On the French Front: Today’s French Kids are Getting Fat

Aug 21, 2009 by

DSC_6479THE ONLY TIME FRENCH KIDS would eat outside of meals or official snack time, traditionally, would be when they were picking fruit or nuts found along their path or in the family orchard or vineyard, as my little darling is doing here while visiting her French grandparents this summer. –photo by Anna Migeon

I just got back from 17 days in France visiting my husband’s family. It had been three years since we’d been there.

And yes, we could see a difference, much as I hate to admit it. Fat French kids, once few and far between, are now plentiful. We’ve still got them beat, though: only about one in six French kids is overweight versus one in three in the US. We see more overweight adults, too, though it’s not yet at…

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On the French Front: Crazy French Beliefs about American Eating Habits

Aug 19, 2009 by

Stock eifel tower

I just got back from 17 days in France visiting my husband’s family there.

One evening at my parents-in-laws’ house, I met a woman whose first question to me was:  “But do you have regular meals at your house in America?”

I knew what she was getting at, but I felt defensive.  I knew she had a point, but I was irritated. Also, as if I would admit it at this point if the answer was no.

I felt like I was being asked if I had quit beating up my husband.  I felt like she was holding up a piece of our collective national…

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French Tea Time, Glorified After-School Snack, Crosses the Atlantic

Jan 9, 2009 by


Europeans know: we all need to relax with a hot drink, a little bite to eat and someone to talk to at the end of the day. This deep human need is one Americans have underestimated, but it’s a simple matter to give it its due.

The French tea time is a more sacred, more cherished form of our after-school snack. It is sanctified by certain civilizing traditions.

I first discovered this custom in 1989 at my husband’s parents’ farmhouse in a tiny French village. They call it le gôuter (“to taste”)—it is not a full meal—or “les quatre heures,” literally “the four o’clock.” Taken any time between 4 and 6 p.m., it is  reinforcement for the dairy farmers there before the evening milking. A light dinner is served later in the evening.

Far less varied than dinner or…

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Good American Additions to the French version of the After-School Snack

Jan 8, 2009 by

Smoothies (frozen fruit pieces mixed with some juice or milk in the blender)

Bananas or apples with peanut butter

Celery “boats” spread with cream cheese or peanut butter


Crackers and pesto (a sauce made with basil, nuts and cheese)

Salsa and chips

Whole wheat pita bread toasted

Cereal and milk, (less sweet, more whole grain and organic)


Tartines of peanut butter (open-face sandwiches)

Left-over corn bread with butter, honey

Related Post: French tea time: glorified after school snack: http://www.sacredappetite.com/2009/01/09/french-tea-time-glorified-after-school-snack-crosses-the-atlantic/

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Food Porn and How to Rescue Your Child from It Now

Jan 5, 2009 by

Overweight_kids_03 If you want to start the New Year out right with one thing that can have a major impact on your child’s overall well-being, turn off the TV.  TV’s effect on eating habits is reason enough, though only the beginning.

“Food on television makes one think about eating and gets one’s gastric juices flowing, triggering the release of insulin, lowering one’s blood sugar, and stimulating food cravings,” writes Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat. “It’s gastronomic pornography.”

Americans, unlike the French, have a conditioned impulse to snack while watching TV anyway, and food ads whip that urge to a frenzy.  For the French, food is always the main event, never background accompaniment to another…

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Close Encounters of the Food Kind: Single-Minded, Whole-Hearted Attention to Eating

Dec 16, 2008 by

How do the French get away with eating loads of high fat foods, and with such enjoyment, while remaining thinner and healthier than us Americans?  Viva la difference! It’s a question with a hundred answers.

For starters, let’s look at the French traditions of the table.  The guidelines to follow are small portions, of good things, in sequence.

Small Portions

The French value quality in food over quantity. The all-you-can-eat buffet is a foreign concept to them. What would be the point? Adults enjoy Real Food, and assume, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, that children will enjoy it, too. The French take largely for granted that Real Food is necessarily for health and life, and go straight to eating and drinking for enjoyment.

Americans more often eat…

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