Facing Off Against the Food Police

  1. Jan Hoadley says:

    It’s amazing we survived with the not food or lack of food that was in the cupboards and fridge and freezer growing up. Surely I should have starved to death by 12 because I was a picky eater. OK maybe still am. lol but not as much as then. And yet 40 years later I’m fine. Odd how that happens if it’s all “poison” isn’t it? Well done here!

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      I keep thinking the same thing- We have so many healthier options at the grocery now for kids than we did when I was small. The real culprit behind childhood obesity, I think, is the lack of physical activity among children (and the fixation on video games/iPads) and the over-reliance on fast food/quick meals in families. Fix those two things and you’ve fixed a lot of the problem. I also see a lot of parents out there, though, that are struggling just to keep it together financially, and then these issues necessarily fall to the bottom of the list. It’s rough. We need to stop judging each other.

      • fifewolf says:

        I also think it’s worth trying new things. I can’t always get my kids (2.5&4.5) to always eat plain vegetables but for some reason they both love homemade minestrone soup which is only vegetables. I also try not to make different meals for kids and grown ups. I think it’s a slippery slope. I usually make a family dinner where I know they’ll eat some of it. I offer them everything but if they don’t love it I don’t go running to make them mac and cheese. I did for a while but it drove me crazy. So they kind of get what they are offered and if they don’t eat a lot we all survive. I’ve also learned that there’s a magic window for both of them where it’s early enough that they aren’t tired and cranky, but late enough to eat dinner and if they have no afternoon snacks they are much better eaters. If you can cut out afternoon snacks dinner looks better to everyone. I know easier said than done but if they had a bowl of popcorn or an apple an hour before dinner – it works against you. Good luck and good on you for being honest!

  2. Melissa says:

    Dude, we can’t get our three year old to touch a vegetable to save our lives. We’ve resorted to sneaking, even amid criticism that we shouldn’t sneak veggies into their food. We should just “put it in front of them”. Ha! Anyone who says that clearly has not endured a dinnertime battle with my son. But you know what I’ve realized? He’s three. THREE. He likes macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets and pizza and fries and ice cream! Because he’s THREE! Looking back on those battles I can see that our expectations were way too high. He’s just a little guy. We can’t expect him to think or behave like an adult. So we do our best with foods we know he’ll eat and go from there.

    And yes, we do treats and we eat fast food sometimes. GASP.

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      When my kids were very small, I told the pediatrician that neither one of them would eat vegetables and I was worried about it. “Are you giving them a daily vitamin?” she asked. “Yes.” “Then you should stop worrying so much,” she said, shrugging. “Most kids their age don’t like vegetables.” That made me feel so much better- and I wondered why moms weren’t admitting this REALITY to each other, because the only moms I heard from were the ones whose kids LOVED vegetables. And I felt guilty that my kids weren’t the same way. *sigh*

      • Melissa says:

        I loved vegetables when I was a kid (if we went to a restaurant with a salad bar I was THERE) but even then I knew I was an anomaly.

        We give our kids a green nutrition supplement in addition to their multivitamin. It’s not the same as actually eating fruits and veggies, but hey, it’s SOMETHING while we get through this phase.

      • Ashley Decker says:

        I think there is something also to be said that at the 2-5 age range (sometimes older) kids really don’t have a lot of say in their lives. By refusing to eat some foods, they are in some ways testing out their own voice. I didn’t realize that at first but came to understand it when my daughter would flip flop by the month sometimes detesting broccoli/cauliflower, sometimes asking for it for dinner and eating big handfuls of it straight out of the fridge for snacks. I figured out sometimes she was refusing the broccoli just to has something to refuse and say no and feel out what the is like. Now I just try to worry less. Give vitamins and I keep putting in front of them. I also let them have more choice in the veg – giving a variety of options and letting them pick what goes in their pasta or on the plate. Then at least I can try to hold them to their choices 😉

  3. quiltbabe8 says:

    A dear friend has three little girls, who eat the most incredible things. But they do so because mom and dad do, and they dearly love to be like their parents. They are asked to try new things at least once, but if they don’t like it, they don’t have to finish it. (they do, however, have to wait until the next snack or meal time to eat again, though – which is probably cruel and unusual punishment, LOL). They actually *like* – and beg for – brussel sprouts.

