French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters
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French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  3,040 ratings  ·  569 reviews
Moving her young family to her husband's hometown in northern France, Karen Le Billon is prepared for some cultural adjustment but is surprised by the food education she and her family (at first unwillingly) receive. In contrast to her daughters, French children feed themselves neatly and happily—eating everything from beets to broccoli, salad to spinach, mussels to muesli...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by William Morrow (first published 2012)
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Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela DruckermanFrench Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille GuilianoFrench Twist by Catherine CrawfordFrench Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le BillonMy Life in France by Julia Child
The French Are Better Than Us
4th out of 10 books — 8 voters
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Sweet Food Writing
26th out of 29 books — 15 voters


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Pumpkinbear
In this year-long culinary memoir, author Le Billon gets her compliant French husband to move with her and their two small children from Canada to his tiny French hometown for several months, where she discovers that French people respect food and their health too much to stuff themselves with monotonous junk food all day long, and it's apparently such a revelation that she rehabilitates her entire approach to food over it, but she also doesn't make any friends, so she forces her husband and chi...more
Melissa
A more detailed (sometimes repetitive) look at the subject that most intrigued me about Bringing Up Bebe: the dramatically different approach to food and meals for French families, as compared to North American. Set mealtimes; no snacking whatsoever; healthy, natural and local foods; leisurely family mealtimes where enjoying food and each other's company is the priority; a calm expectation that if you try something enough times, you'll like it--these "food rules" are taken as a given by the Fren...more
Cindy
It really bugs me the way the French think they are so much better than us. Every few months or so there is book telling us all about it.

The worst part is that they are mostly correct.

I agree 100% with how the French teach their children to eat. They are brought up that vegetables are delicious. Radishes with salt and cucumbers with vinegar are a couple of examples of their "gouter" meal, or after school snack.

French children aren't brought up thinking that fruit snacks or processed mac and ch...more
Melissa
It's bold, in this day & age, to write a book wherein you admit that your forays into getting your children to eat foods that they were unused to resulted in them going to bed crying & hungry; that you carried ketchup in your purse when you took your kids to French restaurants; that after getting your husband to move back to his hometown in France, you told him a year later that you wanted to move back to Vancouver. And so I give LeBillon kudos for that, while at the same time I wonder h...more
Christina
This is an easy read, which has become more important to me since I have become the mother of a small child. I do hope to regain my full brain capacity at one point, but now is not the time yet.

I already had somewhat of an understanding how these French rules for eating work, as I am originally from Germany where rules are different, but similar to France. One major rule in France is that adults do not snack, and children only snack once a day. I do agree with Billon that here in the US (and in...more
Liz
May 02, 2012 Liz rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
I rather enjoyed this book, and appreciated Le Billon's self-deprecating tone. Le Billon (she's Canadian) and her French husband decide to relocate their family to his small village in Brittany and quickly learn that her kids' eating habits will not cut in the the strict food culture of France. I liked that she both embraced the French food culture and questioned it as well, and acknowledged that there are clear cultural differences in what the French value and what North Americans value. What I...more
LauraW
Although I do not have young children any more, I enjoyed reading this book. As a substitute teacher, I go to many different schools and I have previously taught regularly in quite a few more and I am not happy with the eating habits I see kids developing. It started with water. There was a big push to have kids drink more water and since the water from drinking fountains was often not very good, kids started bringing their own water bottles. Then kids would substitute juice for plain water, whi...more
Betsy
A very interesting read about a family who moved to Brittany (France) for a year to live near the husband's family. The wife is Canadian, the husband is French, and they met at Oxford. I thought this made the book that much more interesting. If I dragged my family to France, I doubt I would have gotten as much "inside information" on the way things happen at the family level as this woman did (after all, her in-laws were all there, all French, and firmly committed to the French way of life).

