This week, our lovely Festival Director Nicola Dufficy read 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 by Karen Le Billon. This book was just released earlier this month by HarperCollins Canada.
About the Book:
“French Kids Eat Everything is a wonderfully wry account of how Karen Le Billon was able to alter her children’s deep-rooted, decidedly unhealthy North American eating habits while they were all living in France. At once a memoir, a cookbook, a how-to handbook, and a delightful exploration of how the French manage to feed children without endless battles and struggles with pickiness, French Kids Eat Everything features recipes, practical tips, and ten easy-to-follow rules for raising happy and healthy young eaters—a sort of French Women Don’t Get Fat meets Food Rules.”
Q & A with Nicola
Q: Why did you read this book?
I was very interested in reading about the author’s approach to introducing a greater variety of food into her kids’ diets, and improving their attitudes towards eating. I liked the fact that she did this by immersing herself in the French food and family culture; learning from a way of life rather than a parenting manual.
Q: Did you enjoy the read?
Yes, I enjoyed reading it. I felt that it was an honest approach; the book didn’t preach to the reader. It was clear that, for the author, changing her family’s eating habits from the North American to the French style was a challenging feat that forced everyone to address long ingrained habits!
One part of the book I particularly enjoyed is the realization that North Americans can have low expectations of what their kids will and are able to eat. The book clearly identifies the logic that if parents don’t believe kids will eat something, then they never will. In North America, it can be commonplace to cook a separate meal for children or offer ‘kid friendly’ food substitutions for items that ‘kids don’t eat’. French parents don’t discriminate between ‘adult’ food and ‘kids’ food – healthy, hearty meals are prepared and everyone is expected to eat the same thing with no fuss and no questions. There is no short order cooking or substitutions (I will eat this, I won’t eat that). There is also no coercion or power games – if the meal isn’t eaten, the child will be hungry! In North America, if kids try something once and don’t like it then parents may assume they don’t like it, will never eat it and, therefore, don’t offer that particular food to the child again. French parents assume that if their kids try something and don’t like it, then they just haven’t tried it enough times to get used to the taste. French parents will continue to introduce this food item into family meals so it becomes familiar and is eventually accepted.
Q: Would you recommend the book?
I would definitely recommend this book because it gives a differing perspective on how parents can teach their kids about food, family food culture, and change some negative attitudes!