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

Overview

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 ...

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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

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

BonAppetit.com
“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?”
Marion Nestle
“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.”
Patricia Wells
“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.”
Laura Calder
“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.”
Elizabeth Bard
“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.”
Lynne Rossetto Kasper
“A fascinating and valuable read.”
BonAppetit.com
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?
Publishers Weekly
Part cultural study, memoir, and children's food guide, Le Billon's book is a breezy but practical volume for hurried parents looking to keep their kids well-fed. A mother of two young girls (Sophie and Claire), the author recalls the year her family lived in Pléneuf Val-André, France, her husband Philippe's hometown on the Brittany coast. She compares North American eating habits (e.g., fast-food consumption, constant snacking) to French norms they learned along the way—"French parents gently compel their children to eat healthy food. They expect their kids to eat everything they are served, uncomplainingly." In due time, Le Billon (Eau Canada) drafts a set of rules for her daughters, strategies she believes readers can easily follow as well—parents should "schedule meals and menus;" "Kids should eat what adults eat: no substitutes and no short-order cooking;" and perhaps most importantly: parents "are in charge of food education!" Her tone is straightforward, generous, and gentle. That Le Billon concludes with a small collection of kid-friendly recipes—including a Five-Minute Fish en Papillote and Clafoutis (sweet cherry soufflé)—makes this kid-friendly foodie manifesto all the more accessible. (Apr. 3)
Library Journal
More than 50 years ago, families ate meals together at the table on a regular schedule, children weren't served separate meals, and snacking between meals wasn't rampant. When food advocate Le Billon (environment & sustainability, Univ. of British Columbia) moved her half-Canadian, half-French family to France, she was surprised to find out that this is how the French still live. Quickly acknowledging that her child-centered method of parenting has spawned two picky eaters, she embarked on a yearlong food experiment to analyze the French culture of parenting and food and devised ten French "food rules." In her view, French parents are stricter, more demanding, and less indulgent than North American parents and, as a result, she concludes, French children have more self-control at the table and eat what is served to them. After a year of food-related misunderstandings, arguments, gaffes, and faux pas, the family moved back to Canada, where Le Billon unsuccessfully tried to institute the French food rules at her daughter's school. VERDICT By the end, Le Billon's obsession with French food culture and French children who obediently enjoy eating everything they are served becomes both annoying and exhausting. Parents looking to experiment with diet changes may wish to focus on the last chapter, which summarizes Le Billon's rules.—Pauline Baughman, Multnomah Cty. Lib., Portland, OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062103307
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 322,350
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Bakker Le Billon is a professor at the University of British Columbia, and was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2011. A Rhodes Scholar with a Ph.D. from Oxford, she has published five academic books and Getting To Yum, a guide and cookbook on taste training for kids. She and her family divide their time between Canada and France. Her website was named a Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Blog of the Month.

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