Eating French: A Five-Day Experiment


Last week, my family ate like the French for five days. We used the rules laid out in Karen Le Billon’€™s new book French Kids Eat Everything and combined them with my own personal experiences of living in the south of France, to come up with some guidelines for the what, when and how much we should consume.
I’€™m happy to report that we fared quite well, and only two complaints arose during the five-day trial. The first was from my husband, Rob. He confessed to feeling hungry every single night of this experiment, and found he was always craving a snack around 10 pm. To be perfectly honest, I don’€™t think that’€™s any different from any other night, but I believe he was more aware of it because he didn’€™t have the option of getting something to eat (one of Karen’€™s rules is ‘€˜no snacking’€™’€”she believes it’€™s okay to feel hungry sometimes).

The second complaint came from the kids, and was related to’€¦ snacking! While they wanted to eat a little more frequently than I would let them, by the fourth day they stopped asking for something before bed, which ultimately felt like a really good thing.

Here’€™s a brief breakdown of what we ate last week:

Breakfast: This was the same every day. Warm baguettes (fortunately we live around the corner from a patisserie) topped with creamy butter, local honey and/or Nutella.

Lunch: This was the hardest meal to make, mostly because I was packing lunches for everyone. I included roast chicken, vegetables, leftover soups/stews, fresh fruit, cheeses, cured meats, dips, and crackers in the lunch boxes (Rob brown bags his lunch, too).

Snack (Gouter): This is an important part of the French diet and we indulged in this mini-meal every day. No one complained about the slices of cake, chocolate croissants and homemade cookies eaten after school.

Dinner: This was easy and often very simple. I made vegetable soups and served them yogurt, cheese and meats. Other dinners were made up of stew, lentils and sausages, roasted vegetables, and omelettes.

A few of Karen’€™s other rules include:

  • Eat family meals together.
  • The kids should always eat what the adults eat.
  • You don’€™t have to like it but you do have to taste it.
  • Avoid emotional eating (no food rewards, no bribing).

Could you eat this way for a week? A month? Do you agree with Karen’€™s rules?


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