When I found out I would be a mother, I got a little crazy. Pregnancy and parenting books littered our living room and bedroom for months, and I was constantly planning and obsessing about sleep schedules, feeding schedules, developmental milestones and so on. And on.
Many things stressed me out, but one particular scenario was really giving me indigestion. I could handle a lot of things, but a picky eater was not one of them! Before Jack would ever see his first ever spoonful of solid food (avocado), I was dreaming of a kid that happily gobbled everything from sushi to olives to shrimp tacos.
Among the books I read was this one: French Kids Eat Everything. It is less a manual and more a personal story about a family from Vancouver living in France for a year (the author’s husband is from there), and their struggle to adapt to the French way of eating and thinking about food. The book essentially dissects the French approach and reduces it to 10 “rules”. Although I don’t think our fast-paced North American lifestyles are always compatible with such a regimented approach, there were still some important takeaways for me that I think about often, and try to implement as much as I can in my own life, especially with Jack. Here’s how I’ve interpreted some of the ideas in this book:
1 – Scheduled snack times are better than all-day grazing. Feeling hungry between meals is ok! Meal foods tend to be healthier than snack foods, so why fill up before getting to the good stuff?
2 – Try to have at least one meal a day with your loved ones and take the time to reconnect. Avoid distractions and try not to get up a million times during the meal (I have suuuuuuch a hard time with that one).
3 – Don’t support emotional eating. Don’t use food as a reward for good behavior, or as a way to comfort an upset child.
4 – Be more mindful about eating. I am guilty of many a pizza pocket scarfed down at my desk, with my other hand on my keyboard. Too often, eating is joyless and mechanical. Take the time to enjoy food!
Another fun thing about this book is that there are actual recipes for some of the things the author learned to make in France. They are all easy, approachable recipes that have nothing to do with escargots or complicated pastries or anything else that we usually associate with French food. At one point, the author describes making a chocolate mousse for dessert for her family, and this struck me as totally brilliant. Chocolate mousse is quick and simple, and yet both elegant enough for guests and loved by kids.
Inspired by this, I made a chocolate mousse the other night for some dinner guests. This is not the recipe from that book, as I had loaned it out and didn’t have it on hand, but I can tell you that two exhausted moms in need of chocolate therapy and two finicky kids were all extremely satisfied!
If anyone has advice for dealing with picky eaters I would love to know!