Review: French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon

This morning I finished 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. This is Amazon's bio of Karen, "Karen Le Billon is an author, teacher, and proud mom of two daughters. She is married to a Frenchman, and her family divides its time between Vancouver and France. Her kids love spinach puree (honest!).

A Rhodes Scholar with a PhD from Oxford University, Karen currently teaches at the University of British Columbia, where she holds a Canada Research Chair. In 2012 she was named a member of Jamie Oliver Foundation's Real Food Advocates team. She is the author of three previous books, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit Magazine, and on Good Morning America." Sounds pretty impressive to me. She writes in a fun, mom, humorous style.

How hard is it to get little kids to try new foods? It is hard. I know. I have been trying to work against the grain of my kids' desires for years. My wife suggested I read this book. Karen's and her husband's jobs were okay with them working remotely for a year, so they decided to move back to Philippe's home village in France. There Karen adjusted with her two small children to the numerous cultural rules and values of France. Karen is from Vancouver Canada, but her values are much the same as a person from the United States. The culture shock was real on the way in and the way out. She takes the reader in 235 pages through 12 months, 10 chapters and 10 rules, and concludes with 30 pages of easy, healthy French recipes. 

The 10 Rules: 

  1. Parents: YOU are in charge of food education! - That is such a good reminder.
  2. Avoid emotional eating. NO food rewards, bribes, etc. - I do this. I need to stop. 
  3. Parents schedule meals and menus. Kids eat what adults eat. No short-order cooking. - How often do I succumb to a kids plea for an alternative? Too often. 
  4. Eat family meals together. No distractions. This is so hard. I am in a stage where I am running everywhere. Some nights I am driving for three hours. 
  5. Eat your veggies. Key: Think "variety." 
  6. You don't have to LIKE it, but you do have to TASTE it. I love this rule.  
  7. No snacking! It's OK to feel hungry between meals. 
  8. SLOW FOOD is happy food -- as in, eat slow.  
  9. Eat mostly real food. 
  10. Remember: Eating is joyful. Relax! 

I love these rules. They are so hard for me. 


"Kids aren't innocent," snorted Jo, in an uncharacteristically direct tone. "They're like little animals. If they aren't disciplined, they'll never learn to behave!" p. 88 

This is so not like Jean-Jacques Rousseau who said, "If man is left… to his own notions and conduct, he would certainly turn out the most preposterous of human beings. The influence of prejudice, authority… would stifle nature in him and substitute nothing." (Source) I would agree with Jo more than Rousseau.