Monday, August 10, 2015

French Kids Eat Everything

In June Cordie had three weeks of sickness, a cold and two viruses.  Because her throat was sore she couldn't eat a lot and feeding was difficult.  After she got well she had developed some very picky attitudes about food.  Bananas, sweet potatoes, and Cheerios-that was the list of acceptable foods on her new "menu".  Big sigh.  Oh goody.  So I borrowed the book French Kids Eat Everything.  I wasn't expecting much, but I needed some practical advice and I was very pleasantly surprised!

The book details the journey of the author, Karen Le Billon, family's one year in France and how she used that time to break old habits and instill a new love of food in her two girls.  The books is focused around ten food rules that define the French way of eating.

Some rules I recognized from my own childhood like #6 "You don't have to LIKE it, but you do have to TASTE it".  Some were fairly revolutionary to the way I think about feeding kids, like #7 "No snacking".  Some of the things that weren't rules made the biggest impact on me.  For instance, research that Le Billon cited said that children need to try foods an average of seven times before they really form an opinion on them, and some kids need to try them 10-15 times.  Cordie didn't like peaches.  Of all things, peaches?  Peaches are great!  After maybe two or three tries, I gave up on them even though I had a huge bag of frozen cubes ready to feed her.  After reading that I tried peaches again-same reaction.  And again-hostile, but better.  And again-success!  Cordie eats peaches now!  There's no fight or fuss and she especially likes them mixed with yogurt, as much as any other fruit (besides blueberries which are a stand out favorite).

For the last chapter or two Le Billon talks about her family's move back to Canada and how the rules had to be modified some because of the cultural differences.  I really appreciated those pages because I found myself saying "yeah that works where EVERYONE is following these rules, but it won't work here."  The snacking rule was the one I saw the toughest time implementing here.  While I am all for not having to pack Cheerios, puffs, and yogurt melts for every outing, I would hate for Cordie to not have goldfish if the rest of nursery class is.  So the rules can and should be modified to your family and cultural situation.  I like that since I don't feel bad if the rules get broken sometimes!

I can say that the book has changed some things at our house.  I make a point to sit down with Cordie for breakfast and lunch (rule #4).  She already ate with us at supper already.  This way we are eating as a family for each meal (albeit without Josh).  It also serves to get her more diversity in her food while I act as example.  So if I'm having cheese on a sandwich, she gets cheese and some bread and I'm yum and ooh over how good it is and how Cordie is eating the same thing as Mommy (rule #3).  I still pack snacks in case of emergency when we go out, but I try not to give them out and we don't snack when we're at home (rule #7).  If Cordie doesn't like something, I put it away, but only temporarily (rule #6).  We will taste the same thing again later that week.  I'm also being more careful about what I eat.  Having her watch me eat makes me more aware of bad food choices that I wouldn't want her to mimic.  Plus I'm looking for things she can eat "just like Mommy" which is always fruits and veggies or yogurts and cheeses.  Sitting down is good for me (and her) because it makes an actual meal, not just picking at whatever catches my eye in the pantry.  

The hardest rules for me to follow are the slow food rule because I have becoming a very fast eater since meeting Josh and the no emotional eating.  Ugh, that one sucks.  I had a quarter of a bag of egg noodles this weekend in one emotional sitting.  I know in my head that is a great rule, but carbs call to me in times of stress or happiness or sadness or celebration or anytime I have an emotion. 

If you made it through this post:  congrats!  I had a lot to say on this subject and it's taken me awhile to even sit down to write this post because I knew it would be long. If you have a picky eater, I definitely suggest giving the book a try.  It may not revolutionize what you're doing, but it's a good, quick read that might give you a helpful hint.

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