Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Thought on Convenient Foods

Here is a little cultural tidbit for you. In France, the average dinner time for families is not until 7:30 or 8pm. Because of this, the children (and sometimes the adults) eat a goûter. It's usually is given around 4:30-5pm and it is to help kids keep up their energy and last until dinner. This makes sense. However, my nutritionist's brain turns on a flashing red light when I see most of the children receiving cake, sugar filled applesauce, and candy for their goûter. Not just one or two cookies, but 4 or 5. I'm thinking, "How is this helping their bodies after a draining day at school?". At the park today, Claire and Matthew ate bananas. I only saw one other mother feeding her child fruit. I probably sound like I'm being very high and mighty, and I'm sorry if it sounds like that. My children do have their little treats now and then. However, I am concerned. Should we teach our children that it's ok to eat so much sugar. Will they be able to easily break that habit when they are older? It makes me wonder if this constant consumption of chocolate treats has always been the same in France, or if the "convenience" foods are slowly making their way into a culture which prides itself in the culinary arts and fresh food. It just seems so strange. But the "convenient" foods are not just a French thing, as my American friends well know.

Now that I am a mother of 3 hungry children, "convenience" foods often look so inviting and easy on the shelf in the grocery store. In fact, I'm positive that there is a little glow of light surrounding them. Sometimes it is a fight (depending how tired I am in the grocery store) to go home and fix a salad, juice the carrots, clean the apples, and wash the yogurt spoons. Not to mention remembering to make the soup so that it will be ready in time for dinner. But the knowledge of what is NOT going into my children's bodies when I work hard at preparation and cooking makes it worth while.

Please know that we do buy the occasional frozen pizza on family night or ice cream for a special dessert. However, there is an important element of balance to teach our children. In their minds (not mine) do they understand that the convenience foods and sweets are a daily privilege or are they "just for special times"?

Thanks for letting me give my opinion. Now to go clean all those dishes and yogurt spoons.


  1. I think you are bumping against a cultural thing. A traditional European view towards sweets it that they are for children and one doesn't eat them often as an adult. I know when we lived in Germany mom had to keep a constant eye on me to keep people from giving me sweets. I think the convenience foods may be changing that though.

  2. Great Post!!!! I always enjoy conversing back and forth w/ you, simply b/c we share so many similarities and esp. the one on health:) Our children definitely need to learn what moderation and 'treats' are AND that there are healthy versions of 'treats'. Not only will our children feel better, but they will be healthier w/ less trips to the Dr. and their little bodies won't have to work so hard at growing when receiving the right nutrition. I have found a wonderful new blog site that I can't wait to share w/ you:) I made the choc. cake last night and it was totally scrumptious....and the crazy thing is that it was made from NO flour/grains but rather black beans!!!! Honey and stevia were the sweetners.