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Gracefully refusing junk food?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
First off, I am stunned at what others feed their toddlers. Dd is nearly 16 months. She has never had sugar (no cakes, candy, muffins, etc. - even on her b-day, she didn’t get cake - yes, I’m totally neurotic). She has never had refined flour of any kind - no white bread, no white crackers, no white pasta. The only grains we do are whole ( and we don’t do many grains, at that.) Needless to say, we don’t do french fries, pop, ice cream, etc. You get the idea...

However, I am noticing that other people with young toddlers DO feed their children the above things. What am I to do when I am out with these people or at their homes and they offer this food to my dd after their fill their own child’s plate?

Some situations I have been in lately:
At a restaurant, friends of ours order a hotdog meal with fries for their son (he’s 2 yrs old!) and offer half to my dd - whose meal was brought from home. My dh politely said “no thanks, she not that hungry.”
At a party, another mom offered animal crackers to dd - the situation was such that I was able to walk off under the guise of washing dd’s hands and then not return.

Anyway, the gist is that I am already feeling pressure at 16 mos. I’m afraid the day will come when I don’t have a polite response or an escape route! I don’t want to be the freak on the block and I want to remain polite and keep my friends. What do you all do? Any suggestions? One-liners?
post #2 of 38
Good question! I got the oddest look from the woman pushing ice cream samples at the store when I wouldn't take one for DD (we do let DD have ice cream but only very occationally). It was like, how could I deprive my child of ice cream.

When offered, I usually say that DD doesn't eat whatever it is -- which is mostly the truth because she wouldn't touch a hotdog or french fries.

You might always carry along a healthy snack for you DD so that others won't be tempted to offer her things you don't want her to have.

I'm interested what others have to say.
post #3 of 38
You thank them for offering , explain your dd doesn't like that and that you are trying to hold off on processed foods for as long as possible without giving any hint of judging them for what they are feeding thier child.

If people think you are a freak you just have to live with it. You can't expect people to understand all of the choices you make especially when they are so different from the majority of peoples choices. You should also be careful not to insult others people choices lest they tell you exactly what they think of yours. Everyone makes the choices that are best for thier family. with my first one I was just like you. with each child I hagve gotten more relaxed and my MIL still brings it up. I htink my choices with my first were right and I think the choices I make today are right for today.
post #4 of 38
there's someone around here that has the greatest dr suess quote in their sig, something like "the people who matter won't mind, and the people that mind don't matter"
your post made me think of that. she's your baby, and if you feel like that stuff isnt what she needs to be eating, say so. say it with me, "no thank you, we have a snack for her right here"
post #5 of 38
I usually say "no thank you" and leave it at that.
Sometimes if pressed I'll say "I am trying to encourage him to eat healthy food, since he has a history of not eating much of any food at all... once he gets a big appetite for healthy food, then maybe he'll get to try some candy"
I've also said "no thank you, he might choke on that" (hard candy)
or "no thank you; I try not to give him sugar"
or "no thank you; he is allergic to chocolate: it will keep him awake all night long"
or "no thank you; he is milk intolerant so can't eat ice cream"
or "no thank you; he doesn't like to eat chicken" (when offered KFC)

I even have to explain it to my own ds now! I tell him that ice cream will give him a tummy ache.

I've actually had people express that they are impressed that I am trying so hard to keep him on a healthy diet.

P.S. one great thing about living in a city is that there are fruit carts everywhere. granted they aren't organic, but my ds begs for plums or grapes or cherries or bananas or whatever when he sees the carts!
post #6 of 38
I've had a lot of mileage out of the carbohydrates & sugar causing excema line. dd#2 can get a bit of excema on her cheeks if she has sugar or too many carbs. Ppl seem to understand a "disease" excuse better than a plain "no we don't" as it confers less judgement on what they feed their kids. I am finding tho' that I am having to avoid some places like playgroups now as it seems ppl not only feed their kids junk, but let them drop it on the floor without trying to clean it up. As my little dd is very good at crawling & really wants to crawl & investigate the contents of the floor every time we stop moving, it has turned into a nightmare to deal with.

Another good one is she hates having her teeth brushed & makes it very difficult so we try to limit her sugar/carb intake after breakfast.

To be honest, hydrogenated fats is my main fear. So few ppl know about them or even understand why they are so dangerous.
post #7 of 38
Thread Starter 
OceanMama, ITA about the hydrogenated fats - funny, I nearly put that in my post but then I figured people would assume we strictly avoid those too! Dd has never had even a bite of anything with trans fats - another reason we avoid those awful pre-packaged toddler cookies and crackers. Yuck!

