After all the comparisons where Americans come out badly compared to the French, it is a relief to know the French are flawed too.
Good News: French women worry about getting fat. And, they worry with good reason.
The obesity rate in France has skyrocketed to 14.5%. That's small potatoes compared to the American obesity rate of 35%, but it's huge compared to their obesity rate in 1997: 8.5%.
Of course, making fun of the French will only get us so far. Especially once we realize why the French are suddenly starting to get so fat.
The French are starting to adopt the American habit of...snacking.
According to the The New York Times, the snack market is growing at a steady rate of 3% per year; 61% of the French snack most days.
And, in keeping with another American tradition, the French are starting to diet.
Jenny Craig in France currently has 4000 active members!
We can learn a lot about feeding our kids from looking at how the French diet.
If you ever question how much of eating is cultural, check out the difference between Jenny Craig in America and Jenny Craig in France.
- Apparently American palates never mature. If you think your kids will grow out of macaroni and cheese, think again.
- Even what we consider low calorie is high calorie. The American menu has 200 calories more than the French menu.
- Americans chow down 6 times per day. The French? Only 4.
- The American demand for dessert is a frame of mind; it's not a necessity.
Am I the only one who thinks it's pretty funny that the American diet menu includes French toast, but the French menu doesn't?
The eating habits your children establish early in life have to work for them in the long run.
Otherwise, some day your kids will have to change their habits. (And we all know how hard that is.)
- Rethink snacks, both in terms of what you serve, and how often you serve them. Read Do Kids Need to Snack? and What to Do About Snacks.
- Keep "child-friendly" foods to a minimum. Do this by thinking of yourself as a Taste-Bud Shaper, not a Nutrient-Provider. Read WhyToddlers Don't Eat Vegetables.
- If you must serve dessert, start making it work for you. Read Dishing Up Dessert.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~