The women may or may not get fat, but one thing seems clear: the French have a love-love relationship with food.
As an attendee of a recent educational forum in France, I got a taste of the country’s culinary culture, especially in its schools—a taste that may shed light on how to improve the health of American children.
A vivid memory I have from this trip is the image of a small family kitchen garden at nearly every house in the French countryside. Perhaps this is my takeaway message from the forum—noticing the connection in America between childhood obesity and a lack of family gardens.
Of course, it is easy to want to package one week in France and “Americanize” it. We start dreaming of national policy change and better research showing positive health outcomes for our children, but the reality is that none of us—in France or the United States—knows the perfect way to address childhood obesity.
Excerpts from "How the French teach their children to love healthy food"....
...I took to heart what I was hearing from French families: If you value your food and food time, then your child will. If eating is simply something you have to do, between everything else you have to cram in your day, that is probably how your child will think as well. ...“When kids get involved with their eating process and taste freshly grown veggies that they have watered and cared for, it changes mind-sets and creates adventures in eating,” says Dietitian Kindy Peaslee, founder of Healthy-Kid-Recipes.com.
Read more in this fascinating book by ordering either a hard cover or Kindle edition on Amazon.
To read the full article of the trip, download [Open a PDF file] the published story in Today's Dietitian magazine.
Spring had definitely sprung in France. Wide-open French-style windows let in the springtime sun, balmy breezes, the sounds of chirping birds, and the fragrant smell of lilac. Espresso coffee and delicious French pastries were served on a chateau terrace at umbrella café tables overlooking rose gardens and gurgling stone fountains.
A group of 16 chefs, educators, dietitians, and nutritionists recently came together in France’s Loire Valley for the 2007 International Exchange Forum on Children, Obesity, Food Choice, and the Environment.
The forum aimed to examine the ways in which the French feed their children, explore what school food should consist of, and learn how we can create an environment in our own communities that supports children’s health and their ability to learn.
We all wondered whether the French approach to school food makes a difference in keeping obesity and related health issues in check among school-aged children.
As healthy eating advocates, our exploration was not about copying the French; rather, it was about examining the differences in our country’s approaches and discovering how we may learn from each other.
Watch a video of the trip from my ASKTHEDIETITIAN YouTube site:
Spring 2007 International Exchange Forum
Children, Obesity, Food Choice and the Environment: Helping children make healthful food and lifestyle choices in the school, home and community environment.
April 22-27, 2007
Loire Valley & the Vendee, France