“This book is not only about how to teach children (and yourself) to eat well and happily for life, it’s a book about how to help build and maintain the foundations of any civilized society. I loved it. Essential reading, whether you have children or not.”
-Laura Calder, author of Dinner Chez Moi and host of French Food at Home
Moving her young family to her husband’s hometown in Northern France, Canadian Karen Le Billon expected some cultural adjustment. But she didn’t expect to be lectured for slipping her fussing toddler a snack—’a recipe for obesity’—or to be forbidden from packing her older daughter a lunch in lieu of the elaborate meal on the school menu. Given the fussy habits of her daughters (both picky eaters), she is intrigued by the fact that French children happily eat everything: from beets to broccoli, salad to spinach, mussels to muesli. And she is fascinated to discover that child obesity rates in France are a fraction of what they are in North America.
Le Billon soon begins to see the wisdom in the common sense ‘food rules’ that govern how the French foster healthy eating habits and good manners in babies and children. Some of the rules are controversial (like the rule about ‘no snacking,’ to which the French rigidly adhere), and call into question not only North American eating habits, but also our parenting styles. Other rules evoke common sense habits that we used to share, but have somehow forgotten in this era of ‘unregulated eating.’ Taken together, the rules suggest that we need to dramatically rethink the way we feed children, at home and at school.
With her (at times unwilling) family, Le Billon tests out ten French Food Rules and vows to have her children ‘eating French’ within a year. The result is a family food revolution—with surprising yet ultimately happy results.
Combining personal anecdotes with practical tips and appetizing recipes—including Zucchini and Spinach Puree, Bouillabaisse (Fish Soup) for Babies, Zesty Orange Salad, and Clafoutis (Sweet Cherry Souffle)—French Kids Eat Everything is a humorous, provocative look at families, food, and children that is filled with inspiration and concrete advice that every parent can use.
Global TV interview: Should you be teaching your kids to eat like the French?
“Karen Le Billon has written a book that every parent of young children will want to read. After she moves to France with her two young daughters, both with North American eating habits, their family palates are slowly educated to the French way of eating. She and her children learn that it’s okay to be hungry, turn to mindful eating, and learn the importance of enjoying one’s food. Humorous as well as instructive, this culinary adventure will change the lives of parents and children alike.”
-Patricia Wells, author of The Provence Cookbook
“This book is a must-read for teachers and parents.”
– Dr. Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, & Public Health, New York University
“A wonderful – and important – book. One family’s topsy-turvy culinary transformation becomes an in-depth exploration of the habits that have kept French kids loving food (and eating spinach) for centuries.”
—Elizabeth Bard, author of Lunch in Paris
“If you’re looking for a dietary overhaul for your family, this book will get you well on your way to better eating.”
“We liked how Le Billon strategically identified questions she faced while living abroad: Why were French kids tidier eaters? Why did they sit quietly at restaurants? Why did her daughter’s teacher suggest she see a therapist when she wanted to pack her school lunch? Even better, we liked how she answered these questions and identified a set of rules for healthy eating that could be followed even if you weren’t able to take up residence in a damp stone cottage on the French coast.”
“The 10 “rules” she comes up with are really common sense ideas you probably, however vaguely, already know. But if you’re like me, you may find them excellent, if not also habit-changing, reminders of how things should be. Or can be. Key to enforcing these rules is a French parenting mentality that’s loving but firm.”
Interview with Katie Couric on Good Morning America
Fun interview with Dina Pugliese on Breakfast Television. Look at that lovely meal they prepared!
In-depth interview with Fanny Kiefer on Studio 4: Part 1 (our story) and Part 2 (some funny stories and some French food rules). Watch Karen talk about French Kids Eat Everything with Fanny Keifer on Studio 4!
New York Times Excerpt: How my daughters learned to eat like the French
Fun article on BBC Good Food
“Why parents can’t end the obesity epidemic alone“: Op-ed in the UK Guardian newspaper
French Kids | Petits gourmands | The Sunday Times from French Kids, focusing on ‘top tips for children’s food education’ in the UK Sunday Times
Interview in the UK Independent: Why French children are happy eaters
Do French Kids eat better than American kids? Karen’s response, on the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy Blog.
Karen’s post on the New York Times Motherlode blog, on “Why French Parents are Superior (in One Way)” (i.e. their approach to food education)
Top tips and the French Food Rules excerpted in the UK Sunday Times:
“French Kids Eat Everything: Take Notes.” Lovely review on Forbes.com
The editors at Bon Appetit magazine were so inspired by French Kids that they devoted an entire week to posts by top chefs and food writers on Bon Appetit.com. So many inspiring ideas! Check out:
– Intro to Kids’ Week on BonAppetit.com: how healthy eating can be fun for kids
– Q & A about the French Food Rules and the book
– Three fun recipes from French Kids — yum!
