Last year, while on holiday in Bali, I was enjoying my usual holiday breakfast; baked beans and a massive plate of fresh fruit. As I ate my beans it dawned on me, my children had never so much as tried a bean and as a nutritionist I wondered how I let this happened. I mean, beans are a great source of protein; taste great; are loaded with vitamins and mineral; help to lower cholesterol; have a rich flavour, and are full of dietary fiber to boot.
With beans being an all round fantastic food, I decided the kids should try them. So, I offered my bowl of beans around the table. Much to my surprise, not one of my beautiful children offered to try even one bean, instead they all turned their noses up in disgust and waved their arms to say no way are we trying your disgusting food!
My first thought was, “What kind of a mother am I! How could I raise children completely devoid of the willingness to try new things?” I mean, food in general is fantastic and for them not to even venture to try my beans, something new, well this simply would not do! So, my husband and I set the task for the rest of the holiday to introduce a few ‘new’ foods and vowed that when we returned home we would put more effort into breakfast and mealtimes in general.
With both Vic and I working, our ‘traditional’ workday breakfast was ‘Kellogg’s Special K’ or Whole Wheat Cheerios’, on weekends we’d whip up eggs and pancakes. Overall, we were ‘very lazy’ food parents, ‘Quick and Easy’ was our motto! As long as the kids were eating breakfast, filling their belly and fueling their mind that’s what mattered.
Well, the kids refusal changed all of that! It was a real eye opener and a rather rude awakening! The next morning, during breakfast, the kids were tasked with eating ‘one’ bean each before they launched into their usual eggs and bacon or sausage holiday breakfast.
You don’t want to know how long it was before they were finally allowed their eggs! That ‘one’ bean sat on their plates for what seemed like an absolute eternity! Vic and I sat there patiently. Knowing this was going to take some time, we had come prepared with our larger than usual coffees to keep us going!
As the time stretched from minutes to tens of minutes our patience and tempers grew more strained. As it turned out, simple cajoling wasn`t enough to get that ‘one’ bean down their throats. I n the end, we resorted to threatening to take away the ice cream they would have later in the day. Viola! The beans, as though by magic, went into each mouth, but they didn’t get swallowed!
There we were in a restaurant, with these kids who have a measly bean in their mouth and two of the kids had tears forming in their eyes. What! Seriously! We were not torturing them (at least we didn`t think so), what were the tears about? Finally, one by one they swallowed their individual bean, followed by copious quantities of water to wash it down!
The dramatics of the morning weren’t lost on Vic and I! We resolved to do it again, the next day! Thereafter, a bean was served to each child every day for the rest of the holiday and I`m happy to say it went down a little easier with each passing day.
Much to the children’s disappointment, on our return to Lebanon, where we live, we bought more beans! No, we didn’t have them daily, but we did implement a breakfast plan that included one morning a week for the lovely baked beans on toast. For the other days of the week breakfast, Vic and I dragged ourselves out of bed a little earlier so we could serve up things like eggs on toast, cereal, homemade muffins with yogurt and fresh fruit, pancakes and omelette.
This was quite a change for our family! “Where is the cereal?” they would ask, to which we’d say “it’s not on the menu today”, “when are we going to have cereal” they would ask.
Over time we finally we got the kids up to a teaspoon of beans! We were hugely impressed with this accomplishment. By the time the family they went to Australia, for the Easter holidays, to visit their grandparents, Vic was very happy to proclaim, to his parents, that at 2 teaspoon each they were doing fantastic. His mother was understandably bemused as she thought this was rather a small amount of beans, which of course it was, but compared to where we started in Bali….this was a major success!
Flash forward, we’re now six months down the road from Easter and I’m very happy to report the cereal box has been replaced by oats for porridge, (which is another story), and the teaspoon of beans has expanded to the kids complaining that one can of beans isn’t enough. They now request baked beans on toast instead of porridge!!
The decision Vic and I made to introduce beans to our children has taught us our kids palates are a product of what foods we offer them. I never thought I would see the day our kids ask for more beans! Or for beans at all, but it has come. It goes to show with a little (ok, maybe a lot!) of perseverance kids can eat a healthier protein and fiber rich breakfast, that prepares them for the day ahead, and enjoy it!
Today cereal is gone from our home, we have completely done away with it and we`ve saved both health wise and financially by not purchasing it.
Making healthy food choices is an incredible experience, one that gives you and your loved ones the physical and mental strength and energy to meet the days challenges. To eat the cereal or beans, neither are the panacea to health and happiness, but one will give you an edge on the day. It is after all, Your life, Your choice.
If you have questions concerning kids and nutrition please drop me a line at Ask Allison. I invite you to join the mailing list to receive my monthly updates on health and nutrition. Thank you for reading my article, I look forward to you checking back in.