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Our Family's Most Challenging French Food Rule

This week, I am reviewing “French Kids Eat Everything” and giving away a copy to one lucky reader (To enter, click here). The book encouraged our family to take a closer look at how we eat and to reconsider our assumptions about food through the lens of the 10 French Food Rules for raising happy, healthy eaters. 

The most challenging French Food Rule for us has been changing our attitudes about eating.
 
French Food Rule #2 - Avoid emotional eating

I will admit that I sometimes eat because I am bored, stressed or upset. It is a very difficult pattern to break our emotional attachments to food. Since reading about this French Food Rule, I try to be more aware of why I am reaching for food especially if I am tempted to snack. It helps to take a quick pause and ask myself whether I am actually hungry or just trying to fill a void. If I am unsure, then I drink a glass of water, wait a few minutes and re-evaluate.

Henry eating yogurt and fresh pineapple for breakfast.
As much as possible, we want to help Henry avoid developing emotional eating habits in the first place. Daddy and I have committed to not using food as a bribe, reward or punishment. That means no treats when it comes time to potty-train and no promises of dessert if he eats his vegetables. As with the baby-led weaning model, we do not pressure Henry to eat since it is important for him to learn to listen to his own body's signals of being hungry or satisfied. 
Henry decides how much to eat (or not eat).
Avoiding emotional eating also means that we won't use food as a distraction when Henry is hurt or upset. No lollipops when he scrapes his knee or has to get a shot at the doctor's office. No extra snacks when he is cranky and having a rough day. Not having the option of using a quick food fix means as parents we will have to take a little more time to help him understand his emotions and how to deal with them in a productive way. That's an investment we are definitely willing to make for our child.

Comments

  1. This is a hard one, especially with babies that aren't really verbal yet. Kason wil see me making dinner or breakfast and yell out or whine a bit, wanting some of the apple I'm trying to cut. I'm working on timing meals better but what do you do in this scenario? Give him a slice while you finish cutting up the rest, hand him a toy, explain it wil be just a minute? How do you avoid rewarding the crying out/ squealing when they are just hungry????- charla

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    Replies
    1. I think the French approach would be two-fold. First, they believe that it is very important to teach children patience. They trust that even small children can learn to eat well at mealtimes when there is a consistent meal schedule in place. If parents allow kids to eat whenever they want, the French believe that children fail to learn self-control. At our house, I would probably explain that the meal will be ready soon and encourage Henry to engage in another activity.

      Second, the French believe that it is okay for a child to feel hungry between meals. Children will eat better at mealtimes because they will have a better appetite. It is not about depriving your child of food, but about helping him to understand what is expected. If you decide to follow this approach, then there will likely be an adjustment period for a few days while your little one learns the new rules.

      Alternatively, you may decide that it is okay for your son to reach for fruits or vegetables as requested, but not okay if he wants to have other foods. Whatever strategy you choose though, be consistent.

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