and important—book. One family’s topsy-turvy culinary transformation becomes an in-depth exploration of the habits that have kept French kids loving food (and eating spinach) for centuries.” (Elizabeth Bard, author of Lunch in Paris)
“A fascinating and valuable read.” (Lynne Rossetto Kasper)
“A breezy but practical volume for hurried parents looking to keep their kids well-fed. . . . [The] tone is straightforward, generous, and gentle. That Le Billon concludes with a small collection of kid-friendly recipes makes this foodie manifesto all the more accessible.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Le Billon . . . strategically identified questions she faced while living abroad: Why were French kids tidier eaters? Why did they sit quietly at restaurants? Why did her daughter’s teacher suggest she see a therapist when she wanted to pack her school lunch?” (BonAppetit.com)
“Portrays the stark contrast between French foodways— valuing communal meals, diverse foods and good taste— and Americans’ round-the-clock snacking and narrow, market-driven tastes…We now have the occasional course that lets us glimpse the soul nourishment that marks the French approach to food.” (Portland Press Herald)
From the Back Cover
Moving her young family to her husband's hometown in northern France, Karen Le Billon expected some cultural adjustment. But she didn't expect to be lectured for slipping her fussing toddler a snack, or to be forbidden from packing her older daughter a school lunch. Karen is intrigued by the fact that French children happily eat everything—from beets to broccoli, from salad to spinach—while French obesity rates are a fraction of what they are in North America.
Karen soon begins to see the wisdom in the "food rules" that the French use to foster healthy eating habits and good manners in babies and children. Some of the rules call into question both our eating habits and our parenting styles. Other rules evoke commonsense habits that we used to share but have somehow forgotten. Taken together, the rules suggest that we need to dramatically rethink the way we feed children, at home and at school.
Combining personal anecdotes with practical tips and appetizing recipes—including Zucchini and Spinach Puree and Bouillabaisse (Fish Soup) for Babies—French Kids Eat Everything is a humorous, provocative look at families, food, and children that is filled with inspiration and advice that every parent can use.
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Americans snack constantly. Most of their calories are from junk, "fake" food. Most restaurants are some variant of Fast Food (especially Chili's and Olive Garden types, that cook prepackaged meals passed off as real dishes), and they eat out a LOT! Kids are constantly walking around with some bag of something in their hands. Corporations have caught on and pacify parents with things like "Organic Fruit Rollups". And we have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker. Schools especially, even Pre-K, where the kids are fed Animal Crackers as a morning snack and corporate marketing tools are drilled into them.
We tried several books that typically resulted in bribery, punishment, reward, or becoming a line-cook and making separate meals for the kids. It seemed ridiculous because we were eating so much better than our own child. Other parents were of little help, because they all had the same problem with no solutions.
By instituting some of the rules outlined in this book, we've changed our household dramatically. We stopped the fighting. We cooked good meals and started eating together, more slowly, enjoying conversation. We eliminated snacks from our house. We encouraged her to try everything, but didn't force her to eat it (a "taste" was acceptable, it would reappear on her plate some other night). One snack a day, between lunch and dinner, and only fruit/yogurt/cheese/applesauce/etc. Desserts were for special meals and occasions (where it had previously been a reward for choking down a sliver of carrot). If she didn't eat, fine, the plate was taken away when the meal was over and she could wait until her next meal. No snacks! (Very quickly, she finally stormed into the kitchen, took back her plate and happily ate everything she had 20 minutes ago declared "yucky!") We started formal dinners once a week to have fun dressing up the table. She was encouraged to help with the cooking more. Eating is supposed to be FUN and enjoyable!
Finally, we changed ourselves. We took the time in the morning to make meals and eat together, as well as the evening dinner. We stopped letting ourselves get frustrated, because we knew that we weren't starving her (plenty of yummy food was being served), and eventually she would eat when she got hungry and realized that no, a cookie or box of crackers would never be coming.
I recommend this book to every parent.
The book reads like a story or novel, it's not preachy like a how-to. The author is humble about her own experiences, and it makes the information very easy to digest. I would STRONGLY recommend to anyone getting ready to start baby on solids, has picky toddlers, or is looking for a more broad perspective on food education for themselves. If it didn't look to presumptuous, I would gift this book to every new parent I know. I think food habits in our life are that important. Below is a list of foods my son regularly eats without protest or complaint:
- eggs (prepared any way)
- brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, squash, pumpkin and more...
- olive tapenade
- all fruits I've ever offered including dragon fruit, avocado, figs, berries, and more...
- all kinds of protein including goose, venison, beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, meatballs, meatloaf, beans and more...
- hummus, feta & goat cheese, Tzatziki Sauce
- rice, oatmeal, quinoa, flax, barley
I can go on and on, but you get the idea. People watch him eat and are amazed. I attribute this all to this book. No joke. Meals are so enjoyable- never any angry protest or me having to be a short-order cook.
Most recent customer reviews
Helpful rules for eating times/amounts/snacks etc.Read more