I th...more
Amanda Nelson
Repetitive, but intelligent. I have little patience for children who demand that their parents make them separate meals, and even less patience for parents who comply. I began to see my toddlers developing some pickiness and decided to nip it in the bud- the book pretty much just confirms what I suspected I would have to do to make that happen. The sum of the book is basically "you're in charge, not the child, and don't expect them to be adventurous and healthy eaters if you aren't." If you alre...more
Nancy
Interesting view of eating in France. I take issue with the author's premise that breastfeeding on demand results in the "constant eating" phenomena she finds in N. American kids versus French kids. Rather I would place the blame on the food industry and its constant marketing of "snack" foods to children. It is healthier for the mother and the baby to follow the baby's lead while breastfeeding - this allows the child to learn to eat to satiety, a big part of the French child's education about f...more
Anne
I would classify two out of my three kids picky eaters. After recently reading Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman I was in French mode and this book looked interesting. Who wouldn't want to cure picky eaters? I have been experimenting on my kids while reading this book over the last month. As a family we are trying so many new foods and although I can't say they LOVE something like brussel sprouts, they will eat them when I make them into a soup. Which is amazing! It has changed my view on fa...more
Smckever
The author is a Rhodes Scholar and a professor. In typical academic style she is way too repetitive with her points in each chapter.

The message of the book and anecdotes are very good, I just think it could have been edited down to less than 100 pages, or made in the form of a cookbook instead, since there are several recipes in the back anyhow.

The back cover has an illustrated version of the "10 French Food Rules", and you really could just read those and be done with it.

Not really a book th...more
Mickie
I am ambivalent about this book. I agree that North Americans have some serious issues with food that need to be addressed and I liked the recipes in the book--I would have loved more of these recipes and I would have liked them to be interspersed throughout the book closer to the anecdotes about the recipes. I am interested in other cultures and other ways of eating and I found the book fascinating and a bit shocking in parts.

On the other hand,(hold your applause AND your rotten tomatoes, pleas...more
Heather
I was not impressed. The writing was fine, but I felt like there weren't any new ideas. I stopped about a third of the way through and skimmed the rest. She may have been exaggerating about their pre-France eating habits, but they were the kind of habits I'd never allow in my house anyway (short-order cooking, eating nothing-ever- but pasta and parmesan cheese for lunch, and having snacks constantly available) so doing something different was not a revolutionary idea for me. Even the recipes she...more
Kelley (Against GR Censorship)
I really enjoyed the contrast in the French perception of food vs. those in North America. I am a picky eater (no fruit or seafood) and worry that my kids would inherit the same issues. Without reading this book, I might not have had the tools to prevent my future kids from sharing my anxious relationship with food.

In my opinion, the last generation (or two) have lost the basic skills of buying, storing, preparing and eating food. For example, there are many vegetables I don't consider buying b...more
Little
To sum up the entire book in a sentence: people will rise or fall to your expectations of them. There are a lot of fun facts about French school menus and statistics about health, but basically that's the book. There are ten "rules," but they don't amount to more than saying "expect your children to eat like adults."

Actually, the French approach to children is very much like that. French people see children as adults in training. So from the earliest days of a baby's life, he or she is expected...more
Gail
If you are expecting your first child or have young children, read this book NOT Dinner a Love Story. DALS will teach you how to create picky kids This book will teach you how to avoid it in the first place and to fix it if you have already made that mistake.

I have had this book on my to read list for months, but because my kids are teenagers, I knew I was not the target audience. I finally read it and I am glad I did. I have to state for the record that I agree wholeheartedly with the French ap...more
Laura
The author writes about how she changed her kids eating habits to make them more 'French' during a move to that country, and how it made them more disciplined, and helped the entire family to eat more healthily. She raises some interesting points about how we feed our kids - most pointedly, about modern North American snacking. It's no wonder so many kids are obese when we give them unhealthy snacks 3 times a day! She also raises good points about eating slow, and taking a little more time to pr...more
Louise
2.5 stars, but who's counting?

This book could have been shorter if it was edited better to cut down on the repetition. It seemed like every chapter contained at least a couple introduction pages about the family's situation in France and French culture. It gets pretty tiring reading the same thing over and over again.

While it was interesting to read about the differences in food culture between France and North America, I had no sympathy for the woman writing this book. It was her idea to uproot...more
Lee-ann Sleegers
French Kids Eat Everything (and yours can too) by Karen Le Billon from Harper Collins 2012

I'm always looking for ways to get Miss R to eat better, even though most of my friends and the family doctor don't think she's picky. By reading Karen's book I've discovered that Miss R maybe isn't much different then most of her peers, but that doesn't mean things can't change.

French Kids Eat Everything presents things in such a way that it is easy to see where the two cultures, North American and French...more
Abby Lyn
Having just read the best-selling French parenting book "Bringing up Bebe," I launched into a more focused examination of French gastronomie and its impact on their children's eating habits with "French Kids Eat Everything." Le Billon describes (in an admittedly much too long book) her daughters' remarkable transformation from typical North American picky eaters to enthusiasic mini gourmets after her family's move from Vancouver to Brittany. Le Billon translates most of what she learned from liv...more
Natalie
I loved this book. I have not read the controversial "Bringing up Bebe" or "The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", but from what I've heard about them, and comparing it to this book, "French Kids.." is much better.