Curing picky eating, with a French twist: article in the Toronto Star.
Thoughtful op-ed article from Harvard’s Dr Jennifer Cheng in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Can French Food Rules change the way you feed your toddler? Joanna Goddard from a Cup of Jo weighs in with a review of French Kids…and generates lots of great comments.
Interview with Steve Paulson at Wisconsin Public Radio‘s To the Best of Our Knowledge radio show.
Why we don’t need to parent like the French (with one exception): My post on the HuffPost Parenting Blog
NPR’s Splendid Table: A sneak peak at the book and one of my favourite recipes!
The low down on French Kids Eat Everything in Spanish: La receta francesa para criar niños que comen de todo
Spanish interview on Cucmi: 10 reglas para educar nines felices y bien alimentados
“French Kids Don’t Snack: Surprising Food Habits from Abroad” on Babble.com.
Thanks to Parenting.com for another excerpt!
CBC Radio interview on The Shift
Thoughtful discussion (France, child rearing, the core messages of French Kids, and more) on 49th Shelf with The Book Madam.
Edmonton Journal interview and review
Check out the April issue of Dissent Magazine where Karen writes about American versus French food politics. Prêt-à-Manger: Why the French Have Their Cake and Eat It, Too
Excerpt from French Kids Eat Everything at Parade.com
Chef and writer Michael Ruhlman was inspired by French Kids to write this post on ‘culinary intelligence as an emerging trend’, in which he describes the US as a country ‘hungry for good, delicious choices’ — there’s room for hope!
Great review from Momables on the ‘French Kids’ approach
French Food Rules – could they work here at home? Savvy thoughts from Out of the Box Food.
Thoughtful review on the Yummy Mummy Club blog.
Review by Susan Heim (Chicken Soup for the Soul Editor!)
Thanks to Sarah Wu for the invitation to discuss Karen’s experience writing French Kids, on her Fed Up with Lunch blog, which inspired Karen’s French Kids’ School Lunch project!
Thoughtful discussion of French Kids Eat Everything: food culture, nutrition advice for parents, and more by BC-based food writer Don Genova.
Fun review and great interview podcast with Amber Strocel (who says she was originally skeptical, but then won over to the French Kids’ approach).
Great review on MommaCuisine, a fellow Jamie Oliver Real Food Advocate!
Funniest review so far of French Kids by Hollie Smith. Chapeau!
The Family Table…Mais Oui!–Fun review on YoYoMama, which features a recipe from the book (Pommes au Four)
Radio interview about the broader food politics issues raised by French Kids Eat Everything with Caryn Hartglass on Progressive Radio‘s “It’s all about Food” show.
Foodtree.com: Karen is very proud to have been profiled on the Foodtree blog as a Food Advocate.
Thoughtful post on the book on one of Karen’s favourite family food blogs: A Family That Eats Together.
Fun review of book on The Stir (by CafeMom) blog. Note: the Food Rules need context in order to fully understand them; in the book they are presented with lots of tips and explanations for putting everything into practice.
Thoughtful comments on the FixMeASnack blog, which perceptively describes the French Kids approach as one as ‘liberation via limitations’!
Design Mom: Lovely review from design guru (and mom of six living in the French countryside!)
Sue Atkins (the well-known UK Parenting Coach) invited Karen to do a guest blog on snacking — hot topic!
Thoughtful post on the negative impacts of short school lunch periods at Amber Strocel’s blog (strocel.com), sparked by her read of French Kids Eat Everything. Read the post here.
Sarah Jane Studios: A sneak peek of French Kids Eat Everything from the book illustrator–and phenomenal artist–Sarah Jane Wright.
Why do French kids eat so well? Rules! Review on “Outside the Box”, an Italian food blog with a Canadian twist!
60 Second Parent: Toddler friendly veggie ideas from France
HarperCollins, Canada, April 2012
William Morrow, US, April 2012
Little, Brown/Piatkus, UK
Sinbad Publishers Limited, Russia
Korea National Open University Press, Korea
Swiat Ksiazki/Weltbild Polska Ltd., Poland
Business Weekly Publications, A Division of Cite Publishing Ltd., Taiwan
Editora Alaude, Brazil
Gimtasis Zodis, Lithuania
Nakladatelstvi Jota, Czech Republic
China Citic Press, China
Tanapaev Publishers, Estonia
Wave Publishers, Japan
Winner of the 2013 Taste Canada’s The Food Writing Awards