+ Well Nourished | the pressure to feed children processed foods

Well Nourished Child- the pressure to feed children processed foods

I’m going to address a question from my last Well Nourished child post.  It was how to approach the pressure to conform when a friend or family member is not on the ‘same page’ as you are when it comes to feeding kids?  You know, we’ve all been there.  You’re at a gathering and someone offers your child some awful processed food that you would never consider feeding them.  Your child is drawn to the pretty package like a moth to a light – what to do?

Here are some of my thoughts, but I’d also love to hear some of yours.  Post a comment below and lets all help one another with this tricky issue.

Initial considerations?
I think what you do is very dependant upon who you’re dealing with i.e.; an ‘associate’ or a close friend, and also on the age of your child.  It’s such a difficult situation, as by rejecting the persons offerings can ignite a severe case of ‘mother guilt.’  Theirs, because they feel their food isn’t good enough for your child and yours, for offending them and because your child is upset and moaning at you – anything to get at the Thomas the Tank engine cookies on offer!  With a close friend, you should be able to explain your position and hopefully avoid hurting their feelings (or they will have asked before offering the food in question). A practice of diplomacy!

When your children are little…
What they don’t know won’t hurt them.  My children, having never had a lolly pop or easter egg at a young age, could be given one which they would hold and look at, because it looked ‘pretty’ before dropping and forgetting all about it a while later.  Of course, once they discovered what was inside the wrapping, that all changed!  Just hold off with young tots as long as you can and they won’t know any different.

Not the whole truth
When my kids were little, I confess, I stretched the truth!  I just found it easier to say they had issues with, or didn’t react well to certain offerings, than explain to a well meaning shop keeper handing out lollypops, that I wasn’t willing to create a metabolic disorder in my children by feeing them empty sugar filled treats!

Let it go
Sometimes, you just have to let it go, especially when they become independent and that little bit older.  I find this at birthday parties where I have to restrain myself from becoming a helicopter parent at the food table.  However I’m always smug when my children leave with a stomach ache or worse (like when my son vomited on my daughters head after overindulging at a party).  They both learned a lesson from that event!

Well firstly, it has to be said – tell the parent about Well Nourished!!  Sorry, couldn’t help myself but include a shameless plug!  But in all seriousness, sometimes receiving health advice from a third party is a good thing.  Even I try to avoid preaching to friends and sharing food advice, unless I am directly asked or I know the person is open to hearing it.  I know that people hate to be confronted with a tyranny of health information from well meaning friends.  Everyone is different and this needs to be respected.  But you can always tell them about “a great website where you’ve discovered some great recipes and health tips” – there I go again!

Lead by example
Of course this never stops you from leading by example.  My kids lunch boxes always attract attention and as you know, I love to share tips and recipes to nourish small bodies.  Badgering and shaming people to make change never works.  Leading the way yourself and setting a good example is best.

Find like minded or respectful friends
Like minded friends are always handy.  Having said this, I do have close friends that I certainly haven’t ‘rubbed off” onto.  One such friend, each time she has my kids over for a play date, sends me ransom text photos of my kids sitting at a small table, shackled with a pile of chocolate and sweets in front of them!  Lucky I have a sense of humour and she does actually respect my food philosophy.

Treat days
I find with my children, now they are older I can give them choice.  Treat days are a fair way to limit the amount of treats consumed and I have written about them here.

Lastly, I might just finish up with a lament!  I think it’s a real shame that choosing to feed myself and my family mostly real, whole foods is viewed as unusual or even weird.  When did processed food become the ‘norm’ and whole foods become ‘alternative’?  Food for thought.

In my mind, there’s no such thing as junk food – there’s junk and then there’s food.

Love to hear your ideas on this tricky topic.  So many social dilemma’s involved.  Let the forum of comments begin…what would you do if a friend buys her child a Barbie popper (for example) and your children want one too?


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Say no to junk

Say NO to junk! Photo via Pinterest.

