BELGIUM: Bah Bon

BELGIUM: Bah Bon

Bah BonI’ve  yet to meet a mom who is not monitoring her kid’s eating habits. Some might even be obsessed over it, others just make sure their kids eat enough or don’t overeat. Food can be filled with cultural, health or moral values and seems an important subject in most families I know.

Every single one of the moms I know, seems to have her personal truth about food, or is at least searching for it. I know quite a few moms who vouch for strict vegetarianism, sugar free, all organic, low-carb, macrobiotic, low-fat or a mix of those. Others cook without lactose, gluten, sugar, eggs, nuts, soy and other allergy or intolerance boosters, by necessity or by conviction. But there’s also quite a number who just like to stick to their grandmothers’ favourite mashed potatoes with pork chops and piccalilli, because that’s what they were raised with.

Myself, I mix quite a bit of the above. My life is all about compromises. As a student, I used to be vegetarian, but now we eat vegetarian for only about 3 days a week. I also restrict the amount of lactose, because of my daughter’s (mild) intolerance. I make sure they eat at least one piece of fruit per day, but most days it’s two or three. And because we are Belgian, we have our two-weekly take out of ‘French’ fries, which originally came from Belgium. Or maybe even from Flanders.

I would not call myself obsessed, but I do keep a detailed mental track of what my kids eat in a day, and try to compensate by the 80/20 rule I adopted from a fellow World Mom: if they eat healthy for 80% of the time, that will make up for the 20% they eat junk.

When a mom has found her personal truth about food, obviously she wishes for her kids to eat by it; which they aren’t likely to do without a struggle. Not after they’ve tasted the Belgian fries, they won’t.

When my oldest was younger, I used to think I had it all together though. He ate whatever vegetable I gave him and his favourite dish was Brussels’ sprouts. I even recall quite some occasions on which I, the former vegetarian, bribed him into eating his meat by promising him an extra stem of broccoli. After a while, even the meat didn’t pose a problem anymore. He would eat whatever I served him.

Those good old days are over now.

It all started when our daughter arrived, age 2.5. She came from Ethiopia and was not used to our diet, not mentally, but also not physically. The first time I served her something green, she just threw it on the floor. Not out of a whim, but because she was clearly convinced it was not edible. She even tried to take it out of my mouth. Having been fed mashed dishes all her life, she was also not used to chewing. She did like bread and she did her best chewing it, but we had to take her to a physiotherapist to sooth her jaw pains. So we customized our cooking to her and introduced new stuff every once in a while. The one dish that never posed a problem was, indeed, our Belgian fries.

Meanwhile, our son, then 5, seemed to finally grasp that there was such a thing as rejecting food. I don’t know whether it was his sister’s example, the TV shows he started watching, his classmates or just normal evolution, but he started getting more selective each month. He also ate with his hands more often, just like his sister was used to. I went from having one kid with excellent eating habits to two picky, messy eaters.

After two years of convincing myself it was just a phase, this year I started implementing some strategies to get them to eat more balanced. Ultimately, what they were eating wasn’t all that bad but I was getting tired of the drama and the struggle to get them to eat what I believed was good for them. And most of all, I wanted them to develop the discipline to choose healthy by themselves, and not just because I ordered or rewarded them.

First, I tried the Yucky List. A colleague of mine had it at home, and it worked perfectly for her family. The idea is that it is only natural to have different tastes and that you don’t need to like everything. The concept is that each family member can have three dishes they really don’t like, on that list. When it is served, they are allowed to refuse it and have bread instead. Or hope for a mom who cooks two different dishes in advance. Of course over time, you can change your preferences but when a fourth dish you don’t like is served to you, you have to eat it, before you can put it on the list (replacing another).

It seemed promising but after a few weeks, the kids started to change their list about every other day. Way too many family dinners were filled with  ‘I will put this on my yucky list for sure!’ and a lot of moaning and struggling, which didn’t really lighten the mood as I had hoped it would. We might pick it up again when they are older but for now, it doesn’t work for us.

After that, I changed my strategy to handing out a Yucky Coupon, Bah Bon in Dutch. I borrowed the idea from a friend who used to do cooking for youth camps. At these camps, each of the kids was given one Bah Bon for the duration of the camp.  They could hand it in if they didn’t want to eat one of the meals that was cooked for them. Of course, they only could do that once. And the ones who still had the Bah Bon at the last day of camp, could hand it in, in exchange for ice cream.

So that’s how we do it now and it works like a charm! The kids both have their weekly Bah Bon, which is very conveniently posted on the magnetic wall next to the dinner table. Whenever they complain about dinner (or lunch or breakfast), we just point to their Bah Bon and remind them they can hand it in if they wish. No strict words, just giving them a choice and a visual reminder. Our son hasn’t missed his Sunday ice cream once. Our daughter has, once, and she’s not likely to miss another.

Of course, this will only work if ice cream is really a treat for your kids. Mine don’t really get candy or other sweets that often, so for them this works perfectly.

And of course, it’s still kind of a bribe. But I like it much more than the daily ‘If you don’t eat it, you can’t have desert’ bribe. For one, because we don’t have desert every day. Second, because they have to manage the discipline to work all week for their ice cream, rather than getting an instant reward. Third, because I don’t exactly sell the ice cream as a bribe or reward but rather as an interpretation of the 80/20 rule: if they eat healthy and balanced all week, it is all right to have something unhealthy every once in a while.

Most importantly, I like this system because the kids themselves really like this system. They like being in control of what they (don’t) eat without any pressure from us, and most of all they absolutely love our weekly ceremony when they officially hand in the Bah Bon they saved in exchange for their well deserved treat.

Do you have a personal or cultural take on the food you serve your kids? And do you need similar strategies to convince them about it?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K from The Penguin and The Panther.