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      We do have the kids try at least a bite of everything, and I’m glad to see that my nine-year-old, who was the picky eater of the family, is now starting to want to have more of what we’re having. I know a lot of families insist on having the same meal for everyone, but Dennis and I are really trying to stick with lean meats and vegetables right now and I don’t think that’s entirely fair to the kids. 🙂 It’s definitely a balancing act, but I think it’s personal for each mom and I’m tired of getting judged by outsiders.

  4. Denise says:

    My daughter was eating a ham and cheese sandwich at school and was bullied by another girl (a vegetarian). The food police are not only parents now days. They teach their kids the same crap. I had to get the asst. principal involved in the situation. And, I send my kids treats all the time in their lunches: left over birthday cake, candy corn, oreos, etc. THEY ARE KIDS! Like you say in the article, they learn to eat more healthy and by watching their parents!

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      Bullying over THAT?! So obnoxious. Just based on my experiences doing this all once before, I feel like my children will benefit more having access to all the foods they’ll have access to as adults- and learning how to enjoy them in very small, sparing amounts, as treats. I worry that if I deny all those things now, they’ll just want to gorge on them down the road. But I also think to each mom her own- We can’t help judging each other in our own heads sometimes, but there’s something to be said for keeping quiet about it! 🙂

      • Denise says:

        She had to deal with the girl constantly badgering her about eating animals, how she should not eat that, it was wrong, she was eating a poor animal, etc. It was way out of hand. My daughter was afraid to eat her lunch. While we are tolerant of others choices, they need to be tolerant of our choices. It amazes me how mean kids can be.

  5. Megan Flowers says:

    I make smoothie Popsicles with fruit and sneak in spinach, kale, avocado. My4 yr old son n would exist off of yogurt squeezers and grilled cheese sandwiches if he could. He will eat broccoli, so we’ve got that going for us. I totally agree with living the example, the kids will eventually get curious. As for now, I refuse to force my son and create that stress for us. We do enjoy the occasional stop at McDonalds, everything in moderation. Living in Los Angeles we are surrounded by a healthy lifestyle, which includes a lot of moms that are extreme and tend to be judgy. My feeling on it is, if you want to judge, that’s your business not mine, I’m too busy sting mind games with a 4-year old.

  6. Amy says:

    I have to share a story about ME – an adult over 50 – learning to like new things. I had read (in the child nutrition books) that it takes approx 10 times of tasting something to get familiar with it and learn to like it. Well..my husband loves fish, and I….don’t. But he is convinced that it is good for us and imperative to eat, and went on a campaign. (Our kids are grown, and he does the cooking, so i didn’t have a lot of choice.) Well, he got salmon fillets every Sunday at the grocery store and we had salmon every Sunday night for dinner.
    At first he gave me a small piece, along with other dinner items. Gradually I got used to it. (Helps that it was boneless, wild caught, and on sale, haha.)

    Yesterday, we had salmon as usual, and I got a normal sized portion on my plate. I ate the whole thing and enjoyed it. It sort of surprised me, but I realized it had become a familiar taste and I really looked forward to it and enjoyed it.
    (I know everybody else loves salmon, so sue me! I have a wide-ranging palate except for fish.)
    I can imagine that is how kids feel – they like the predictable nature of pasta, chicken nuggets, etc.
    But to press on, even with small tastes, really is the right approach.

    And those food gestapos – please – their kids are the ones trading their lunch stuff for Oreo cookies, I’ll bet you anything!

  7. Meagan says:

    I think this is a most extreme case but I had a good friend growing up who wasn’t allowed ANYTHING in the “junk food” realm. Which meant every time she came over to our house, she gorged on Rice Krispie Treats, ate pints of ice cream with syrup, and more. And then she would make me swear up and down not to tell her mother. And this was before people were freaked out about GMO’s – it had to do with her mom worrying about her being “fat”. And guess what? That friend went off to college, went crazy with the open food options that she had been denied and fell into a deep battle with bulimia. My parents kept some junk in our house but it was never overly attractive – there wasn’t much there and quite frankly, we knew as athletes that we needed to eat better than that. So we had a scoop of ice cream when we wanted it and moved on. Much healthier that way – forbidden foods can turn on you.