I know I can just say "no, thank you." Honestly, my main fear is others thinking I am judging them. Although I feel the diet choices (and other choices) I make for my dd are the right ones (why else would I make them?), who am I to tell others what to do with their children? It's not my business and not my place, and after all - I HATE being told what to do with my dd.

Thanks for the replies though - I'm always curious how other mamas livin' on the fringe handle the pressures from the mainstream!
post #8 of 38
Good suggestions so far. My mother is the worst about offering juice, candy and snacks. She gives my 1 yr/old niece Coke and ice cream and practically force it on her. Ugh. What has worked for me at snack/meal time is this:

"She has been snacking all morning/afternoon! The next thing she needs to put in her mouth is a vegetable!"
post #9 of 38
I usually say that we do not give Dd refined sugars or flours until we can brush her teeth as thoroughly as we would like to. It's such a battle brushing her teeth, so this is an honest answer. I guess some day, once she's brushing and flossing, we will have to loosen up!
post #10 of 38
I don't really care what others think. It's my decision what I feed my dd. If people feel defensive because of my choices for my dd then that's their problem I think.

I do allow her a bite of those god awful supermarket birthday cakes after I carefully remove every bit of icing. I figure a bite of cake won't hurt and she won't eat it anyhow. She'd rather eat fruit

I find a lot of people are very unaware of hydrogenated fats. My MIL put animal crackers in dd's easter eggs for the easter egg hunt. I just took them off her, she was more interested in the hunting than the eating anyhow. And I later said to MIL that I buy the ones without hydrogenated fats. She was actually surprised that baby crackers had that bad fat in them.
post #11 of 38
We have the same problem around here--we live in the inner city, where it seems like people live on junk food. We eat similarly to mama e, maybe a little more laid back. The neighbor kids are constantly handing dd snacks through the fence. They are sweet kids, but I have to run and grab the snacks before they make it to dd's mouth. Likewise, my husband's students, who are around 5 days/wk, are always trying to give her stuff. This week it has been doritos, cheetos, funyuns, hard candy, ice cream sandwich, and more. When I say no, people sometimes ignore me, despite my excuses. (Isn't hungry, doesn't eat salt, sugar...) She has ended up eating a cheeto, part of a funyun. I was just sick about it, but the damage had been done.

So I have a new tactic. Since no one around here seems to understand nutrition, I've started telling everyone that dd is on a special diet because she has lead poisoning. (she's only a little elevated.) I say that if she eats those foods, she could end up with brain damage. Please don't feed her ANYTHING This tactic is helping a lot. Only one girl still doesn't seem to get it. She thinks it's really sad and keeps asking when dd will be able to eat candy. As if! She's 14 months!

BTW, at the park the other day, dd ran up to a little boy who was eating a popsicle. His mother grabbed his half-eaten popsicle and stuck it in dd's mouth. I mean...I couldn't believe it! Aside from regular germ concerns, there is pertussis going around here right now, and I think dd just had it. Are people crazy?

Sorry to ramble--you struck a nerve.
post #12 of 38
I've been wondering the same thing. I find it bewildering. At playgroups, I feel like such an elitist when I merely say 'oh, he can't have cookies right now". People get so offended. Everyone seems to say, "can he have a cookie?". I finally caved about a month ago and started allowing him cookies (no transfats, mostly whole wheat) because I was so sick of everyone asking me! I've had people try to give my 14 month old lollipops and hard candies! I think AdrianneWe had some great suggestions for comments. I don't have a problem saying "no" to strangers. I get annoyed though when friends and in-laws seem to think I'm some sort of hyper-freak because I want my son to have a healthy nutritional foundation. I'm having a major problem with my in-laws. My SIL's children (who are perfect in my MIL's eyes) are given pop and chips etc. (they are age 2 and 5). The grandparents (my ILs) will hand the 2 year old a bowl of potato chips! My husband and I were visitng and my son grabbed someone's sippy cup - filled with Pepsi! I started yelling out loud. I was FURIOUS! I couldn't contain my frustration. I just walked into the kitchen and said to my ILs - that my DS is not to be given pop under any circumstance. There is no reason to be serving infants and toddlers pop and chips. I was raging. Putting Pepsi in a sippy cup? That's gross. I have said this 1000x times to my ILs and explained to them the dangers of trans fats etc. etc. They nod in agreement and then later offer my son a piece of cake made from mix with icing from a can. Honestly!

