Hi there! So, I'm really going to summarize this topic since my post-spring break house is bloating with chores. I'm just so excited to share about this because we are trying it and it is working!
So what is it, you ask? Well, in Bringing Up Bebe, Pamela Druckerman talks about French kids and food. She researches how they are good little eaters who do not throw food, and will eat a wide range of foods. They can even sit through 4 course meals at a restaurant! (Seriously...no way!)
The first idea regards snack time. French kids eat breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack at 4pm (a goûter), and dinner. No other snack times. So when they sit down for meals, they are actually hungry. And the goûter is a special time, where they sometimes have visitors to enjoy the snack with. Druckerman tells a story of a mother and daughter who were out late morning and picked up a pastry. They had already eaten breakfast, and when they purchased the pastry the little girl knew that she would get to eat it during the goûter at 4:00. She didn't even ask her mother if she could eat it that moment. In the US we allow kids (myself included) to eat what they want, when they want.
The kids and I have been doing this, and it is going so well! We do our snack at 3:00 and dinner around 6:30. I remind Tegegne to make sure he is full at meal time. And we totally look forward to 3:00 and really make it an enjoyable time to snack together. He still asks for snacks at other times, but I remind him that he can have it at 3:00. He is getting used to the idea. Our neighbor gave him a large packaged muffin (ha!) yesterday and he immediately said, "Mommy, I want this for my 3:00 snack!"
The second idea is what meal time looks like, and how, and what is offered. In France, preschool is free and quite good. There is one committee in Paris who makes the meal plan for all of the public preschools in Paris. Druckerman sat in on one of these meetings and was in awe of what was on the menu. Each meal is in four courses. They start with a vegetable. (This is genius, btw.) One of the meals they planned was a follows. Chopped tomato with balsamic drizzle, a nicely prepared fish for the second course, blue cheese for the third course, and fruit for dessert. (Can you believe that?!) Each preschool has a chef, and the food is nicely prepared and presented. They also find it important to describe the food to the children, offer them a variety of foods, and reintroduce things often.
I have also been doing this with Tegegne and Hensley and it is fabulous!!! I'm giddy about it and hope to keep it up! Hopefully, we can continue to eat this way as a family. Tegegne has been so excited to eat the first course and see what is next! He also asked me to describe the food again so he could tell Hensley! It is easy and so fun. As far as meal planning, I've just got to make sure we have fresh vegetables, a protein, and fruit or yogurt.
Here's what they ate last night. For the starter, chopped red and yellow pepper and broccoli with a poppy seed drizzle ((I tried to make it sound fancy! ), rotisserie chicken with barbecue drops, and apple, pineapple, strawberry, and grapes chopped with a dollop of Greek yogurt with an agave nectar drizzle. In the book she notes that the child must try the food, but they do not force them to eat everything. Hensley tried several pieces of the vegetables, ate all of the chicken (which she had refused previously), and of course LOVED dessert! Due to the lack of fine cheeses at a reasonable price, we are sticking to 3 courses! We have a large stack of small melamine plates, that works great for courses.
Other things she mentioned...during the week young children eat around 6:30 and go to bed (or to their room to play), then the parents do mealtime alone! Weekends are for family dinners! They also bake with their young children most Saturdays. They stress the importance of having the child help prepare the meal in some fashion (or at least setting the table), so they will be much more excited about eating it. If they don't sit down and enjoy a meal, it doesn't count in France. They do not eat on the go like Americans do.
What these basic rules do for children is so valuable. They grasp patience, and do not have the mentality that they get what they want whenever and however.
I know it is not easy to enforce these ideas when those around us are eating snacks at 10 or 11am, but we've been doing it and will continue.
Ha, so much for making this short. Thanks for reading, and if you are intrigued at all I'd love to talk more about it...and I'd highly recommend the book!