  8. Andrea says:

    Again, different strokes for different folks. My daughter would eat and try anything. The nutrition choices I made for her when she was a child carried into her adulthood. I won’t apologize because I didn’t buy Oreos, Capri Suns, Doritos, Happy Meals, etc. I don’t like them and I chose not to put them in my grocery cart. If she got them at birthday parties or school functions, I let her have them. She realized on her own that what you eat affects the way you feel.

    I have strong opinions on nutrition, and I will stand by those.

  9. S. says:

    They should make a Saturday Night Live sketch about this.

    • Fonda Rush says:

      i think it is called a “hidden valley” commercial! lol! (i know i’m a little/a lot late in chiming in, but i just found this site, and i am having a ball! i will catch up…i promise!)

  10. Katie says:

    Do you want to get the dirtiest looks ever? Spend an hour at the park on a hot summer day. Forget sippy cups. Go to costco. Buy each child a food court cup and fill it halfway with watered down lemonade. Instant judgment! Results guaranteed 🙂

  11. Kim Elizabeth Watkins says:

    I totally agree with you. I brought up my children exactly the same way. Neither were a picky eater and are still not picky eaters as adults. I do though with much affection remember the only time there was a push back from my children on food. Dad was late coming home from work and it was just the kids and I. Lynn age 4 and James 3 1/2. James announced he didn’t like Spinach. Lynn then chimed in with the same statement. Instead of doing what my parents did which was grump at us. I replied, ‘Oh that’s too bad, Daddy loves spinach! Daddy grew big and strong like Popeye on spinach.’ I even had the arm motion going on like Popeye. Low and behold the spinach disappeared. I never made an issue of them choosing not to eat what was put in front of them. The easiest thing to overcome is a child who is a picky eater. Bodily functions eventually take over and they will eat. My great-nephew uses food as a control mechanism, yet when he comes each summer for a visit with us he eats what we eat. It’s because I don’t react to his “I don’t like.” He’s given permission not to eat what is on his plate when he says “I don’t like…” After a couple of days of Aunt Kim not cooking specifically for him his first visit he ate. At the same time we do get to go to McDonald’s and other favorite fast food restaurants along with the Houston Zoo, NASA, Moody Gardens, Kemah Boardwalk….etc. I do enjoy spoiling him just not with food.

    Then as a farmer/rancher I get to deal with the other side of food within the beef breed we raise. I work tirelessly in favor of grass fed beef although to me it tastes nasty. I quickly got tired of being berated in the same way mother’s have written here about food. As an Agriculture Economist I am in favor of all production systems within Agriculture. The final straw was sitting in a Board meeting with our Regional Assoc as a board member. One board member made a comment directed at me that everyone should only grow grass fed beef. I replied calmly, ‘Do you really want Grass Fed Beef to become a commodity?’ I smiled as she was about to respond then mouth closed. That sudden thought that if every beef producer grew grass fed beef the premium she received for her beef would evaporate in thin air. I promote the breeders choice of production system they choose and try to educate grass fed producers on the why they should jealously hold on to the niche market they enjoy. Then I add we work together side by side to promote our breed. And it’s working. There is far less finger pointing.

    Personally if one wants to have someone listen to your preferences on food or any other topic having a friendly conversation is so much easier then being critical towards another person. Just like not arguing with a child about food your more likely to persuade a person if you validate their choices to start with. Giving your friend a recipe you love with healthy food choices is always a much better way of getting them started down the road towards those choices. I’m not sure why we have become a nation of critics in so many areas but we have and maybe this paragraph will make others think with grace instead of being critical.

    Wonderful blog post….you were spot on with it!

  12. Yvonne says:

    We have always had a big dish full of fruit and a big dish full of candy on our table. My son just assumed that candy was no big deal because he’d never been told to stay away from it, so it became a non-issue. His friends would come over and their eyes would get big and they’d run at that bowl of candy like they were possessed! He’s now 13 and will choose fruit and vegetables over candy and chips and crap almost every time.