I'm thinking Kim's comment will work well in the above situation. I get so annoyed because I feel like we're in the right and yet somehow so many people act like you're some sort of freak! I eat a healthy diet about 80-90% of the time but I do enjoy chocolate and home-made desserts. My own family is very very nutritious and fitness conscious and we were given dessert at home so I am trying to relax. I think, like OceanMomma said, the main culprit in my mind is transfats and processed foods. At least, those are my major no-nos right now. I"m just trying to relax and pick my battles. I think the thing is not to worry so much about offending people if you are trying to do what you think is right for your child. What I find really difficult is trying to give my son the right messages while DH is stuffing a Pop-tart in his mouth. I tell DH to hide his junk food, at least.
post #13 of 38
ITA with the idea of using a "medical" excuse. We've done it a bit with food (mostly out of necessity- my aunt tried to give dd LOBSTER at a recent BBQ!!! : ) & other things too My MIL is a stuffed animal LOON & when dd was 1 month old, she brought her a 3 foot tall bunny!!!! are you kidding??? we told her the dr. doesn't want her to have stuffed animals b/c of our family history of allergies. It worked!

i find i have more problems with friends & family than strangers/acquaintences. maybe b/c it's easier to brush off those i'm not as close to. I'm more moderate on food for dd- mostly avoid the transfats & refined sugars. but then again, i'm working on it for me too!
post #14 of 38
I feel for you. I also find it very difficult and was just thinking about this the other day when talking to a friend. We are planning a trip away in a few weeks with a bunch of friends and their children. We were talking about how the children are getting easier as we don't have to worry about packing all their food anymore. I said "Yah...as long as I bring a few staples that I know ds will eat we should be fine". She replied with "I know.....I'll just have to bring some Kraft Dinner, Alphagetti and fish sticks". Blech!! Did I mention our children are the same age......21 months? I was thinking more like ww pasta, brown rice with black beans and brocolli, etc... I am not perfect by any means but we try really hard and ds gets very little sugar and we really watch the trans fat. I don't buy anything that has trans fat but I get caught sometimes if I don't read the label and am not expecting trans fats as part of the ingredients (that's a whole other vent).

I don't have any good advice but I typically just say "no thanks, I have something for him". We follow a vegetarian diet so that throws our friends for a loop too. My biggest worry is spending 2 days with all these people and my ds grabbing for their food and then me saying no. I wish my ds didn't show any interest in it but he does - sigh.....
post #15 of 38
I think you can always so "no thank you" in a polite way and the other people won't feel judged. Frankly, I let my kids eat virtually all of the things that seem to apall you. If you were visiting us, I would ask can X have Y? If you said "no thank you", that would be OK. If, however, you said "Oh no, we NEVER give X that sort of thing/sugar/flour/non-organic whatever..." or something in that vein, then yes, I would feel judged and probably wouldn't invite you again. If you act offended by my hospitality or if you know more than I do, then I'm going to react accordingly. If you act as if you have simply made different (not better, just different) choices for you and your children, then I can respect that.
post #16 of 38
Thread Starter 
Evan&Anna'sMom,

I came here precisely to learn how NOT to offend people like you. So sorry if I did! As I said in my second post, I would never presume to make choices for others - not my place, not my business.

I also admitted up front that I'm totally neurotic (at least when it comes to dds diet - I'm not quite so careful with my own). I know the day will come when I loosen up a bit with dd, but at 16 mos, I am still holding strong - while she can't ask for the stuff, I figure I'll take advantage of it. Give me time...
post #17 of 38
Oh yes I am the "mean"mommy who wont let her daughter have chocolate or cheese puffs. I am not even nearly as good as most of you b/c I just wasn't eduacted about so much as far as feeding children. I know now but some things are too late to fix.
A friend who has a DD a few months older than mine is very dillignet about organic and very wholesome fod so when they visit I always ask. "Can Chloe have....? If the answer is no I usually commend her effort b/c I am jealous of her knowledge of such things.
post #18 of 38
In the past we just said, "No thanks" or "DD doesn't like -blank-" I also made sure to have TONS of snacks. So, DD could share with others (most kids will take fruit readily) and they could do the little sit down picnic thing.

Now DD makes mostly her own choices when out and about. DS has had more slack from the beginning, 'cause I'm tired and DD is around
post #19 of 38


Please tell me about transfats and hydrogenated foodstuffs!

What are they in, what are made of, why are they bad for you and what names do they fall under on labels?

I mean, I've heard that they are bad, but never really knew the details, kwim?
post #20 of 38
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