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.
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! I’ve written more about dealing with partiesand bring a plate days at school HERE.
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.
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.