  • Jodie Ticehurst

    Another good write up Georgia. When I first started making changes to the way we eat (only January this year) I become an over bearring evangelist wanting all my friends to eat healthy as well. I was doing it out of love, kindness and caring for my friends but realised I was actually an out of control nut job! I settled down and came to the conclusion that friends and family will arrive where I am in their own time (hopefully) and that my most important task in life is to teach my children how to navigate this processed world we now live in.

    I send a lot of people to your website when they taste the food I have around the house. My cupboards are completely different now! Thanks to you! Your labour of love is making a difference! Jodie

    • Thanks so much Jodie, you’re very sweet. I’ve been there too, wanting to share all of the things I’ve learned from treating very sick children and adults over the years. Wanting to make a difference to the world. I’ve got to the point where I feel finding a balance is the way forward. I love the saying “give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference between the two” – sometimes easier said than done. Keep leading by example, G x

  • Sally O

    We haven’t eaten processed food for over eight years now so have encountered many a difficult kids birthday party or social situation. I think the most important thing is to have confidence in yourself and the changes you are making to your children’s diets. Be proud of the nourishing food you feed them. Sure you will find birthday parties and get togethers difficult…(unless u go to Georgia’s house) :). Preparation is the key here, never go empty handed. Always take a plate to share and usually u will find all the children will be keen to enjoy. Your kids won’t feel left out if they see other kids eating the same as them. The other mums might even ask you for the recipe!

    Your real friends will support and encourage, possibly even join you. And the other acquaintances, does it really matter if they think you’re a nut case, you know you’re doing the right thing for you and your family and that’s all that matters!

  • Lynsay

    One thing I have learnt this year is to never assume what they will and won’t like. I catered a 6 yo birthday party with very little junk (alright there were cupcakes), and two of the most popular things were plain popcorn and chicken sandwiches. If you offer variety, they often surprise you.

    • Very true. I load sausage rolls and hamburger patties with vegetables and the parents can’t believe the kids don’t notice and actually enjoy them. If it’s there, on the table they’ll eat it. At the end of the day, they are just happy to be at a party with their friends. G x

  • Denise Cummins

    Some days you just have to let it go. What really bugs me is the people who give my kids junk food because they believe I deprive them in not letting them have any (my mother is a prime example of this). Someone once told me the body has its own excellent filtering system and the crap will be netted up and eliminated eventually. I don’t know if this is exactly true but I feel better thinking it is. Thanks for your great website, Georgia. Just bought some strawberries and more chia seeds to make your strawberry chia recipe for dessert tomorrow night. Keep up the good work. (Nice to hear from you too, Jodie.)

    • Thanks for your comments Denise, lovely to hear from you. Yes the body is a great detoxifier but has it does have its limits. Enjoy your chia pudding. G x

  • Kerri

    This is a problem I encounter all the time and it’s tricky! Between play dates/afternoon teas and after school activities where lots of well meaning friends offer my boys whatever afternoon treat they have I find they are being offered these foods sometimes up to three times a week! I always take plenty of nourishing yummy afternoon tea for them but when they are offered ‘treats’ well they are kids so it’s difficult and uncomfortable for everyone!! (They are 6.5 and 5yo).

  • Kelly Berghella

    Great realistic advice Georgia. I went through a phase where I was pretty gung-ho, but have chilled out now. I figure if we can eat natural and wholesome food for the majority of the week where I have control, then the rest will sort itself out.

  • Karen Allison

    I don’t stress too much at parties etc as this is minority of diet. Happy for kids to eat wholefoods most of the time and have occasional breakouts. I have found as their knowledge of food grows they are making great choices for themselves. My biggest hurdle? My husband buying sugary biscuits! Drives me mad! He struggles with change the most and offers them as snacks, even when the fridge is full of goodness.

    • Yep that would be tough. I’d create a ‘top shelf’ for those biscuits so the kids don’t even know they are there and have him eat them like contraband – lol. G x

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