Gracefully refusing junk food? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 12:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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?
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#2 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 12:50 AM
 
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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.
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#3 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 01:37 AM
 
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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.

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#4 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 01:54 AM
 
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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"

Erin, 33, salty southern mama, sitting by the sea with my DH35, DD10, DS4, &DD2!
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#5 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 02:47 AM
 
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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!
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#6 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 04:31 AM
 
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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.
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#7 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!
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#8 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 04:00 PM
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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!"
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#9 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 04:43 PM
 
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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!
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#10 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 08:33 PM
 
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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.
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#11 of 38 Old 08-01-2004, 11:43 PM
 
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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.
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#12 of 38 Old 08-02-2004, 09:16 AM
 
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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.
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#13 of 38 Old 08-02-2004, 10:27 AM
 
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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!
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#14 of 38 Old 08-02-2004, 12:09 PM
 
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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.....

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#15 of 38 Old 08-02-2004, 04:39 PM
 
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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.
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#16 of 38 Old 08-02-2004, 11:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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...
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#17 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 12:08 AM
 
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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.

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#18 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 12:18 AM
 
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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

 

 

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#19 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 02:42 AM
 
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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?
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#20 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 02:53 AM
 
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#21 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 02:56 AM
 
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Here's a link to an FDA website on transfats

http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2003/503_fats.html

and another from the U of Maryland

http://www.umm.edu/features/tips.html

From the U of Maryland website--

"Trans fats are artificial fats made when hydrogen gas reacts with oil. They can be found in cookies, crackers, icing, potato chips, margarine and microwave popcorn.

Many manufacturers started including trans fats in their processed foods about 20 years ago to prolong their products' shelf life, but public health experts warn that these kinds of fats clog arteries and cause obesity.

Trans fats increase the risk for heart disease. Therefore, children who start at age 3 or 4 eating a steady diet of fast food, pop tarts, commercially prepared fish sticks, stick margarine, cake, candy, cookies and microwave popcorn can be expected to get heart disease earlier than kids who are eating foods without trans fats."

Basically, very unhealthy stuff and it seems like it's in everything. I have a terrible time finding tortillas without trans fats. They also show up in teething biscuits and graham crackers, lots of other things that kiddios eat.

Many healthfood stores will carry products specifically without trans fats.
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#22 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 04:43 AM
 
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DS is now 32 mos. I remember at Easter 2003 another Mom really grilling me...he hasn't ever had a hot dog? or chocolate? What does he eat? Me - um... healthy food?. As if hot dogs or chocolate were one of the food groups. We didn't attend the hunt in Easter 2004 because I can't stand the food / candy they serve.

I do want to add that I was raised organic, mostly veg, in suburbia. While I can really respect what my Mom went through for us, I have to add that as a kid, it sucked. I always felt so different and just so strange. People would offer us food and my Mom would have to deal with why we couldn't have it. Meanwhile we were desperatly trying to blend in. If we went to someone's house or b-day, we actually had to take a list of what we couldn't eat...

So, now that I'm a Mom I have to deal with the same issue. I just don't want my son growing up feeling he's some weirdo that can't participate with the rest of the world. Everything we eat at home and anything we take somewhere meets all my food standards. However, if we are at someone's house and something is offered, I'll let my son choose if he wants it or not. My thinking is that if he eats 98% good quality, that a little bit of something else is O.K. It's a balance to me. In the end, he'll have to make his own choices. I'm hoping by not making something a "forbidden fruit" that he'll learn balance too.

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#23 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 05:50 AM
 
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Hi,

first, I must say that I am not that strict. Currently we're in China, and refined flour is for example your only option. Anyway, in most cases I try to refuse. But if they really insist, I try not to give dd the impression that the food she is handed over is somehow 'off limits'. Somehow, she senses it herself . Last time she was offered a cookie. Yes, she tasted it, and yes she ate it all. But when she was given another one, she just gave it to me. End of story. Today apparently she was given some other sweets. She tasted it, and gave her best "yukkie"-face ;-) Again, end of story.

These two strategies seem to suffice for the moment...
Greetz,
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#24 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 01:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaE
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.
Actually, I wasn't offended particularly. Just trying to point out that the way food is refused makes all the difference in the world.

I think the only thing that bugged me about several of the posts was the people seemed offended that people offered to share things that they considered "unhealthy". Offering to share is such a basic form of hospitality, to be annoyed because someone dared to offer you something you didn't like seems pretty offensive. Not the refusal, but the feeling that somehow the offer was bad. I have a friend that makes healthier choices than I do, or at least put a higher priority on some aspects of healthy that I do. Even though I know she won't let her child share whatever I'm giving mine, I still always offer. Because that's good manners and I feel modelling that is more important than modelling healthy eating. So please, if you don't approve of whatever I have to share, feel free to say "not thank you". But don't get annoyed at me for offering.

Context makes a difference too. Joining someone in a restaurant or for play group in the park is one thing. Being in someone elses home is entirely another. Basic manners suggest that you (and your children) eat what the host or hostess provides. If I come to your house and you are eating something that I don't like or don't "approve" of, I still need to eat it because that is what you are serving. Ditto if you accept my hospitality. Unless, of course, there is a food allergy or other medical issue. But a long-term concern for health is different than a life-threatening allergy to peanuts.
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#25 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 01:25 PM
 
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nak
this sounds bad but i'm kinda glad dd is allergic to dairy..that cuts a lot of the pressure

we dont do sugar so if someone asks i say oh thank you but i have a lot of trouble with dd's sleep and the sugar will keep her up : it works and its totally true among other reasons though

or if its smthg really processed i just say we are not sure which allergies she may have so i'm not sure if all the ingredients are ok for her..most of the time ppl are 'impressed' that i'm so careful for dd's sake abt what she eats

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#26 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 01:57 PM
 
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With friends, strangers, etc. I just explain that we don't eat that. If they ask why - I just say that I'm trying to keep their diet as natural as possible. The excuse that - it causes kids to be a bit "wired" helps.

