By Theresa Albert
From the print edition, September 2012
You’ve probably heard about the trend to celebrate French parenting as much as we have. French kids sleep through the night, they are boisterous yet polite and they eat a variety of foods, like beets, spinach, artichokes and leek soup. And they have good table manners. And they don’t snack. And, even better, child obesity rates in France are significantly lower than in Canada. What’s the big secret? We wanted answers so we sent registered nutritionist Theresa Albert to Paris to find out if French kids really happily eat everything and how Canadian parents can get their kids to do the same. Here are 15 tips to change your way of thinking about mealtime and eat more like the French.
Think “But of course my kids will like vegetables!”
• Do serve mashed veg as baby’s first food rather than cereals.
• Do celebrate, don’t disguise!
• Do prepare veggies cooked, mashed, roasted, raw and in salads for toddlers and kids.
• Do vary temperatures and textures when planning menus.
Think “It is common sense!”
• Do serve only fruits and vegetables as snacks; if they are hungry, they’ll eat them.
• Do dress half of the plate with vegetables from age one up.
• Do allow a treat, but make it a quality one: Serve a small piece of exquisite chocolate rather than a few cookies.
Think “It’s just as easy to make a simple meal as it is to serve fast food”
• Do buy today’s food on the way home to inspire fresh ideas.
• Do keep excellent pantry ingredients at the ready.
• Do notice the message being sent just as much as the food being eaten.
Think “Food is the foundation of the day”
• Do encourage children to enjoy food and feel satisfied, not eat until they are full.
• Do make the effort to bake healthy whole-grain treats.
Think “Every child deserves good food.”
• Do support high-standard meal programs at daycare and preschool.
• Do be the parent who brings the fruit instead of packaged snacks.
• Do vote for politicians who support healthy initiatives for all.