In French Children Don’t Throw Food, Pamela Druckerman described the French way of parenting, and why it is so appealing. I wrote about the importance of quality time, when just being present is not enough in parenting while quoting the book. In this post, I am reflecting on the French way of feeding their children, as described in the book.
I am a firm believer of table manners and that children should eat whatever that is prepared for them. I heard stories of picky eaters, and had a personal encounter with one classic example. I am adventurous when it comes to food, and I eat almost anything edible regardless the method of preparation. My motto is “be grateful that I have food on my plate and do not complain”. I tried to instil this in my children, but them being so young and also susceptible to various external (and possibly not-so-positive) influence, I am very concerned about their eating habits.
According to the book, French children are able to sit through mealtimes at the dining table and they are willing to taste everything which is served before them. The key to this, it seems, is by not offering snacks throughout the day (thank you for affirming this!) and to not give up in feeding different types of food even though they may reject it at first. The first point is common sense; we gobble down our food when we are hungry. As for the second point, it takes a lot of patience, perseverance and creativity. But it is do-able and the outcome is apparently achievable. Most importantly, when we are consistent about it, a good eating habit is developed.
I read the chapter on how to feed children the French way at the best timing. Frankly speaking, I am getting a bit bored with my own menu on what to feed my children. I don’t have much time in terms of food preparation but I suppose that’s no excuse if I am serious in cultivating a healthy eating habit in my babies. After reading that chapter, I am going to put in more effort in meal planning, try to get my son to help out in food preparation and be more patient in developing my daughter’s love for food.
Another noteworthy point is on offering sweets to children. It seems that totally prohibiting children from sweets and chocolate is not only ineffective; it may be counter-productive because well, ever heard that forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest? Therefore the main idea is moderation. Offer all kinds of food in moderation, and within what Druckerman describes as cadre (which translates to framework) in the parenting realm. Let the children have their treats of sweets, say during parties, or weekends, or whenever you feel that they could, but at other times they shouldn’t even bother to ask for it. Upon reflection, this was the way which I was brought up. My parents allowed me to take soft drinks, cold drinks, sweets, chewing gum, ice-cream and all those junk food which some parents frowned upon. But somehow I always knew my limit and I didn’t try to break it. So apparently my parents already had a pretty good framework in place when it comes to food.