As most of you know I am a huge fan of Karen Le Billon’s book, French Kid’s Eat Everything!”WIth all of it’s amazing information about the eating habits of French children and families, there was one thing that stuck out as particularly counter to American culture- the ‘no snacking’ rule she writes about. It seems in France snacking is seen as a recipe for obesity. Across the pond here in America, over the past 10 or so years at least, we have all been told that the grazing, or eating small meals throughout the day is the way to get on the road to better health.
You see the pickle here, yes?
Statistically, I would have to say the French must be right as they suffer from very few diet related diseases as a country, as opposed to Americans who can equate their top two killers, heart disease and cancer, to unhealthy eating. Any Dr. Worth their salt will tell you that both heart disease and cancer result from years of making poor choices regarding what we put into our bodies, along with genetic disposition. More on diet and disease prevention HERE
But, wait! Is it just that the French eat smaller portions in general and less processed foods than we do? Or is the strict no snacking idea the key to a healthier body weight?
For me I would have a hard time denying my kid a snack if he was hungry. It goes against my “listen to your body” rule that I want to teach my son from the start. If you’re hungry, eat something. If you’re tired, lie down- you get the picture. BUT, my idea of a snack is a piece of fruit or cheese, or a few baked snacks. I think what you eat for a snack is the important part here along with portion.
Kids, especially younger children, are running around playing all day (hopefully) and they need little bursts of nutrition to keep them going. But the French must be on to something, right?
I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as ‘no snacking.’ I think it’s portion control, a higher quality of food, a more ‘whole’ idea of what food and cooking contributes to our lives, and a cultural emphasis on sharing meals with family and friends, just to name a few things. And of course wine- a glass a day keeps the dr. away! (that’s for you mom-I’m not trying to get walked off a plank for saying kids should drink wine.)
Multiple studies have tried to figure out this mystery of why the French have a lower mortality rate resulting from cardiovascular diseases and have focused on the idea of “The French Paradox”. While the French eat a version of the Mediterranean diet, which is considered to be a great diet for cardiovascular disease prevention, they have consistently consumed high amounts of animal fats as well, which is a big no-no for cardio health. Paradox indeed! A very, very, delicious paradox…
Here’s my two sense: I think by combining healthy food choices, portion control, and exercise (yes, I know, a shocking combo!) you really can’t go wrong most of the time. Revolutionary it is not. But neither is the saying everything in moderation. Really, we shouldn’t have to think about it too much. It’s like they say at the end of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life:“Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”