I love when you read a book, and for months after reading it, you end up quoting it to people. That’s what’s been happening to me and French Kids Eat Everything. I find myself in conversation saying things like, “Did you know that in France, children eat the same food as adults? There’s no kids’ menu! Their cafeteria menu sounds amazing – nothing like what we had when we were kids!” Or, “When I have kids, I’m really hoping to discourage snacking. And, I’m definitely going to make them try every vegetable a dozen times. At least. I want them to be adventurous like I was.”
I fell for this book, and I fell hard.
I’m about one year out from getting married right now, and a few years after that, we’ll probably start having kids. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the food my future (currently imaginary) kids eat is probably my biggest anxiety. Sure, I can control what they eat at home, but what about at their friends’ house, or their school, or what they choose to purchase with their allowance? How do I encourage good eating habits at a young age?
What I found comforting about French Kids Eat Everything was that French parents would never once say that a certain food was one that was “not meant for kids.” Every food is a possibility and, no matter how young, kids are expected to like eating every food. If they don’t like it, you just haven’t given it to them enough times yet.
I also was comforted that there is a country full of people that appreciate true good food, that urge meals to be slow and enjoyable, and place emphasis on real healthy food in schools, unlike our country, which calls pizza a vegetable. They also don’t believe in snacking or junk food. What didn’t comfort me is that I don’t live in a country like this.
The rules in French Kids are a great discussion builder for families trying to encourage a new attitude towards eating. Banning snacking, eating slowly & mindfully, and trying all the food that’s on your plate – these are all great rules. I walked away from the book inspired.
French Kids Eat Everything was what encouraged us to do the mindful eating in the first place, which went pretty well. I’m also hoping to do a “no snacking” challenge later in the month. Like I said, all of the tips are encouraging and seem like rules I’d be able to implement in a home when I have children. The hard part is going outside of the home and expecting other parents to have the same understanding. Some parents may give my future children cookies as snacks, when I’d prefer they eat apples. My kid may forget their lunch and have to eat cafeteria food, which might not be as healthy. Heck, they might trade in their packed lunch for a Lunchables meal for all I know. The most important thing is to apply as many rules as possible without being too forceful (kids like to rebel – they might go on a sugary cereal bender), and at the same time, don’t slip into bad habits just because they’re all around you.
America seems to be changing bit by bit. Fed Up just came out in May and got me all riled up, and moms all over the country are taking a stand against less-than-perfect school lunches. Until things really change, I’m going to keep these rules close at hand and enjoy the book for what it is – a list of rules that, in a perfect world, would make for the healthiest, happiest family ever.
Next up, I’ll be writing about Salt Sugar Fat, which I started reading last month. Make sure to pick it up if you haven’t already – it’s a bestseller, and is chock-full of inside information about many of the food giants. Definitely not one to miss!