My 3 year old DS has been having problems with recurring respiratory infections. His doctor wants to send him to an asthma specialist. After a two month long cough, he is on antibiotics and two inhalers. My husband and I really want to build up his immune system so we are drastically improving our diets, and teaching DS more about why we eat the way we do. DS seems to be on board, and is a great eater.
The problem is I feel like our food choices are offending others and making them defensive. We don't preach to them at all, and really I don't care at all what people feed their children, but our child is noticing the discrepancies in diet and HE is commenting or sharing information. He will say things like "I don't have ice cream because it makes my nose run". I think he is struggling to understand why people eat differently than we do. We will tell him that that desserts are for special occasions, that fruit is so sweet and wonderful, that we try to not eat too much sugar, and if he has too much sugar he can get sick more often or a cough. He doesn't have a problem with it, he happily eats what is in front of him.
Also, I babysit a lot and the parents I babysit for feed their children much differently than we do. So when DS asks why so and so is having flavored yogurt and he isn't, what do I say? Sometimes this happens in front of the parent and I feel it is highlighting our differences. I try to say something vague like "well everyone enjoys different food" and hope he won't bring up the fact that I tell him that too many chemicals are not good for you. I also feel a bit rude refusing the vast majority of snacks we are offered on the playground, cuz most of them are crap. And then DS is offered food at playdates at other people's homes that we don't want him to eat.... I could give in but this happens mostly on the daily so we would really lose ground in what we are trying to accomplish. People seem to having the attitude like "c'mon, one won't hurt, just this once", but this happens so often! If we try to explain why to people, they get very defensive and justify their food choices. If we say, we are trying to eliminate sugar, they say, well we are just being moderate and it is better for kids to have a treat sometimes so they don't obsess over it. But really, our son is fine without the sweets and frankly we want to shape his palate now.
If DS wasn't having these health issues perhaps I would be more chill, but I truly believe these dietary changes (no dairy, almost no sugar, very little processed food) will really help him get off the meds. I am reading "Disease Proof Your Child" by Dr. Fuhrman and am really hopeful about the possibilities.
One friend has requested that I not get into discussions about food around her daughter (a friend of DS) because she doesn't want her to have a complex about food. I would never tell someone else's child what to eat, but sometimes her little girl overhears what I am saying to DS about why we are not ordering that selection in the cafe, why he can't have this food, etc. After playgroup we frequently go to a cafe, and the little friends are noshing on bagels and cookies. I guess maybe we should not go?
I guess I am not surprised this is happening, since we are swimming so much against the tide. When I go downtown, there is no shortage of coffee shops filled with desserts. There are very few places offering healthy vegan fare in snack form for children. I prepare myself by packing snacks, but we do enjoy being out with friends.
Do you ever feel like by cleaning up your own diet you are making people defensive and uncomfortable? What do you do to curb the onslaught of offers of total crap to your child without alienating people or constantly giving in? I know this sounds horrible, but I almost wish I could say DS had a food allergy or something so people just wouldn't question me about it! Do I need to tell people DS is on a restricted diet?
How have you handled this delicate issue without being 'that person'? : )