The picture in this post is credited to the author.

K10K

If you ask her about her daytime job, K10K will tell you all about the challenge of studying microbes in extreme environments, going from the deep underground to outer space. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising the Penguin and the Panther, her seven and five year old little rascals. The Penguin grew in her belly, turned out very, very white and wants to become a meteorite examiner, fireman and artist. The Panther grew in her heart, had quite, quite dark skin and wants to become a teacher, mother of thirteen babies and famous musician. Together they provide most of the feed for her blog, The Penguin and The Panther, but they are also the primary cause of why she struggles to find the energy for writing anything lately...

More Posts

BELGIUM:  The Importance of Being First

BELGIUM: The Importance of Being First

being firstThere is no denying that my eldest child is competitive.

Fiercely competitive.

The kind which makes for a future Olympic-Gold-Medal winner – competitive.

She needs to be first. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she is the oldest, but I suspect it is just part of her genetic make up.

Her father has the same drive to always do better than the rest, to drive himself towards new goals, to be better, faster, to force his body into running a marathon and to try to improve his time again and again and again. And he is willing to suffer for it, to endure muscle cramps, to run until his energy levels have been completely depleted and he is more dead than alive.

I’m not like that, neither is n°2. We are happily just pottering about, going about our business and we will get there in the end. So what if it takes us hours, weeks or months. So what if we don’t finish first. We ran, didn’t we? We did our part. Besides I do not like discomfort, mentally or physically.

Like so many characteristics, my daughter’s competitiveness is a two sided sword.
It is what drove her to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels in just two days, simply because a boy in her class could do it and if that boy could do it then there was no reason why she shouldn’t be able to as well.

It got her out of diapers so quickly simply because her friend was also potty training and she wanted to be first.

But there is a downside as well. Being only four, she aims to be first in just about everything she does. And I really do mean e-ve-ry-thing . Whether it is rolling in the dust, dressing herself, putting olives on a pizza, eating said pizza, learning how to count to 20, spelling out her own name AND that of mommy, to her it is a competition. She will try to ‘win’ at it, do a victory dance when she ‘wins’ and be inconsolable when she doesn’t.

There have been many conversations about how winning is nice but not so important that you need to bawl your eyes out when some other kid takes the prize and that she cannot always be first. That is OK not to always win, not to be top in everything and that there are some things, that I’m sorry my dear darling, you will not be able to do.

This – I have to admit – will be a though lesson for her to learn. And she will have to learn it, otherwise she’ll be a pill-popping, nervous wreck by the time she is 16.
And she will have to find a way to turn that competitiveness into something positive.

But there is the glitch in the whole affair. How will she learn?

Through experience? Will it just click one day? Will she simply just realize that she is not musical (she has inherited my signing voice, which sounds like a chorus of warthogs high on helium), that she cannot really jump that high. Will she be sad, will she cry, will she regret it her whole life or… will she just simply accept. Accept that yes, she sucks at music, dancing, mathematics, but hey, she has a knack for drawing awesome portraits and makes a killer brownie, so what the heck …

How did you or your child come to terms with the fact that there is something that you or s/he just is not good at?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our mother of two in Belgium, Tantrums and Tomatoes.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes

Born in Belgium on the fourth of July in a time before the invention of the smart phone Tinne is a working mother of two adorably mischievous little girls, the wife of her high school sweetheart and the owner of a black cat called Atilla. Since she likes to cook her blog is mainly devoted to food and because she is Belgian she has an absurd sense of humour and is frequently snarky. When she is not devoting all her attention to the internet, she likes to read, write and eat chocolate. Her greatest nemesis is laundry.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebook

CANADA: 3rd Caption Contest with JC Little of the Animated Woman!

The winner of a World Moms Blog t-shirt from our previous caption contest is reader, Elizabeth’s Boys, who commented,

“AHHH!!!! You’re getting my best dress from Target all wet!” 

It’s time for another caption contest with JC Little, the Animated Woman, of Montreal, Canada! She has created this next animation especially for World Moms Blog! Winner receives a World Moms Blog t-shirt!

Now, it’s up to you to tell us what this mama or baby is saying!  It can be funny, cultural, in another language (please translate, too!), or make a statement. Leave your caption in the comments section of this post, and our editors will pick their favorite caption!  (more…)

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

More Posts

CANADA: 2nd Caption Contest with JC Little of the Animated Woman!

The winner from last month’s caption contest is reader, Kelly, who commented, “Repeat after me…. Mommy gets pee pee diapers and Daddy gets poo poo diapers!”  Congratulations, Kelly! 

It’s time for another caption contest with JC Little, the Animated Woman, of Montreal, Canada! She has created this next animation especially for World Moms Blog!

Now, it’s up to you, to tell us what this mama is saying!  It can be funny, cultural, in another language (please translate, too!), or make a statement. Leave your caption in the comments section of this post, and our editors will pick their favorite caption! 

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by JC Little of Montreal, Canada. JC Little is The Animated Woman: mom, animator, humorist, and social media minx. Her short films and cartoons are showcased at TheAnimatedWoman.com, and she has a Disney-syndicated TV show My Life ME

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

More Posts

CANADA: Caption Contest with JC Little of the Animated Woman!

JC Little, the Animated Woman, of Montreal, Canada has created this animation especially for World Moms Blog!

 

 

Now, it’s up to you, to tell us what this mama is saying!  It can be funny, cultural, in another language (please translate, too!), or make a statement. Leave your caption in the comments section of this post, and our editors will pick their favorite caption! 

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by JC Little of Montreal, Canada. JC Little is The Animated Woman: mom, animator, humorist, and social media minx. Her short films and cartoons are showcased at TheAnimatedWoman.com, and she has a Disney-syndicated TV show My Life ME

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

More Posts