In response to my last post, Why I’ll Eat Anything You Serve Me, a few people brought up their kids. They wondered: Was it OK to turn down bad foods offered to your children? If so, what were some acceptable ways to do that? Or should you allow grandparents and hosts to express love in the way that they know best, even if you don’t think it’s best for your kid?
I confess, I slowly cringed internally. I hadn’t thought about that. When I’d written my post, I’d only been thinking of myself. I will eat anything you serve me.
But it’s a whole different story with my kid.
Or at least, I fear it will be. I don’t know yet. My daughter’s only thirteen months old, which means she’s only been eating solids for about seven months. And for the most part, it’s been pretty simple. I’ve been in control of what she eats. People generally accept that you bring special foods for your baby with you wherever you go, and don’t expect you to feed her what everyone else is eating.
Which is a relief. Because even though I’ve let her eat adult food from the start, I can pick and choose what goes onto her high chair tray.
So I haven’t run into this issue too much yet. But the few encounters I’ve had haven’t been too promising.
In other words, I’ve been kind of a CrunchyNaziMommy when it has come to feeding my baby.
See, I can deal with the thought of occasionally messing with my own blood-sugar levels or ingesting the occasional GMO. It’s my own body, and if I choose relationships over health every once in a while, well, that’s my business, right?
My anxieties rise, however, when it comes to my baby’s perfect, pure little body. It doesn’t belong to me, and yet I’m responsible for its well-being. How can I possibly allow that fresh, untainted little being to be polluted with toxins and carcinogens? While it’s still forming and developing? Before she has a say in any of it?
I want to build healthy food habits. I don’t want her metabolism to be hijacked by the horrible Standard American Diet. I want to avoid the destructive addictions inherent in our broken food system.
As a result, I’ve been rather severe about what goes into my daughter’s mouth so far. Many times already, I’ve given my dad stern looks and shakes of my head at the very suggestion of giving her a taste of sugar before her first birthday.
“No grains and no sugar!” has been my oft-repeated mantra.
“I want to keep her teeth, thank you very much.”
(I have, in the last couple of months, started to give her occasional tastes of both. Yesterday she had rice for the first time and devoured it).
Once, I even called my mom-in-law while she was babysitting, after hearing that they were planning to have hot dogs for supper, to ask her to please not give Lydia any hot dogs. I just couldn’t bear the thought of all those preservatives and dyes and mechanically-separated meats going into my baby’s perfect body.
I don’t know what I’ll do as Lydia gets older. I’m already fretful when I think about all those birthday parties with their sugary cakes, laced with carcinogenic food dyes. My stomach twists at the thought of future Halloweens and Easters, and the mountains of harmful treats associated with them. What will I do? How much will I allow to go into her mouth? What will I say to loving friends and family members who want to offer her toxic crap?
I want to protect my child’s health sooooo badly. At the same time, I don’t want grandparents to feel scared to feed her lest they unleash the wrath of CrunchyNaziMommy. I understand that grandparents often feel most comfortable showing love through gifts of food and treats. And I want Lydia to be able to connect with other kids over shared meals and snacks, just as I do.
So that’s why I’m already collecting tips and tricks for how to keep bad foods to a minimum. Things like sending her to parties on a full stomach, and helping her to be aware of how crappy she feels after eating junk.
In the meantime, though, I might be a little nuts.
How about you? If you’re a parent, how do you deal with bad foods being offered to your kids?