Category #2 · Friday Favorites · Mealtime

Eating Like the French Kids: No More Snacking

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I have been completely inspired by some new readings I discovered recently about how the French (particularly their children) eat. I wouldn’t say my two toddlers were bad eaters. However, we had slowly been becoming more and more lax, and I noticed meal time consisting of them picking at their plates for a few short minutes before jumping down and playing again. As one could only guess, this equaled zero trips to restaurants. I was not about to be the mom with two wild banshies running through the aisles while she tried to scarf down her plate, tasting nothing in the process.

I knew we needed a change but wasn’t particularly sure in what way we should embark. This is when I discovered the ways of the French. I have slowly started incorporating more and more of their eating habits into our family life.

It has been AMAZING!

My kids actually sit at the table and eat–for a long time! So long I have been able to enjoy each and every one of my own meals to the very last bite, even finishing before them sometimes. Wow, talk about a mommy dream!

This has been working so well with us that I would love to start share some of these tips with you!

Do we follow all of these all of the time? Of course not. Rules are made to be bent, right? There are vacations, sick days, soccer days. . . it just doesn’t always fly. But on a whole, this is how we do eating over here.

Each Friday I will be sharing a different “French kid” method we have started incorporating! Here is my first Friday’s French kid!

We keep snacking to the ultimate low.

What? Am I really being serious right now??? What kid, or American for that reason, doesn’t snack–all the time. Before implementing this new way, I did not leave the house without something always in my diaper bag. The kids even knew it, digging through its contents whenever they felt the need for some more goldfish crackers or cheerios. Their carseats were always filled with something in the cup holder, their stroller the same.

French kids eat three solid meals a day, with one small nutritious snack after school, such as a piece of fruit or applesauce.

What does this mean, this limited snacking? It means your kids are hungry when mealtime rolls around. And hungry kids eat! As the French say, “Hunger is the best seasoning,”

This one was huge for me. I always worried about my kids being hungry, therefore we snacked. A little hunger, however, is not a bad thing. It is something that is actually good for them to learn as children, rather than growing into adults who always feel the need to snack whenever a little pang hits. If you wait until the meal, when you are truly hungry, that serving of mixed veggies is going to both look and taste great. If you filled yourself up on granola bars, you will probably just skip right over those veggies to something else.

By only eating at meal times, with perhaps a small, nutritious snack when we know a meal may be running a little late that day, this momma has reached a new victory over here.

My kids are actually hungry at mealtime, and they EAT! Just yesterday I made this delicious cheesy chicken & broccoli quinoa dishI doubted they would really eat more than a few bites of this health filled bowl. I couldn’t believe it when I just sat down to my own bowl that I heard them both requesting “more.” I filled their bowls up three times!

Why? For starters, because they were hungry. There is more reasoning as well, but that will wait for next Friday’s post. 🙂

What are your thoughts on this? How do you do meals/snacks around your place? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Sources:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12268/10-eating-rules-french-children-know-but-most-americans-dont.html

http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2012/06/french-kids-eat-everything.html

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/karen-le-billion-french-children-eat-anything

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49 thoughts on “Eating Like the French Kids: No More Snacking

  1. I LOVE THIS! American moms can be so defensive about snacking and overeating. This is one of our family’s “guide books” that we refer to all. of. the. time. It even helped my husband and I moderate and improve our approach to eating and increased our pleasure. Thanks for sharing this! We need to change the way mamas eat and feed their babes at a core level to see healthy changes we all hope for our children and their future.

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  2. I totally agree! I try not to give my kids too many snacks because they will be hungry when it’s time for a meal. It’s difficult when you have preschoolers at home. I love your “French kid” Friday idea! Looking forward to reading your tips! 😄

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    1. Thanks Veronica–I am excited to share them all! 🙂 It can be hard with little ones! I try to keep us away from the kitchen when at home, to distract them with other things. It has been working well so far. 🙂

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  3. Absolutely true!! Well done you for adopting the way of the French… it is the same in Italy as well. Kids sit at the table with the adults and eat. They don’t pick, they don’t whine or complain, they EAT. No responsible parent would ever starve their child on 3 square meals a day and a healthy snack! My HH was adamant about eating meals as a family, and to this day, we empty nesters still eat at the table. It is a meal, but it is also social time. Excellent advice above, and I hope more listen to it!

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  4. Love that book! We also have limited snacks in our house since I read that book. It has helped dramatically with my 5 year old and his picky eating. He is hungry now at meals, eats what he is given, and is happy with it! We also love the conversations at the table! The french are doing something right here 🙂 Great post!

