We're well aware that American and French parenting styles couldn't be more different. While each strategy has its ups and downs, when it comes to eating habits, there are a few takeaways American mothers could learn from French women. Rebecca Plantier, author of Lessons From France: Eating, Fitness, Family and the American mother of two half-French kids, recently shared a list of eating rules French children know (but most Americans don't) with Mindbodygreen. We've highlighted some of our favorites below to consider integrating into your children's healthy eating routine.
Sit down. Plantier emphasizes the importance of focusing on the food whenever you eat. Americans are prone to multitasking—combining eating with walking, driving, or interacting with digital screens. "You eat at the table, not in front of the TV or computer screen, then you leave the table and do something else," Plantier explains. Avoid making mealtime an on-the-go event, and train your children to be mindful of eating.
When the kitchen closes, it's closed. "No grazing after dinner," says Plantier. Snacks are common practice for American parents, but in France, they stick to strict meal times. Children will only have three meals a day (plus a goûter—a light snack mid-afternoon after school).
Get cooking. Keep the conversation about food and eating open and exciting. Children are always eager to learn. Speak about ingredients and how things were made. Have kids help out in the kitchen when they can, whether it's putting fresh vegetables into the pot or baking from scratch alongside you. "Being part of the process heightens appreciation, and builds good habits for life," says Plantier.
Now check out three French parenting tips every mom should know.