Fix Me A Snack

A blog created by a mom who got sick of feeding her kids crackers and ice cream

The overarching message of French Kids Eat Everything, a product of the Le Billon family’s year long stay in Mr. Le Billon’s native France, is that kids can and will eat a varied and nutritious diet. All you need to make it happen is to live in a culture that places the utmost priority on eating real food as a profound source of pleasure and connection.

At the opening of each chapter, Le Billon casts herself as the nay-saying North American. She is anxious about her child’s autonomy being threatened by the regimented (but delicious!) school lunch program. She worries about her child starving to death and throws snacks in the back seat as soon as they are picked up from school. She rushes through meals because she’s “too busy”. But by the end of each chapter, her husband, extended family, and France as a whole have managed to help her take another look at her North American habits and she usually ends up happier as a result.

Le Brillon’s descriptions of French society and how it is geared toward teaching children from a very early age to enjoy a nutritious, varied, and disciplined diet had me turning green with envy. School lunches are impressive in France. They are presented in four courses and last for a minimum of 30 minutes! Kids and parents alike are excited to examine the menu each week and every student is required to partake. No one packs a lunch. There are no snacks save a little something when the kids arrive home from school.

It’s a case of being liberated by limitations. I’d give my left arm for a small piece of the discipline the French seem to possess around food. At the same time, they enjoy the act of eating and preparing meals so much more than North Americans. Getting dinner on the table isn’t just another thing to check off a list, it’s the highlight of the day.

Over the course of her family’s stay in France, Le Billon gradually attempts to modify her family’s eating habits. Taking a lesson from French parents who make it a priority to repeatedly expose their children to a wide array of foods during their first years, Le Billon trains her typical picky North American children to expand their palates and enjoy their food. Le Billon distills the lessons she learned into a set of ten rules.

I’ve been inspired by the book to take our family dinner to the next level. I started with clamping down on snacking (myself included). But I’ve counteracted any resulting unpleasantness with more elaborate dinners. Inspired by the book, I’ve been serving multi-course meals to the kids most nights of the week. They love it. Probably because dessert is always on the menu now. Surprisingly, it takes me about the same amount of time if I prepare a simple soup/salad, simple entree, and super simple dessert. (It’s usually fruit, but I did make a mean chocolate pudding last week.) And there’s no more opting out of dinner for my youngest any more. She no longer goes to bed with a belly full of bread. So far it’s working really well aside from all the dishes. Not only are all of us eating more vegetables and trying lots of new foods. We are also spending more time together at the table.

To win your very own copy of French Kids Eat Everything, comment below. I’ll be choosing a winner at random at 7pm EST on Thursday May 10th, 2012. Good luck and happy reading.

Update May 10th: Shelly is the winner! Thanks to everyone for chiming in!

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50 Comments

  1. Christina H.
    11:47 am on May 3rd, 2012

    I’ve wanted to read this book for a while. Winning it would be even better!!

  2. Liz
    11:53 am on May 3rd, 2012

    We’ve been cutting down on the snacking too. It’s hard to do with the “picky stage” of a two year old, as well as the growth spurt of a five year old boy!!! They both want to eat all day, but we’ve tried to be more intentional with our timing and food choices. This book sounds like it would really help!

  3. Kait
    12:07 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    Sounds like an awesome book. One that I would love to read with my children.
    Thank you for the chance to win it. :)

  4. Shelly
    12:11 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I started law school this year and an unfortunate side effect has been dinner. My planning and grocery shopping have gone out the window and my husband has been picking up the pieces. The family eats every night, but you can tell there is a different cook. I think we both would benefit from this delightful sounding read. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Kyle
    12:42 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    Sounds great. Perhaps it will make me start to actually plan and write out a grocery list. Our meals have become pretty boring.

  6. Miranda
    1:08 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    This looks like an interesting read. Always good to hear a different perspective.

  7. DebZ
    1:20 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    great review. i love this idea and am inspired not to let laziness overcome my planning anymore! (will be even more inspired if i win the book :)

  8. Amber
    1:20 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I am on the hold list for this book at my library! I think it might be a while before I get the chance to see it! Thanks for the opportunity to win it. My family could most certainly learn to be better eaters.

  9. JessB
    1:22 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I’ve been wanting to read this, as I am trying to get my kids to eat healthier. I have already started making changes that are forcing me to cook more often, and trying lots of new recipes.

  10. I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one whose little one fills up on bread right before bedtime because she had a tantrum about the meatballs / pasta / chicken / fish Mommy made for dinner.
    Love the sound of this book. Putting it on hold at the library JUST IN CASE you don’t select me. Please, please, please do!

  11. Michelle
    2:27 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    This sounds like a wonderful book! I would love to win it :)

  12. Lynn
    2:36 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I’d welcome the opportunity to give it a try! Sounds like the book is a great starting point.

  13. Melissa S
    2:40 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I have a really picky 4yr old. I think we need thi
    s book.

  14. Jill
    2:44 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I love books like this, and would love to read this one.
    I took a lot from “My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus,” and Le Billon’s book seems to follow the approach I try to follow with my own son.

  15. Julie
    2:48 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    Oooh, I have to check this book out. My four kids are pretty good eaters, but we still seem to be in a revolving rut of grilled cheese sandwiches and pasta with cheese.

  16. Amy J
    3:21 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    What a great book! I love the ideas discussed. I work with children with poor eating habits, so look forward to reading the details in this book :)

  17. Denise F
    3:59 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I’d love this book! I spent one day in France serveral years ago and noticed how nicely food was prepared and presented. There was not excess food like here in North America. Can’t wait to read it!

  18. If I don’t win a copy I’m buying it! My sister lived in France off and on for a few years, I’ve visited a couple of times and have always envied the French and their relationship with food. If only our school and sports schedules would also assist me in making week night dinners a 3 course meal!

  19. I would love to read this! I’m a little jealous of how positively the French view their mealtimes. It seems that in the US we rush through meals constantly and eat just to eat. I’d love to see the philosophy this book offers!

  20. Megan
    4:57 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I’ve been super interested in reading this book! I love reading and I love cooking, so when you put the two together… :)

  21. Jennifer
    5:00 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    Fascinating! We love eating and have been trying harder to do better. Winning this book would be awesome

  22. Julie
    5:25 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I would love to read this! Hope I win.

  23. Laura
    5:32 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I found your site by accident, but I’m so glad I did. I would love to win!

  24. Kristine
    6:32 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    We eat pretty healthy and my daughter doesn’t know what kid food or fast food is. But I love the idea of multi-course meals!

  25. I would Love to read this. My almost 2 yo lil girl has been SOOO picky lately and I need some inspiration

  26. Amanda
    7:39 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I am so lost whenit comes to feeding my picky 3 year old

  27. TwoDiffSocks
    7:44 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    its a great pleasure to see people enjoy & try all kinds of food. i just wish my two kids would! *rolls eyes*

  28. Cecilia
    7:53 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I am dying to read this book. Thank you for the review, and the giveaway!

  29. Krista
    8:07 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I have a very adventurous eater, but I’d love to bring that up a notch. This book seems like a great tool!

  30. Leslie Russ
    9:29 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile! My 5 yr old triplets are pretty good eaters and we try to eat healthy, real food but I’m sure I could learn a thing or two!

  31. I’d love to read this. My little guy is not too picky, but it is a topic I am very interested in.

  32. Sarah
    10:33 pm on May 3rd, 2012

    If I don’t win it here, I’m definitely finding this at the library! We’re in the middle of a mini food revolution at our house. A small success- my son asked for avocado today! =)

  33. Emma
    12:42 am on May 4th, 2012

    I found your site via itsnotaboutnutrition.com – I’m enjoying reading back through your posts.
    I would love this book – I’ve heard so much about it and can’t wait to try introducing some “French” eating habits to my 2yr old & 9 mth old!

  34. Interesting! I’d love to read it.

  35. Jan J.
    7:13 am on May 4th, 2012

    This olooks like a really interesting book! My kids are pretty good eaters but I would love to read this.

  36. Melissa B
    10:05 am on May 4th, 2012

    Looks like an interesting book. I’d love to read it.

  37. pati
    12:07 am on May 5th, 2012

    I’ve been looking for a change in our diet, I want it to be fun to prepare and great to enjoy together. You just gave me a great tip. Thanks!

  38. Susan W.
    6:28 am on May 5th, 2012

    May this would help me win over my 8 y/o son’s appetite b/c unfortunately he prefers Dad’s not-so-healthy eating style:(

  39. Tiffany
    11:59 am on May 5th, 2012

    We eat healthy, but my daughter is pickier than my son. New ideas and suggestions are always welcome! I would also love to cut down on the amount of snacking that occurs.

  40. Rochelle
    1:24 am on May 6th, 2012

    I would love to win this book! I have recently started meal planning (with much success!) and although the kids don’t love every meal, they certainly are trying new foods! Would love to incorporate the ideas of this book into my life.

  41. Kristina
    9:04 am on May 6th, 2012

    Our family has gone through a very similar change lately! For the last several weeks, we’ve followed the french schedule (3 meals, plus one afternoon snack) and have made dinners later (we used to eat soon after the kids got home from school, and it was rushed and hectic) and fancier – as you said above “the highlight of the day”. We are putting a lot of effort into planning meals, balancing things over a two week period, and it is very enjoyable. We also now have dessert every night – healthier options on weekdays and something decadent on Sundays. Last night we had a simple chocolate-cherry cake that was made with whole wheat flour, ground flax, eggs, coconut oil, cocoa, pitted cherries, baking powder, and salt. Often we have homemade fruit/yogurt popsicles. My kids are eating more, and the whole household just feels more “right” this way. I really believe that the key is making food much more important in our lives.

  42. Carla Reed
    2:14 pm on May 6th, 2012

    I’ll definitely have to check out this book!

  43. Barb K
    10:42 pm on May 6th, 2012

    This sounds like a good book. Can’t wait to read.

  44. Lauren Nicole
    8:32 am on May 7th, 2012

    Sounds like an awesome read! Thanks for the chance to win it!

  45. Jill
    3:36 pm on May 7th, 2012

    Sounds like just the book I need. Thanks for the post and the chance to win it!

  46. Jannah
    4:45 pm on May 7th, 2012

    J’espere je gagne!

  47. LisaZ
    3:59 pm on May 8th, 2012

    I came over from the book’s website when I noticed your pingback. Great review! I feel the same way. I would LOVE to own a copy of this book so am hoping to win your contest! Thank you so much.

  48. LisaZ
    3:59 pm on May 8th, 2012

    p.s. I love seeing your notebook with meal plans! That kind of visual helps me so much.

  49. Sue
    4:46 pm on May 8th, 2012

    Sounds like we need this book at our house!

  50. Tricia
    10:21 am on May 10th, 2012

    This looks like a great book! When I was a kid, my mom would pack us lunches and make dinner, and if we didn’t eat what she gave us, well, we were hungry!