Avoid emotional eating. The French believe that food is not a pacifier, a distraction, a toy, a bribe, a reward or a substitute for discipline.
What does it mean to use food as a pacifier: we give kids something to eat when they’re impatient, when they’re tired, when they’re whining, when we need a few more minutes on the phone. This is a slippery slope. Kids soon learn that whining works. For busy or tired and distracted parents, this can result in an almost Pavlovian reaction. The danger is that this sets up a cycle in which snack food becomes the bulk of what kids eat, leaving them with less space for the more nutritious foods served at mealtimes.
We use food to discipline: Parents withhold food as a punishment and use the threat of with holding food to enforce good behavior. “Stop teasing your sister or you’ll go to bed without supper.”
Conversely food is used as a bribe ” do this and you’ll get some ice cream.” , but worst of all food is a reward.
French parents as a rule don’t punish or reward with food. They believe this will attach food to emotional baggage, that children will learn to to deal or bury their emotions with eating. This has many negative consequences as you can imagine. One is disrupting children’s ability to regulate their eating habits increasing the risk of eating disorders.
We don’t want children to use food as a response to emotional needs which have little or no nutritional basis. When bored, our kids turn to food. When they are tired they eat, when they are upset they eat.
Eating in France is treated as an occasion, and above all it is a social occasion. The French never eat alone. Because French food tastes so good it is an occasion to look forward to. The dinner table is where parents and children relax together. . It is where they appreciate food not only each other.
Look out for our next post as we talk more on french food rules to combat fussy eating in our next blog – enjoy