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  5. THIS. I get so frustrated when I come home from work and I learn my kids have been snacking since my husband picked them up, because then they don’t eat dinner. I totally get it, it’s an easy way to keep them quiet, happy, and occupied. But on days I don’t work I am really mindful of not snacking and they both eat much better at the dinner table. I’m trying to encourage my husband to follow the same lead on this on his afternoons with them, without being all “KNOCK IT OFF AND STOP FEEDING THEM!” 🙂

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  6. We do 3 snacks 🙂
    7am breakfast
    10 small snack
    12:30 lunch
    3 small snack
    6 dinner
    7:30 snack before bed
    Its important to keep blood sugar balanced with the hungry. Just like adults. 🙂

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    1. Crystal, that’s great that your kids still eat so well at their meals! I like that you put a good amount of time between each though, giving their stomachs time to be ready for some more. 😉

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  7. How did you phase out the snacking? The past few weeks, I feel like my kids ask for snacks constantly. It’s super frustrating! During the warmer months we are outside running around and it’s a healthy distraction. Now it’s too cold to go outside and I think they ask for snacks out of boredom. I agree with you, i want them to eat more at meals. Plus, I believe it will lead to healthier lifestyles for them as they get older. Any tips on effectively phasing out the snacking?

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    1. I know what you mean about it being more difficult when you are spending more time in house! I try to keep us away from the kitchen once the meal is done. Out of sight out of mind thing. 🙂 If they do want something I will offer a nutritious option, such as carrot sticks and hummus or apple slices. If they accept this then I know they are truly hungry. 🙂 It really is such a great thing though, Jess, and I think you will be very please. I have been in total shock and awe with how much, and how healthy, my two are eating at meal times. 🙂

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  8. This is fascinating Sasha. I haven’t read the book, but the concepts so mirror the way we do things in my house. My children always eat what we do, and thus enjoy quite strong flavours – olives, garlic, pickled vegetables, strong cheese etc – and if they don’t eat, that’s fine. There’s nothing else though :). I have always been very firm about sitting at the tabke and eating – when they were babies they were strapped into a high chair, and they are encouraged to have good manners, use their cutlery – and try everything. You don’t have to like it, but you must try it. I like the idea of putting more effort into setting the table, and especially in the summer, not snacking so much.

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  9. Awesome! I was doing this without knowing it was good! I picked up on scheduling 3 regular meals and one healthy snack from years of preschool teaching( not to mention to keep my sanity). All my kiddos, but especially my autistic ones, thrive on routine and so do I, frankly. Lol. I DO have French blood in me, though, so perhaps that figures in, too.:)

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  10. I was snacking WHILE i read this wonderful post! 😂😂😂 and there’s much to be said about this method and I am positive that it works well and wonderful for a lot of different families.

    In honor of moderation however, I do believe that he’ll be moderated snacking is okay and quite pleasant to keep the metabolism active all throughout the day.

    There’s a big difference between some carrot sticks and string cheese or potato chips and gummy bears.

    Your post is so good, I’m super tempted to try it but I know my kids and I know that they fall apart and get “hangry” if they’re allowed to go to long without some sort of nourishment.

    Something like this would work on me though I’m going to try it!

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    1. Definitely agree–who could ever without a carrot stick from their child! 🙂 I do think it can be quite beneficial to adults. I have noticed my calorie intake to be much lower since following this method. And fewer calories equals fewer belly rolls. 😉 🙂

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      1. So, here in India, we follow three main meals and in bw snacks are usually all about fruits and other power packed cereals. . Well, there is a lot of junk too. Indians usually stick a lot to heavy breakfast, mediocre lunch and dinner…but then, there is plenty of sugar and salt plus spices that are thrown into these meals…that’s a bit of a dampner!

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  11. Hi! I love this French method of eating. I like the fact that the kids eat the entire meal and not just a couple of spoons because they are full from their snacks. I do give my kids some nutritious snacks like yogurt and fruits. So I love French ways 🙂

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    1. Yes, to actually see my kids eat two, even three helpings at mealtimes is simply amazing! And I completely agree we should not starve our children! Small, nutritious snacks are definitely the way to go. 🙂

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  12. Yes! Have you read the book “Bringing Up Bebe?” It’s written by an American woman living in Paris (lucky thing). She has twins and a little girl. The book is an incredible comparison between French attitudes toward parenting, and especially mealtimes, and American. I loved it! We are trying hard to cut the snacking too, it makes such a difference. Be well – rachel

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    1. It can be a challenge, and I definitely don’t think you should starve your kids! 🙂 For us, the trick is to remain away from the kitchen when it is not meal time. And it takes time as well. 🙂

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  13. I really think your new idea will work, but keep in mind that the younger children are the more they need a hunger stopper. Healthy snacks are things like a piece of cheese, peanut butter, or yogurt. I hear mothers who claim they are giving healthy snacks to little ones and I see things like chocolate milk and chocolate covered cookies. It is not calories they need but energy and growth nutrients.

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  14. I need to get strict on this again, I KNOW my kids eat more without snacking. I think we use snacking as a crutch to help our kids get through the day when tired, over-scheduled, or bored…almost always snacks are not requested because of hunger. It’s a lifestyle I don’t want my kids falling into. Great blog post!

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