Got a Picky Eater? Consider Moving to France

July 16,2012
Lindsay Hutton( )

Have you got a picky eater on your hands? If you're willing to travel, a quick jaunt to France might help your little one's finnicky ways.

OK, mayyy-be that's not the easiest solution. But your child can probably learn a thing or two from a French child's way of eating.

Just ask Karen Le Billion, author of French Kids Eat Everything.

In it, she talks about her family's move overseas and her initial fear of getting her daughters to eat "sophisticated" (in the American sense), French fare like duck and various cheeses (especially ones that don't come in pre-packaged sliced form.)

Although the family was prepared for some culture shock, Le Billion was unprepared for the most important lesson of all (food education), and was even more astonished to see French children gobbling up everything from beets and broccoli, to blue cheese and lamb (a stark contrast to her own children's picky eating habits).

So what do the French do differently that seemingly raises a nation full of good eaters?

For one, they make food (and eating it) an experience. The French have long been known for their obsession over anything edible, and sit down meals have been known to last hours. They'll plan their meals all day, and when they eat, they eat with gusto. It's a family affair, and everyone participates.

When French children are offered a food they don't think they'll like, they are encouraged to try it, but aren't forced to eat all of it. A lot of new foods are introduced in a school setting too. Le Billion says this helps picky eaters as well-- if they see their friends and classmates eating a meal with enthusiasm, they are more likely to do the same.

And of course, there's the no snacking rule. Le Billion was chastised one day for slipping one of her kids a snack during an off meal time, and was told it was a "recipe for obesity!"

Don't get the wrong impression-- this book isn't meant to bash the American way of life, or suggest that the French are better at feeding their children than the rest of the world. It's merely a book written by a mom who moved overseas and immersed herself in a new culture-- and learned a thing or two along the way.

What do you think? Would you read this book? Do you have picky eaters of your own? How do you think they would fare if you were to introduce the French's way of eating? Would they happily experiment, or probably go to bed hungry?


Tell us your thoughts!