  13. TreehousePlaid says:

    I can only guess that you got a lot of emails or un-posted comments that were fairly nasty about your Capri Sun post that may have started with my comment about being disappointed that you were promoting the drink as a healthy alternative. I wasn’t taking issue with you giving it to your own kids, I was disappointed that you were promoting it. I stand by that comment. You are an influencer, which advertisers obviously have figured out, and your post was something I felt strongly enough to respectfully disagree with. There are people who are fighting food manufacturers to ensure safer and healthier ingredients not just for their own children, but for every child because big companies who produce cheap, good tasting products do not always have our kids’ best interests in mind. It is unfortunate that this issue has broken down into another mommy war. I think you added fuel to that fire with this post, and you’ve lost a loyal, years-long reader. Please consider the effect that you have as on women’s opinions when writing a post that pits groups of moms, or women, against each other. It really does nothing positive for a community that should be supporting each other, no matter what our choices are.

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      I didn’t get any e-mails or “un-posted comments” on that post, actually- just your comment and one other negative one. And here’s the thing- Your comment would carry a lot more weight with me if it weren’t for the fact that every comment you’ve ever left on this blog (via your e-mail and IP address) has been critical. If you really were a “fan,” I have to believe you’d have some good things to say sometimes, too. I honestly believe you’re better off not reading this blog and I mean that in the kindest way possible. Life’s too short to waste time reading people’s blogs that leave you wanting to write comments like this one.

  14. dedejohnson says:

    When i was a kid my mom was ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS on a diet. We never had cookies in our house or any kind of treats – the only thing we had were Weight Watchers Ice Cream bars! When i went over to my best friend’s house, by comparison, she had everything – cookies always in the jar, ice cream, potato chips. So I would eat and eat and eat those things at her house because I never got to have them at home.

    Now that I am a mom (who is always on a diet!) I think it is my job to make sure we have things in the house that are “sometimes” treats. We have Oreos, ice cream bars (not WW ones!) and small bags of Doritos. This occasionally takes a lot of willpower on my part not to overindulge, however I believe very strongly that we have to teach our children that they can have these things…in moderation. My kids don’t eat Oreos or Doritos every day but they have them a couple of times a week.

    My daughter is a very picky eater….only she is the opposite of most kids. She loves broccoli and cauliflower and strawberries and peas. She refuses to eat cake, ice cream, or cookies that are not Oreo or chocolate chip. I have had to teach her that when people offer her candy or birthday cake she can’t say “Eww! Gross!”, that she needs to say “No, thank you” if she doesn’t want it. I have no idea where this comes from. It is odd to explain it to people though!

  15. Aileen says:

    Amen. I love this post! About as much as I don’t like judgmental high and mighty b-words who give stank eye and insulting “advice” over another parent’s food choices. Geez. I live in Los Angeles where an organic-loving, Whole Foods-addicted couple found, to their absolute horror, their kid furtively scarfing down another kid’s discarded, half-eaten bag of candy lying in the sand at a park playground one day. Seriously.

  16. Gabby says:

    I’m going to come out and say it right here. I. LOVE. WHEAT! Whew. I feel better already. I comment your confession and support you 100% in your rights as a mom to feel your kids whatever the hell you want.

  17. NYMom says:

    Good for you…many don’t agree with moderation “how can you be moderate with ______ that will kill you!” (fill in the blank) … Problem is the jury is always out on what is good and bad. Remember Oatmeal was the wonder food of the 80’s along with no-fat version of everything. Oatmeal is still considered good by many but not quite the cure-all, and I think the no-fat/low-fat food craze has totally been debunked by now. When my son was young I only gave him water or milk to drink. An occasional OJ for breakfast. I wasn’t a big soda drinker, I enjoy an occasional one, but just didn’t think about it. He never drank soda, never asked for it, and he didn’t see mommy drinking it all the time… it was a non-issue. I wasn’t taking a stand on anything. In college I remember his roommate calling me kind of late one night…asking “Mrs….. is it true David has never had soda?” when I told him no, he has never had soda, he said they were convinced he was lying because they had never heard of anyone not having soda. LOL…

