French Lessons: Nutrition
A few months ago the Wall Street Journal came out with an article proclaiming “Why French Parents are Superior.” Not to twist the knife deeper in American parents’ sides, Forbes released a story on why “French Kids Eat Everything.” Turns out French children are better behaved, eat better, and are overall more mature. Most reasons are not surprising, and in fact are common sense ideas that can be positive habit changing reminders of how things should be. In this first of a two part blog series, we will take an in depth look at the Wall Street Journal and Forbes articles and condense them into lessons to make sure you have the best parenting tools in your disposal.
Our first French lesson is centered on Nutrition. French parents believe that proper behavior-based education at home is essential. This includes food. From the moment children move beyond breast milk, children are offered exotic foods without the opportunity to refuse. That being said, remember that you’re in control. Parents you have the first opportunity to educate your children about food, and making the experience enjoyable for both you and your little one at the table. Fight the idea that if a child will not eat something, they don’t like it. French thinking enforces the concept that if a child hasn’t learned to like a food, you should keep cheerfully serving it. If peas aren’t in the picture alone, try adding them to other foods you know your child likes, such as mashed potatoes or rice. Don’t dismiss peas altogether and think of it as a lost cause. Remember, you are in control.
Food education is essential for children to understand food is for nourishment–not a pacifier, distraction, or reward. Keeping that in mind, you control not only what your child eats, but when. French meal times are on a set schedule without various “snack times” on the run. In France, parents allow one snack a day and it’s at 4 or 4:30 in the afternoon. Slowing down eating makes food enjoyable for children, not just something to do in front of the TV or in the car. This is one of the biggest lessons we can learn from French parents, a lesson in patience and the power in waiting.
Parents must teach the simple act of waiting to their children. Instant gratification in desires, in food, attention, or toys is one of the biggest things French parents dismiss. The simplicity is shocking. Think about it this way: if your child has been snacking all day, come dinner time, they will not be interested in sitting still and waiting for their food to be prepared. However, if a child understands that their foods is coming and are hungry enough to be ready for it, their attitude may be different. These helpful insights should keep you busy to implement for the next week or so. If you want more information on specific parenting techniques, check out “Bringing up Bebe” by Pamela Druckerman and “French Kids Eat Everything” by Karen Le Billon.
Stay tuned for the next addition of Bump News’ French Lessons!