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Pamela Druckerman is an American author and former staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian,[…]

For any American parents out there who are struggling with mealtimes, here are a few humble tips from the French.

Pamela Druckerman: For any American parents out there who are struggling with mealtimes, here are a few humble tips from the French: 

1.  First of all, get rid of the idea of kids’ food.  Kids can eat whatever adults can eat.  You know, there is one dinner and everyone has the same thing.

2. The other thing that you can do is serve vegetables first. It’s a very simple thing, you know, have a starter.  So kids are hungry, they sit down and what's in front them?  It’s a vegetable.  They’re much more likely to eat it.

3.  What you can say, what French parents say to their kids is, “You don't have to eat everything, honey, you just have to taste it.”  And it’s that tasting little by little by little that gets kids more familiar with the food and more comfortable with it and more likely to eat it the next time.  

4.  The other thing in France is that French kids really, except for once a day, don't snack in between meals.  There's one official snack time a day.  It’s called the goûte.  It comes around 4:00 or 4:30, and, other than that, kids eat at mealtimes.  And I think that helps explain why they eat so well, that's part of it, because, when they sit down to eat, they're actually hungry.  They haven't been snacking.

5.  But I think, also, approach food with joy.  I think that's a really important principle.  You know, French parents would say, you know, “I want my daughter to understand the flavor of carrots.  I want her to know leeks!”  You know, it’s like each one is sort of going to be her friend for life.  It’s not that, you know . . . French children are children.  You present them with a hamburger and a bowl of broccoli, and they’re going to pick the hamburger every time.  But the point is that French parents don't offer that choice.  

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd