DH wants to feed DD garbage
You know what's best for her... however there is something awesome about the trash we get every once in awhile. My grandpa used to take me places with him and we'd sneak twinkies and sprite. Things I wasn't allowed to have. Of course it's not cool to undermine but I swear those memories were awesome. Dh and I argued a lot about food with the girls and now he's more restrictive than I am. I don't preach at him but he eventually saw a huge difference in behavior with the girls when they had trash food and when they had food that was honestly good for them. You better believe he won't give out donuts for breakfast anymore but on the days he has them all to himself he still does a little splurging. And he is their parent too.
If possible, I would try to reach an agreement about how often your husband can feed her something completely, utterly naughty. For example, on Saturday afternoons, he can take her for 1 hour and cram her full of poprocks and soda.
To my eyes, it seems more like a control issue than anything else... you seem to be in charge of the food, and he seems to have a problem with that. Maybe if you let him have his way with "his daughter"'s menu he'll relax a little, and you won't have to deal with eyes rolling every time you pass up on florescent cheese products.
Or maybe the poor dear will throw up on him after he over-stuffs her with crap, and he'll learn his lesson.
I'm really not wishing sickness on your sweetie. You said she'll say "No." to a treat, and I'm hoping she'll turn him down without you there to take the blame for the "fun-spoiling".
My parents had a similar dynamic while I grew up. My mother was constantly feeding us foods she deemed healthy. My father was constantly sneaking us junk. It taught us that junk is better, if we can get it we should eat as much as possible, and Mommy and Daddy are completely nuts and can't even figure out what to feed us as a pair.
I really encourage you to work it out with hubby. You can do it! Bribe him with Skittles and Mountain Dew.
Edited to say/ I re-re-read your original post, OP, and I see you already know it's a control issue. I think your husband is wanting to share "happy childhood food" with your darling... and she can and does say "No." when she doesn't want a treat. I don't recommend feeding garbage, but I think once a week, or even once a month, he won't hardly get anything in her!
Now, if she ate everything offered, that'd be different.
Edited by MrsGregory - 4/5/12 at 1:02pm
YOU ARE RIGHT! Ok, that said, of course you have to actually deal with this issue so the two of you can get along. Could you visit a nutritionist together? His worry about the need for calories is almost certainly coming from a place of love and concern, right? If that's the case it seems fair to me for you to find a way to allay his fears, and a nutritionist will be able to tell you that what you're doing is good or, if by some chance they do need more calories, he or she can tell you how to get more into them without feeding them a flipping Twinkie.
After you guys have sorted out the emotion and the fighting that has sprung up about this issue, THEN maybe you could agree that he gets to occasionally (once a month or whatever you're comfortable with) take them out for pure junk. Like Imakcerka said, junk food can be a special experience for some and if your husband REALLY feels like they MUST have that experience, maybe you can find a compromise (make no mistake, I would have a huge problem letting my DH do that so I know that is way easier said than done). No matter what, he should not be undermining you in the grocery aisle for goodness' sake.
I really hope this helps--I know how frustrating it is when you're mad at your spouse and you want to be right, but you also just don't want to be fighting. Good luck!
It kind of depends on your DH and the type of person he is. I can tell you what worked for me, but it honestly took a lot of time and educating, and by a lot, I mean years.
The first thing to do is set standards. Rather than labeling everything in a package "junk", set standards. For us these standards include: no trans fats (partially hydrogenated anything), no HFCS, no soy (I do allow lecithin, but that's the only byproduct), corn has to be organic (or non-GMO).
Once you've set standards, it's much easier to say to him (and your kids), "let's read the ingredient list". Now, the above standards severely limit what is acceptable food in our house. But something like Mac & Cheese can still make the cut - I don't do Kraft, but I do buy Annie's. I just limit it to once a week or less. That allows you to educate everybody on the detrimental effects of those exact ingredients, without making them all feel like you're being the food-Nazi just because you can. It doesn't curtail the discussion of "that's not the healthiest choice we could make", but it may help mitigate some of the feelings your DH is having of "everything is forbidden", and perhaps some of his feeling of being judged by you for the foods he likes. Because you can look at that bottle of pink lemonade and say "oh, that one has HFCS in it, and we don't eat that - let's see if we can find one that doesn't have HFCS in it".
After 10 years of living with me, I've managed to get my DH to the point where he doesn't even question these things any more. And when we met he was eating Kraft Dinner and HFCS soda every day. He understands the why, he understands the reasoning, and he supports me in trying to make better choices for myself AND my family (now that we have one).
And honestly, if he's going to be a pain, I'd stop taking him to the grocery store. Possibly easier said than done, but grocery shopping is my private alone time now. I leave the toddler home with daddy and go do all the shopping on Saturday morning. He gets to make special requests, but ultimately I'm the one making the choices for what food comes into the house.
We have kind of a similar dynamic. DH is a junk food junkie. He has a mountain-sized sweet tooth and the elevated blood sugar to go with it. I'm not particularly a dessert fiend (though I'll eat it if you put it in front of me) and overall prefer healthier food. DH is always trying to give DD1 junk food because he thinks she'll like it, I guess. Luckily she doesn't like it particularly much, or at least doesn't seem to care at all after the first bite or two.
I have decided not to fight this battle because DD is basically doing it for me. I feel that making a big deal out of 'forbidden foods' is only going to have the backlash effect that I don't want of making them seem really exciting and tantalizing, rather than no-big-deal as they are now. I do talk about the negative effects of some of the foods he buys, but I don't actively prevent him from buying them or from trying to feed them to DD (since she'll only take a couple of bites anyway - if she were a sugar hound like he is I'd probably need a different approach). It probably helps that our local store is Trader Joe's which doesn't tend to be too bad on the fake-food items; other than that we buy at the farmer's market or (occasionally) Whole Foods. I don't think I've seen a box of Kraft mac 'n cheese in a long time.