But, what do you do with close relatives, that you see on a daily - weekly basis?
I'm having a serious issue with my mil. she just doesn't get it. She has these crazy ideas of what healthy is. For instance, she needs to know that the kids eat, when they're with her. So what if they're not hungry - so she'll make creative things, like noodles with sugar :-( I only find that out later. Or some hungarian food - blintzes with chocolate sauce :-( and this is a lunch...

Or when we stay there on the weekend, she wants to give out homemade cake and chocolate milk for breakfast. : and I end up being the "heavy" one and I should "lighten" up...

So, what do you do?! I want my girls to be able to enjoy a close relationship with their grandma, and I don't want to be the annoying policeman. Also, my fil passed away 3 years ago and we can't sit down and talk to her about these issues, because dh claims she's too sensitive. and a bit of it won't harm them...

oops - that wasn't supposed to be so long - didn't mean to hijake your post...
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#27 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 02:18 PM
 
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I must say I am impressed that so many of you manage to keep this stuff out of your child's diet. I'm way to laid back to worry about every little thing that goes into DDs mouth. I strive for a balance. I give her mostly healthy food choices. I make most things from scratch, but I'm not going to not give her a bite of cake, when everyone else is eating it. I don't think it's fair If she wants a bite, then she can have one. Most of the problems I see w/ obesity in children are parents who do not control any of the food the child eats. I once babysat for a little girl (3 or 4) who ate nothing but cheetos and ch. milk and coke. I refused to give her coke, over juice for lunch, and the parents got mad at me. The job didn't last long I do feel that was "child abuse" in a sence b/c the little girl was never required to eat anything remotely healthy (no fruit, veggies, ect.). I love fruits and veggies! Salads are one of my favorite things. I made fruit salad 2 times a week b/f gettting PG (and I am feeling better and have stuff to cut up later this afternoon). I want my child to come to love healthy foods, but I think by making some foods forbidden, it might encourage her to 'want' them over a healthier food that actually tastes better. And for the record, does anyone actually think the processed foods taste better than homemade? No. We know that fresh, whole foods taste better and are better for us, so I just encourage that!
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#28 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 02:22 PM
 
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Elana --

We're dealing with exactly the same thing, except it's only during visits -- my ILs live in the UK and we're going for a 2 week visit later this week.

They have a completely different attitude toward food and no matter how hard we try to tell them that DD shouldn't have certain foods or some foods in moderation (they think because we let DD have an occational ice cream it must be okay), it doesn't seem to help. It's especially difficult because my MIL bakes before we come and there's always a ton of shortbread and other sweets around. We let DD have some, if MIL has made it -- I think it would be rude to refuse -- but put my foot down on candy or other desserts (prepackaged cakes or custard). I also used the "wired" excuse, esp. when it comes to chocolate.

Could you tell your MIL that your kids love her blintzes but ask if she could make them with say, strawberries instead of chocolate? Or suggest that chocolate cake be saved for dessert?

I also often feel like the heavy -- I think that's the difference between being a parent and a grandparent -- grandparents don't have to deal with the consequences of chocolate cake for breakfast but we do so if I have to be the heavy, so be it.
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#29 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 02:29 PM
 
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This is an issue in our house, too. With my close friends, we've reached a point where they will offer out of hospitality and I'll just say "no, thanks" and that will be the end of it. At this point, if I accepted their bagel bites (for lunch!), lunchables or whatever I think they'd faint away from shock! With family, it's a little stickier because I simply do not believe that fruit gels are acceptable snacks, no matter how much my mom argues that they're "10% fruit juice".

Lately we've spread the (mostly true) word that our son has a chemical sensitivity and this has seemed to help. I agree that most people respect "doctor's orders" more than "mom's orders" - shouldn't be this way, but it is and I'm more concerned about the food than fighting the battle for getting my word taken for more than some stranger's, you know? Our son is almost four and we don't watch him as closely now as we did because he has a better idea of what's every day, what's a rare treat (chips, popsicles and the like) and what's simply not allowed. He likes hot dogs now so we go with the periodic soy or white chicken dogs and that does the trick so when he has a "regular" dog he doesn't like it. He hates white bread now, as well as commercial jams and peanut butters - mom's are simply better. So it does get easier after a while and you've trained their palates.

We just returned from a week away with friends and I couldn't believe what some of my dear chums gave their kids. One day there was leftover baked chicken and broccoli so I fixed that for my son for lunch...each of the other kids had either bagel bits, taquitos or chips and queso dip. Seriously. The mind boggles.
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#30 of 38 Old 08-03-2004, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom
Actually, I wasn't offended particularly. Just trying to point out that the way food is refused makes all the difference in the world.

I think the only thing that bugged me about several of the posts was the people seemed offended that people offered to share things that they considered "unhealthy". Offering to share is such a basic form of hospitality, to be annoyed because someone dared to offer you something you didn't like seems pretty offensive. Not the refusal, but the feeling that somehow the offer was bad.
Hmm, I didn't get that from the posts, but that brings the point home - it's such a touchy subject! I think the refusal, polite or not, is an inherent judgment to some people. I am never offended by the offer. My biggest worry is offending the one who offers. My goal is to refuse as politely as possible while reflecting no judgment on the person who offered.
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