Unschooling and food issues... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 01-02-2013, 05:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am currently pregnant with my first baby and my hubby and I have always known we would be unschoolers. It just makes sense. We have talked through how we will handle the questions from our large religious homeschooling famillies but what we can't figure out is how to handle the food. We are vegans for health reasons(but the ethical reasons are an awesome bonus!) do we allow our kids to try meat. I assume we will have lots of conversations about food production, animal rights and the like but what if they still want to eat meat? Also just a general food questi, but do you let your kids have free-range of what they want for breakfast, lunch and dinner or do you schedule it and what they get is what they get? I have heard of unschoolers who give their kids a share of the food budget and let them spend it how they want on food. Do any of you do that?
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#2 of 10 Old 01-02-2013, 07:57 AM
 
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We've ended up doing a lot of short-order cooking in this house, but that was due more to competing allergies than unschooling.  We do not have set times to eat, and the only time I say no to something that I know is going to fill them up is shortly before dinner is done, and I know they like it.  I do limit intense sweets, like brownies and chocolate chips and peppermints, but we negotiate.  Recently I started giving them some spending money for their expensive snacks and treats that they have to budget each week.

 

We are not the "unschooliest" family outside of education, though I try.

 

We are not vegan, but our diet is mostly organic and I like to keep it that way.  The food that's out their quite frankly scares me.  So, I wouldn't be too thrilled if they started wanting to buy "conventionally" grown food more than just on occasion.  They do know I prefer organic, and they get excited when they find something snacky and good that we both approve of.  I am also conscientious about where my meat comes from, and we talk about that as well.


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#3 of 10 Old 01-02-2013, 10:04 AM
 
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I think this is one of those things that as you live your life with kids as a family, the path shows itself.

 

Issues of personality, preference, internalization of family practices and values, discussions, allergies, availability, time-management, organization, interest and such will create situations unique to you and your family. If you are guided by a philosophical belief in the importance of honoring your child's perspective, you'll find paths that wil make sense for you. It's not something you can really plan. You just start out on a path and adjust as needed. 

 

We are a mostly organic family and most of us have been vegetarian for the past 15 years or so. The practicalities have varied a lot as the kids have grown up. 

 

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#4 of 10 Old 01-04-2013, 08:05 PM
 
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Another thing to consider: your children may have issues that prevent them from eating vegan/vegetarian.  I'll use my children as an example.  My youngest (third child) has severe, extreme, intense food allergies/sensitivities/intolerances.  My older two tolerate far more than he does.  I do not bring into the house and/or allow my older two to eat foods that are very likely to harm the younger one.  Actually, I have allowed them to eat one or two things that the youngest can't & it's torture for me & that child making sure they don't drop any of the food on the table, chair, floor...that they wash their hands immediately afterwards to prevent cc...etc.  It's not worth it.  My children could not be vegetarians/vegans because grains/legumes/etc. are often cross contaminated w/ gluten and/or corn.  Trying to find safe vegetables is a challenge!  If one of us was a vegan/vegetarian then we'd be bringing stuff into the house that could hurt the youngest.  I spend a great deal of time sourcing & getting safe food.  I would be unwilling to attempt to find foods that would be safe for ds2 to be around if someone were a vegan/vegetarian (because well, I do need to sleep some times).

 

For some RU people, this makes us not unschoolers.  So be it.  I won't jeopardize the littlest one so someone else can have a food.  

 

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#5 of 10 Old 01-04-2013, 11:20 PM
 
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I have known some unschoolers who were vegetarian and/or vegan, and their kids were too. I don't know how much of it was choice or not, though. I have met three people who were brought up vegetarian who said that they could not eat meat without it making them very ill -- and one of them seemed to resent it (and had a lot of food issues and was in Weight Watchers, etc.). I don't know if this is because the gut flora is so different or what. And I would also agree that it could turn out that your child is allergic to to many things to be a vegan, since I myself am sensitive to wheat, soy, corn, and apparently all nuts and peanuts too (although I am also allergic or sensitive to fish/shellfish, beef, and eggs too so paleo is kind of out of the question too).  What is too bad is that it took many years of being ill before I figured out my sensitivities (my mother did not believe food allergies were real).

As far as whether to limit time and amount of food, we do not do so at all, but I have friends who have had to because their kids were sensory seekers and would literally stuff themselves and eat everything in the house just seeking the sensations of taste, texture, etc. (which some radical unschoolers might say was caused by limiting the foods, but I don't think so -- it's a medical condition).


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#6 of 10 Old 01-05-2013, 05:49 AM
 
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I raised DS vegan for his first 3 years. Then *I* started eating meat for health reasons and he also chose to start eating meat. Both of us are on a GF diet so I think he really wanted more options. Plus he's a foodie, he loves trying new things... I'm not about to squash that! When we started eating animal products, it was very important to me to make sure he understood what he was eating. We didn't mince words, we told him beef is a dead cow, chicken is a dead chicken, etc. and he's been to a dairy farm, a beef farm, etc.

I will say that I think being entirely vegan for his first few years gave him an extra appreciation & enjoyment of veggies and other healthy vegan foods. He is definitely the kind of kid who could easily have gotten sucked into eating only mac & cheese and ice cream. And I was very strict about ONLY vegan foods when he was little, but he was also too young to make (or even want to make) most of these choices himself yet. Now he's almost 4yo and does appreciate having a lot more freedom around food choices.