I do agree with the 'bad ingredients' approach cristeen suggested, I think some of the issues with HFCS and food coloring are actually starting to sink in for DH. And if you talk about the individual ingredients then it's easier to explain what the concern is for each item, rather than just laying down the law by labeling it all 'junk.'
We have different food issues with our son, my DH pushes a huge amount of good quality food because he thinks DS isn't eating enough while I support letting DS eat whatever amount he wants, which is always less than DH's idea of an appropriate amount of food.
Concerning the lemonade and mac and cheese - what if you would spin your DH's desires into an activity for DH and your 3 yo to do together? Along the lines of "lemonade is a great idea, lets grab a bag of lemons and you and DC can make it together, we already have sugar at home, she will love squeezing out the juice......." Same with the mac and cheese, turn the preparation into fun time for the two of them. Don't even bring your opinion of his choices into the conversation, present an alternative in a way that lets him make the "right" decision by choicing to make lemonade with his DC versus the quick route of instant.
Maybe you and he can sit down and talk about what your different ideas of "moderation" would look like? For us, it was a lot easier to strike a compromise that we both "bought in" to - you know? I would have thses ideas I thought were great compormises, but because I had never really listened to DPs reasons, or respected them ("ew it's just junk and sugar") my compromises were rejected. When I really listened to his reasons, and asked for his help in finding a compromise ("This isn't working. I don't want to be the bad cop. I want to respect your choices and have you respect mine.") we were able to come up with compromises that suited us both.
I'm going to talk about my path to feeling balanced in our household. I hope you don't take it as I think you are controlling, OP, because you sound reasonable to me. But I said somethings that you said and we had a similar dynamic with DD's father, and I did not like it. So I've been learning and I want to share. I stopped dancing my steps in the dance of mom the gatekeeper and dad the treat giver, and we did see changes. Some stuff I just had to make peace with. I did decide that I could feel satisfied that I was doing my job right if 80% of the time, 80% of the food was 80% healthy. You know? I have the tendency to go to extremes with things, and have you ever heard that saying, "The perfect is the enemy of the good"? Story of my life. So anyhow.... :)
It turns out that hearing me say stuff like, "that's not food" all the time, about things that he ate alot growing up (Kraft!), hurt his feelings, even though he knew that it wasn't really healthy stuff. I made an effort to stop picking on his food choices for himself. I no longer have anything to say about the fact that he likes to get McDonalds on his lunch break, or that he drinks giant cans of enery drink on the weekends. It wasn't my place anyhow, and it wasn't my business. I thought I was being wry, but I was just fueling the fire.
It also turns out that when I decided that once a week, we would have a "junk food meal" where I cooked something that I thought wasn't really the best food, but which he thought tasted great (and bonus, convenient), he was more excited about eating the "healthy" meals I planned too. And I found myself looking forward to junk night, and ended up making better food choices for myself because I wasn't holding myself to too high a standard during the week. So we have chicken nugget and mac and cheese night, or we have "spaghetti pizza" or we have hotdogs or fried balogna sandwiches, etc. I also learned about meals that DP enjoyed which were healthy but never occurred to me because I didn't grow up eating them. He likes a lot of greek food, for instance, which is pretty darn healthy. And Polish food too, which is still food, even though it's all potatoes and cold cuts.
It also turned out that I had never heard him when he said that he liked eating fresh, raw vegetables. He would complain about the vegetables, and I would be like, why don't you like veggies?? Well, I always made them the way I grew up eating them, and he didn't like eating them that way. So I switched to doing it both ways. One meal, we have tons of fresh raw veggies (which have somewhat of a textural issue for me, but I sucked it up and learned to like them) and the next we would eat them southern style with lots of butter and cooked to mush. Or fermented. So now we eat lots of veggies.
As far as sugar goes, I make homemade treats with DD sometimes. I don't say anything when he takes her to Chuckie Cheese and gives her a sugar cloud. On easter morning, instead of complaining about everyone giving her candy, I took a nap. :) But, since I stopped worrying for him about her sugar intake, he has more concern.
I've made my peace with the fact that her health will probably never be perfect. Mine isn't. I have a gluten intolerance that I wasn't aware of until I had her, and I've always been scrawny. I have allergies. Etc. But I do the best with what I have, and I believe she will too. I have observed her to have a very good sense of her body. She is gluten intolerant and I have never, since we switched to eating gf, ever had a problem with her eating somethign that is gluteny. She seems to instinctively know that it will make her feel bad.
She and I also talk about how food has different purposes. The best food is food that nourishes your body and makes your belly feel good, nourishes your heart (because it was prepared with love or because you eat it with people you love), and tastes good in your mouth. Sometimes food is nourishing to your body, but doesn't taste that great. Sometimes it was made with love, but tastes bad. Sometimes, something was prepared with love, and it tastes good, but it doens't necessarily nourish your body. Sometimes, something just tastes good, but there's no love in it, and no nutrition. That's a thing that can be nice to eat a little of, but is not food.
This is all I can do as her mother - is talk to her, model good habits, be a person who gives her space to listen to her body, and be at peace in our household with her father.
Last night DP made dinner because I was sick. He unvented a "lazy cordon bleu" - gf nuggets, swiss, peas, leftover easter ham, and blue cheese. DP actually was abashed that "it wasn't food" and I teased him... "Cheese, peas, cheese, ham.... nuggets are almost food!" It was delicious, by the way, and had enough food in it for me. :) And it was made with love. DD, who normally loves nuggets, ate only peas. Three big bowls of peas.
I hope you can find what the right thing for you is, OP!
Edited by cyclamen - 4/10/12 at 12:49pm