It is the story of a Canadian who married a Frenchman. When their daughters were about 6 and 2, they moved to Brittany, France for a year to be near his family. Once there, they got a lesson in French parenting and child education. And in France, being "well educated" includes an educat...more
Alexandra
I found this book inspiring! I am the parent of an adventurous, fruit-and-vegetable-loving four-year-old eater, but I still found plenty to think about and take to heart in this book. The main take-aways for me were:

1) Even kids who like a variety of healthy foods will reach for starch, sugar, or processed foods when given the choice. (This seems obvious in retrospect, but I had somehow thought that if I simply cultivated a love of fruits and vegetables in my child, he would eat healthy on his o...more
Darren
It is too good to be true, it must be propaganda issued by the French government. French children eat everything? EVERYTHING?

Well, maybe some of the problems related to what we (and our children) eat are cultural in general and some of the guilt and "need to change" should be focussed more at the parents instead of the children as, after all, maybe the child only does what the child knows? Here in a serious, yet light-hearted text, the author looks at the "education" she and her family received...more
Catherine
I loved this book. I liked the writer's voice and style, and I thought she found the perfect balance between factual information and stories from her personal life. I was drooling over some of the food descriptions, and was glad to see she had included a chapter full of recipes (although there are a lot of baby food type recipes). I found a lot of inspiration in this book, and while we cannot adapt a completely French style of eating (American school cafeterias are nothing like the ones in Franc...more
Madison
I love reading books that change my perspective about food and my life. I found myself identifying with Karen a lot. I am a picky eater. I know that I want to increase the amount of real food that my family eats, but I am also terrified at the thought. I agreed with most of the rules she listed and have included them below to help me remember. I loved that she included simple recipes at the end of the book as well.

If you want the cliff notes version of the book read pages 210-235; Tips and Tric...more
Rachel
I enjoyed the author's story of moving from Vancouver to France to live there for one year and try this food experiment, which wasn't as easy as she originally thought it would be. Having lived overseas for 9 months while at school, I know how hard it can be to be a foreigner in another country, even if you speak the language (which sadly the author didn't). I did like that she included some of the recipes she regularly uses with her family in the back of the cookbook, most of which are describe...more
Margaret Sankey
I must preface this with the note that I do not have children, and have no idea how or if I could deal with crying and whining. However, this is how the cousins and I were raised--the privilege was all adults, and we wanted to sit at the table and pretend to know what was going on while they talked economics in French and literature in German, we knew food was laboriously prepared by people we respected and that it was offensive not to eat it after that effort, if you didn't want something (inab...more
Stacy
This is the story of how the author and her family spent a year in her husband's native rural village in northern France. She starts off the book with two picky kids with all sorts of bad (but not uncommon for North American) eating habits. One daughter is uber picky and only eats a handful of foods; both girls snack constantly and have poor table manners.

The author gets a rude awakening when she sees the comparison between her two daughters and literally all of the other children in France, wh...more
Losososdiane
The first thing this book made me realize is how much eating habits have changed in North America in the last 20 years. The author writes about snacking nearly continuously all day and making snacks available to her children constantly. This shocked me. Michael Pollan must be correct in saying that most of us are basically corn chips from all the snacking. The fear that your child might not be able to function or think because the child is hungry must be terrible. All that anxiety about food, ab...more
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Getting to YUM: The 7 Secrets of Raising Eager Eaters The Picky Eater Cure 2 Book Bundle: French Kids Eat Everything and Getting to YUM French Kids Eat Everything (and Yours Can Too): How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters

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“French parents are provided with very different information about food, and about children's eating habits, than American parents. This is because French doctors, teachers, nutritionists, and scientists, view the relationship between children, bood and parenting very differently than do North Americans. They assume, for example, that all children will learn to like vegetables. And they have carefully studied strategies for getting them to do so. French psychologists and nutritionists have systematically assessed the average number of times children will have to taste new foods before they willingly agree to eat them: the average is seven, but most parenting books recommend between ten and fifteen.” 4 likes
“Bruno Rebelle, head of Greenpeace France, summed up the outpouring of national support: “You see, in the United States, food is fuel. Here, it’s a love story.” 2 likes
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