Book Review: French Kids Eat Everything

Author: Karen Le Billon

This was a super fascinating view on the differences in attitude towards food between Western Culture and French culture. At the heart was a family story about the challenges in moving to a new country and adjusting to a new lifestyle. The author's determination shines throughout, and so does the beautiful (and seemingly idyllic) food culture that exists in France.

Some things I learnt from the book:
  • It's pretty weird to have regular snacking between meals in France. The only socially acceptable snack is the gouter (after school snack) which usually consists of some bread and butter or fruits to tide you over to dinner time. Food isn't a cure for boredom, anxiety or depression. It's for nutritive reasons and it isn't seen as a substitute for emotional counselling 
  • It's ok to feel hungry (not starving) sometimes. The stomach is believed to be like a muscle that needs to rest just like all our other muscles. Be conscious of the amount you're eating and whether you are satisfied or full and that sense should help regulate the amount you eat at meal times
  • Our culture largely defines our attutitudes towards food and the food habits we fall into. The French believe (and there is apparently an extensive body of research that proves this) children need to taste new foods 10 - 15 times before they can learn to like a food. When a child rejects something they eat it for the first time, it does not mean they do not like it, it just means they have not tried it enough times
  • French food doesn't have to be super fancy and hard to make. The best things are often the simplest when done well
  • Enjoyment and pleasure are the goal of eating. As long as you eat a diverse rainbow of fruits and vegetables and a variety of proteins in moderation, the focus is on being grateful for the fresh produce in front of you, without the obsession over whether you're getting all the micronutrients, vitamins and minerals we are taught to include in out diets
There were so many other lessons I learnt from this book, like planning meals in advance to ensure variety and enjoying the whole process of a meal, including the preparation. Of course all this advice should be taken with a grain of salt because the methods aren't going to suit every lifestyle and culture and the author deals with this problem when she moves back to Canada.*

I would recommend this book for anyone wondering why some people are fussy eaters and some are not. It's also for parents, but as I'm not one, I would recommend it to anyone wanting to read about a different attitude towards food, away from the fad diets and nutrition advice we are exposed to regularly.

If you would like to learn more about this subject, I recommend the following links: 

David Lebovitz: A lifestyle blog about an American living in Paris, he's written an amazing range of cook books - I've got the ice cream book and I don't even have an ice cream machine!

Karen Le Billon: The author's own site with blog posts and taste training plans for kids

Where to buy: The Book Depository

Thanks so much for reading, From Jen

*Disclaimer: Please consult a doctor before deciding to embark on any special diets. I am not a doctor. Just saying. 

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