  18. Tracy_Flick says:

    I have a friend with a child the same age as mine, and they actually even have the same first name. Both little blond preschool boys. One of them has a garbage-pail appetite and will eat anything you put in front of him, from spinach to pickled herring. The other one won’t eat anything other than white bread and those fruit/veggie pouches that taste like applesauce, despite his parents doing everything “right”. And if I posted a pic of the two of them together, you wouldn’t be able to tell which is which. They’re both perfectly healthy, happy, growing boys. The picky one is just super-sensitive to flavors and textures. I think the whole fixation with food is another way to obsess about things that don’t make that much difference in the long run.

  19. Adriana Quiñones Riccardi says:

    Oh I LOVE this post! I am so right there with you! I raised 3 of my own kids. One choose salads at Mcdonalds and the other lived on cheese and pasta and called all meat chicken. The oldest is a fabulous cook, the youngest still loves salads but my middle girl became a marine and won the most fit marine in bootcamp. She leaned to eat well eventually. They are ALL healthy adults. I am now on round 2, raising 2 step children, one a great eater and the other like my daughter-but he hates pasta and cheese and ONLY wants steak! HAHA…AND they ALL had capri suns and chips and ice cream and and and….Moderation is the key folks! And modeling healthy choices and making stuff thats good for them available when they decide, ya, they will try that! Thanks for keeping this real. Most moms are like us, I really believe that!

  20. eep86 says:

    I once watched as a mom argued with her son in a line for a children’s activity. The boy wanted a Capri Sun (which really aren’t that bad for you) and she refused to let him. He was only have the WATER. “Water, Son. NO, WATER. You may ONLY have the WATER.” It was sad for the youngster who just wanted to be like his friends.

    I also have no doubt that when he leaves home he will find himself strung out on juiceboxes and candy psychologically stemming from that awful moment.

  21. Jill Doughtie says:

    High five!!! I am a stepmom to young adults, too, and a mom to a two year old. I had a very similar experience. They ate a lot more fast food and things that came in packages than I would have chosen, and they grew up to be much more adventurous and health conscious than I would have imagined, so I am also chilling out a lot more this time around.

  22. shoegal99 says:

    Just came across your blog…you crack me up! Love that you put words to the things that happen in many homes that we dare not speak of. 🙂

  23. AC says:

    I’m new to your blog today and I feel like I’ve found my long lost twin, my sister from another mister, my motherhood doppleganger. It’s like you’ve taken my thoughts and put them on your blog. Let what’s-her-bucket three posts down stop reading. I’m here to happily take her place.

  24. Anne says:

    I had a roommate in college whose mom was a devout vegan, all organic, brown rice only adherent. Growing up, my roommate was only allowed to eat that way, and her mom was so adamant about eating healthy that she would even make her bring her own food along with her when she went out to play at a friend’s house. By the time she got to college, she was the biggest junk food junkie I’d ever seen, to the point that she developed real problems with her teeth from all the sugar she ate. Even though she enjoyed her hohos and cheetos, she was miserable enough to say to anyone who would listen, “Don’t make your kids your food dogma, because it will backfire.”

    When I became a mother, I remembered that experience. We have always had snacks, candy, and ice cream around — along with healthy meals, plenty of fruit and veggies, and whole grains. The only thing my husband and I banned was soda. Our kid learned to regulate his eating on his own — and makes himself a small bowl of ice cream after homework just about every night. He is healthy and has no cavities.

  25. Kerry Steele says:

    Awesome! I could not have read this on a better day. Yesterday left me feeling like a rotten mom as I listened to some new pals one up each other with PC food choices and Barbie-free houses. Their kids had never been to McD’s.
    I think it was a super brave thing to post this and give yourself (and me) permission to eat and feed our kids as WE see fit. A pop-tart is not going to kill my daughter, nor will eating fries guarantee a lifelong weight problem. She happens to love roasted broccoli too. I am not crazy about feeding her hotdogs but it happens and they are NOT organic. Too bad. Mind your own business people.Parents need to stop judging each other.

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