Friday, September 14, 2007

Rice vs. Cereal for breakfast

A classic confrontation of East and West takes place in my kitchen regularly. I usually wake my daughter and get her ready for school in the morning while my wife sleeps with our 2-year-old. Whenever I try to feed my daughter rice in the morning, she always moans and complains and just plain old doesn't want to eat it no matter how I fix it. But ask her if she wants a bowl of Cherrios and she will woof them down like a good old-fasioned hoover. So, I'm thinking, it's not like I'm feeding her Lucky Charms or Chex Choco or something ladened with sugar like that. Just plain old Cherrios, the same kind I ate when I was a kid and the same kind that is enjoyed for breakfast by millions of American and Canadian kids who have been growing up just fine in the meantime. But if my wife hears that she didn't eat rice and kimchi for breakfast, I might as well have given her a nice big bowl of arsenic and cyanide because in her view, cereal has absolutely no nutritional value. Even when I show her the side of the box and all the stuff about 'vitamins and minerals, balanced diet, etc' it only enrages her further.
Now, I am not stupid enough to try and say that Cherrios is somehow better for my daughter than a nice bowl of rice and a few bites of the 'miracle banchan'. But, I would think that constantly chiding her to "eat" every 5 minutes and taking 30 or 40 minutes to down a small bowl of rice with egg and kimchi is more stress than it is really worth. And I really don't want my daughter to grow to be one of those Koreans adults who thinks they will die if they go a day without rice and kimchi. Surely this kind of breakfast browbeat has something to do with the reasons some people think like this.
My wife points to the fact that so many Americans are overweight and she wants to make sure our daughter does not grow up to be overweight like most of my family. O.K. no argument with keeping my daughters weight down but what arguments do I have in my favor. "Even Oprah said cereal was bad. " How can I top that logic?


Hiba said...

Interesting post! is this a common opinion about cereal in Korea?

Fencerider said...

I'm not really sure but I guess it must be prevalent enough....The only disturbing thing is that at the local market you can find a 3 by 2 meter shelf full of various cereals, most are copies of what you see in the states (kellogs and post both have a presence here) I don't know how much they sell but obviously somebody somewhere in Korea is eating it...maybe the 1,000,000 foreigners living here or child abusers or something.

Kim said...

"who thinks they will die if they go a day without rice and kimchi."

You mean, you won't die if you don't eat this each and every day? J/K

It isn't the sugar that is of concern here..Cheerios has very little sugar in it. Cheerios might even have more vitamins and minerals in it, because it was artificially added. A bowl of rice/kimchi and egg as you mentioned has a higher amount of protein and fat, which is what children need in the mornings to help their brains. It has been scientifically proven that the brain needs, protein and fat, not sugar and carbs.

The Japanese did many studies about what the best breakfast is to help the brain be better and help with education. The best was meat and eggs..protein and fat basically. One of the reasons the Japanese always thought their children were better then Americans.

So, even though, we eat cereal here in the mornings, and my almost 6 year old prefers choco loco and other sugary things, when it comes to a day where she needs to be alert,I push the eggs and rice/kimchi and her favorite anchovies. I have noticed she does much better and it stays with her longer and she is less hyper.

As for me, I can't stand cereal. My breakfast of choice is rice, kimchi, and seaweed with maybe some eggs and veggies..actually, when I was in Korea, I would always get bibimbap for that's a breakfast of champions!

Fencerider said...

The comment about dying if rice is not consumed was a bit of hyperbole but i think you got the idea....I don't deny the fact that rice, eggs, and kimchi is nutritionally better for my's just not as convenient of course and I fail to see why she just couldn't eat that for a day or two a week (i did talk my wife into letting her do it by her choice once a week, this has made her a little more cooperative the rest of the week) She's getting old enough to feed herself in the morning, but with rice, she just putts along and breakfast is much too time consuming in the morning.

Melissa said...

White rice by itself has very little nutritional value so Chez Woori we always prepare it with barley or brown rice or lentils to make it healthier, and our wee one enjoys it like that.

We also have cheerios, of course, but we try to dole them out in moderation and then as a snack with soy milk. I'm more concerned with the shit they put in cows milk than I am about the content of sugarless cereals!

As an aside - and I aplogize if this goes over and beyond the boundries of what you expected - I hope your daughter doesn't overhear any conversations regarding her (future) weight. Far too many girls start fretting and worrying about their weight far too early, imho. I think the best option is to encourage being active and fit and to focus less on diet or carbs vs. fat vs. calories vs. korean food vs western food ... :)

This was an interesting post! Thanx~

Anonymous said...

don't want your kids to have a weight problem? have them take tae kwon do! my brothers did it, but i didn't. Wish I did!

Fencerider said...

Thanks for the comments Melissa. I also add 곥 (beans and wild rices) to the mix for some added nutritional benefit. As for additives in milk...i really have no idea but i wouldn't doubt it one bit.
As for my daughters body image....well she knows that daddy used to be really fat and lost weight to look better and I always stress to her that I do it because I want to be healthier and live longer and I think kids need to hear and see that. IT's been no easy feat since I love to eat as much as I love to cook. She seems to have a pretty high metabolism so I'm not really worried about fat...i'm more worried about the opposite with her. My son will likely struggle with his weight as have all the men in my family, so I hope to instill a good eating ethic in him early...but none of this "I have to eat rice and kimchi" nonsense.:)
anonym...Taekwondo is a great sport and way for kids to get active at a young age...i have asked my daughter if she wants to join but she thinks it is too "difficult" and she doesn't like the violent aspect of it either (please don't flame me on this, it is a martial art but as they all contains an element of violence that is unavoidable) She is involved in jazz dance now and she really likes that. Thanks for the comments all...this has been the most prolific comment session so far...I hope to see more:)

Anonymous said...

hey, who knows, she might be able to dance herself out of a situation one day (half kidding)! I only say that because any sort of physical excersize at an early age that gets them away from the TV and video games and interacting with their peers and learning new things is good for their body as well as their mind. I only wish that my Korean mom was more pushy about me being active rather than docile. I wouldn't have to learn to be a nutritionist the hard way. Cheers!

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