As far as free-ranging on food... Well DS does know how to get himself a snack of course. And he's allowed to do that whenever he wants, but I limit sweets some -- the basic rule is he can't have chocolate after dark, and he can't eat ONLY sweets and no real food, so I sometimes discourage him from eating sweets yet again. I'm still trying to figure out how to handle his sweet tooth! Other than that... sometimes he has a piece of chocolate before breakfast... sometimes he has sweets all day, but sometimes none at all. His go-to snacks are usually fruits or crackers with hummus and these are the things he tends to choose first. He's a really good eater in general so I don't really worry about what's going into his mouth at any given time. But meals aren't really free-range. I have to cook them, and I'm not cooking a separate meal for each person. Dinner is almost always a sit-down meal and he gets whatever I've made. Lunch often goes the same way, but sometimes I take requests if it's just the 2 of us, and same with breakfast. I am glad to take his input into consideration when making each meal but I am not a short-order cook. I don't require him to eat any meal though (but he almost always chooses to have some).

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#7 of 10 Old 01-05-2013, 01:19 PM
 
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Things have a way of unfolding in a way that feels right if you approach it with intention as you are obviously doing since your LO has not yet entered the "real world." When I was preggo with DS I had ideals about EVERYTHING, but I tried to never say never and I am SO glad about that bc a lot of things have just kind of evolved. In particular to eating I wanted DS to remain vegetarian and not have any white sugar, even though DH and I do eat meat and occasionally sugar. This lasted until DH was one years old and then started screaming at me and yanking meat off of my plate and clearly developing preferences for the foods HE WANTED, and his little body probably needed yummy.gif I think my reasoning for no meat was a health issue in the be genning and then became more of a philosophy..I wanted him to understand where meat came from and not be totally mortified pr pissed off at his Mom and Dad for letting him "eat the soul of a baby animal" or whatever he may grow up to believe.

 

So for now he eats meat if he wants it and we are eating it, but as he gets older and can better understand what it is he is eating I would totally support his choice to not eat animals and would cook accordingly for him and maybe the whole family would just go in that direction! Happy pregnancy to you!


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#8 of 10 Old 01-05-2013, 08:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookietooth View Post

I have met three people who were brought up vegetarian who said that they could not eat meat without it making them very ill -- and one of them seemed to resent it (and had a lot of food issues and was in Weight Watchers, etc.). I don't know if this is because the gut flora is so different or what. 

OT: 

I'm on a yahoo group that is about healing the gut through food.  There are a number of former vegetarians/vegans on it.  They said that they had to go very small & slow when reintroducing meat.  Like a 1/2 teaspoon to start w/ small.  Maybe that's what's needed for those people?  My understanding is that when we don't eat a certain food, our bodies don't make the enzymes necessary to aid in digesting of that food.  So, I don't think it is so much to do w/ gut flora as it is lack of enzymes.  I could be wrong though. winky.gif

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookietooth View Post

As far as whether to limit time and amount of food, we do not do so at all, but I have friends who have had to because their kids were sensory seekers and would literally stuff themselves and eat everything in the house just seeking the sensations of taste, texture, etc. (which some radical unschoolers might say was caused by limiting the foods, but I don't think so -- it's a medical condition).

I can't think of a single discussion by RU's relating to food & food issues that was not based on reacting to the issue vs. being proactive w/ the issue.  An example: I once read about an RU child who only consumed one food for three whole months.  Instead of trying to figure out why this was happening, the adult was continually trying to get the child to take vitamins.  I suppose that for RU families who have children with food issues that are dealt w/ in the way I've described, it eventually works out.  I will never be a part of that club though because I'm not willing to wait it out & hope for the best, which I'm okay w/! biggrinbounce.gif I like to know why things are happening, if I can figure it out. 

 

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#9 of 10 Old 01-06-2013, 08:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mama24-7 View Post

OT: 
I'm on a yahoo group that is about healing the gut through food.  There are a number of former vegetarians/vegans on it.  They said that they had to go very small & slow when reintroducing meat.  Like a 1/2 teaspoon to start w/ small.  Maybe that's what's needed for those people?  My understanding is that when we don't eat a certain food, our bodies don't make the enzymes necessary to aid in digesting of that food.  So, I don't think it is so much to do w/ gut flora as it is lack of enzymes.  I could be wrong though. winky.gif

I'm not sure about this, I was vegetarian for 17 years (vegan for the last 10) and when I started eating meat again I had absolutely no issues digesting it. And DS had no animal products in his entire life and also was able to digest it just fine when he started eating meat. It's ironic because we both do have gut issues etc. but meat was never a problem for us. Although at the same time I think we both needed meat for medical/health reasons so maybe we have a different situation.

Interesting, I guess we are getting OT but it's something I'd like to look into more, just to know/understand...

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#10 of 10 Old 02-22-2013, 06:56 PM
 
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I think you start off feeding your family as you do and go from there.  As your baby will be used to the food you consume, from living inside your womb, chances are he/she will enjoy the things you enjoy, at least to some degree.  Eventually, your child will experience the fact that others in the world eat meat and you will explain why you and your partner don't.  Your child might ask to eat meat one day and at that point, you will respect your child's interest and facilitate their curiosity.  Start slow.  Perhaps your child will take one taste and hate it.  Perhaps your child will find the idea repulsive (eating animals) and won't want to do it again.  Chances are that your family values will remain the most important values in the child's frame of mind, and even if the child eats meat for a while, chances are pretty good that the child will consider being vegetarian/vegan again.  

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