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French Kids Eat Everything

Have you heard about this book, 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? (Yes, mega long title.)

My mother-in-law and I had a field day about this topic and the author.

So…you have to be French in order for your kids not to be picky eaters?

We think not!

I’ve been parenting since 1999. My mother-in-law has been at it since 1973…and probably a bit earlier since she’s the oldest of 4 other siblings.

Even though we are both fascinated with the French language, French culture, and French cuisine – we do not think  the French parenting style is the only way to cure picky eating.

Here’s why…

We do not make food a big deal in our multigenerational nest. Even with my youngest following an avoidance diet due to his allergies – we don’t make eating dramatic, drawn out, or adversarial – between the grownups and the kids.

The two kids are involved in grocery  shopping, couponing, cookbook browsing, and cooking the meals. They see food as a way to be together with the family, nourish their bodies, travel to different countries (right at our dinner table) and try something different.

We have not had any issues about eating fruits and vegetables because our approach to food – overall – is about healthy eating.

I think back to last night’s dinner…the kids were arguing over who got to eat the last Brussels sprout. On a different night – the broccoli (or “trees” as my youngest calls it) was devoured so quickly, my mother-in-law realized she should have cooked more.

When my kids were able to move to solids, when they were babies, hubby made their baby food and it was vegetable based. There were no issues there – except the clean up of smooshed squash or smeared sweet potatoes (to name a few veggies).

When my oldest was about four-years-old, our family was invited to a dinner party. My friend called ahead and asked what she could prepare that was “kid friendly”. I promptly informed her we did not make separate meals for our daughter.

At the time we would take a portion of certain foods out of the batch so it wasn’t too spicy for her – but it was still the same meal.

My friend was surprised and shocked. She said she had been cooking specialized meals for her four kids, her husband, and herself for over 15 years.

I’m sorry, but I think that’s nuts, and I don’t have the time or patience to do that.

I think Karen Le Billon, the author, offers some good tips about helping kids develop a positive relationship with food – but she’s not saying anything earth shattering or new.

In all honestly, I think she learned more about her role in being in the parenting driver’s seat – in working with and raising her own children – than about picky eating and the French.

Parents should be the guides for their children, model healthy eating habits, and discuss ways to try out new things. I’m not sure why Karen Le Billon seemed so fascinated by this. It’s what parents, French or otherwise, do.

For our multigenerational nest, we have the following food expectations:

  • Select healthy snacks. (The fruit bowl, on our counter, is always full.)
  • Be gracious to the person who prepared the meal.
  • The food that is prepared is all that is available to eat.
  • Make sure the food items are “Kingston friendly”. (That’s for my son with the food allergies.)
  • Try a little of everything.

 How do you handle picky eating? As Karen Le Billon asserts, do you think the French are the go-to culture to cure picky eating?

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