I guess I’ll be “that” mom.

I read an article today on USNews.com by an author named Yoki Freedhoff.  Here’s the link, but in case the link breaks one day, here are a few excepts from the article itself:

I have three lovely little girls who range in age from 3 to 8. All three go to school, participate in organized, after-school activities, enjoy birthday parties and play dates, and have a cadre of friends. And everywhere they go, they’re being smothered with junk.

Last week my 3-year-old’s pre-school had a “color war.” An email sent to parents explained that there would be a fruit snack and “a treat of course.” It’s not so much the treat that’s the problem, it’s the “of course.”

As many defenders of pushing junk foods on kids will tell you, “one treat isn’t going to kill them,” but it’s the societal “of course” attitude that might—as if 3-year-olds wouldn’t be thrilled to pieces to just play all day and enjoy some fruit on its own.

For us anyhow, it never seems to end. Saturday skating lessons often include lollipops, kids’ grab bags from community races regularly contain chocolates, loot bags from friends parties might as well be renamed candy bags, libraries host events with names like “Donuts and Dads,” bending a blade of grass with soccer shoes leads to sugar-sweetened sport drinks on the field and often ice cream or popsicles when the final whistle blows, and so on and so forth. And don’t even get me started on juice. No doubt too, each and every time I speak up, there’s someone out there telling me I shouldn’t be so frustrated, as it’s just “one” lollipop, it’s just “one” ice cream sandwich, it’s just “one” chocolate bar. If only it were just “one.”

This article was not lost on me.  I think about this topic often.  I agree with the author.

Last week I began searching for ideas for Poppyseed’s first birthday cake.  For a paleo family, that is already a little bit more challenging than usual.  You can seek out a bakery that makes a gluten-free cake and just accept the fact that it will probably still be made of weird stuff.  You can make your own paleo birthday cake out of natural ingredients, knowing that it may be a little more time consuming.  (You’ll also find yourself spending some extra money on odd ingredients that are not in your kitchen already.)  Or, you can just throw in the towel completely and use a normal ole cake recipe or buy a regular ole cake and just call this the 20% of your 80/20 paleo lifestyle.  (The 80/20 theory is that 80% of the time you eat paleo so that 20% of the time you can just live your life and enjoy any type of food that you like.)

For us, I feel like it’s more difficult.  I had a blood intolerance test run on Poppyseed that showed reactivity to egg.  It is a genetic test- meaning that no, she will not grow out of it.  She inherited it.  So, that has really thrown a wrench into any type of store-bought desserts and even paleo baking.  (I have to tell you – I almost regret getting her tested at all.  Ignorance could have been bliss.  An “intolerance” to a food is not the same as an allergy – she probably wouldn’t have a major immune response (such as hives) if she were to eat eggs or something made with eggs.  An intolerance is more likely to effect her digestive or gut health more gradually.  I wouldn’t worry if our family tree were completely peachy, but gut/digestive issues exist on both sides.)

This also happened to be the week that I visited a Mother’s Day Out program.  I was filling out a basic questionnaire that asked me all types of questions about my baby.   I was writing in everything from her nickname (Chunky Monkey), her favorite calming item (the pacifier of course), and how she likes to sleep (on her tummy, oh horror of horrors).

Then there was the dreaded food section.  I was instructed to read a list of available snacks and circle the items that I would allow them to give to her.

Um, there were no circles on that page.

I won’t name the actual snacks, but here are the ingredients to each snack that I copied and pasted right from each manufacturer’s website.

Snack 1:  Whole grain oats, modified corn starch, sugar, salt, tripotassium phosphate, wheat starch, vitamin E.

Snack 2: ORGANIC WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, ORGANIC RICE FLOUR, ORGANIC WHEAT STARCH, ORGANIC CANE SUGAR, ORGANIC DRIED APPLE PUREE, TRI- AND DICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, NATURAL APPLE FLAVOR, MIXED TOCOPHEROLS (FOR FRESHNESS), ZINC SULFATE, SOY AND SUNFLOWER LECITHIN, ALPHA TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), ELECTROLYTIC IRON, ACETIC ACID, ORGANIC APPLEJUICE CONCENTRATE.

Snack 3: Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Cheddar Cheese [(Pasteurized Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Annatto, Vegetable Oils (Canola, Sunflower and/or Soybean), Contains 2 Percent or Less of: Salt, Yeast, Sugar, Spices, Autolyzed Yeast, Leavening: (Monocalcium Phosphate, Ammonium Bicarbonate, Baking Soda) and Onion Powder.

Huh….

Okay, I get it.  I ate that stuff as a kid, you probably did too.  But I can’t help sitting here and thinking….

Tocopherol wha!??! In my 11 month old’s little body?  Oh helllllllll no.

And why is autolyzed yeast in bold?  Because it’s a clever name for MSG…. an additive used to make things addicting.  Really!?

I mean, people, I really do want to circle SOMETHING.  I almost circled Snack 1.  I mean, at least it has less than 10 ingredients, right?

But no.  I crossed them all out and wrote an arrow pointing to the margin of the page and scribbled in: “Please do not give her any food on this list.  We will provide plenty of snacks for her.  Thank you!”

For now, it’s really no big deal.  It’s just not that hard to throw some blueberries in a ziploc or pack half of a banana in her lunch box.  Today she spent all day with her grandma.  I packed mashed sweet potato, chicken and vegetable soup, and berries.  She’s a baby and she simply eats whatever is offered.  It’s still easy.

But I do know that one day she will grow up and have an opinion of her own.  She will go places without me, and she will sit amongst other youngsters who don’t eat the way we do.  If I try to control things too strictly at that point, I may face a lot more opposition.  I don’t want to restrict things so much so that she feels left out or, well, sad.

Not to mention the other parents.  Other parents may label me “that mom” and think that I’m trying to out-do them, that I’m a control freak, or worse, that I’m actually judging them.  Another quote from the article above is here:

Somewhere along the line, we’ve normalized the constant provision of junk food to children. It seems no matter how small the ship or short the journey, sugar pretty much christens each and every voyage on which our children set sail.

There’s simply no occasion too small to not warrant a junk food accompaniment. But for me, the strangest part of all is the outcry that occurs if and when I point it out. My experiences have taught me that junk food as part of children’s’ activities has become so normalized that my questioning this sugary status quo genuinely offends peoples’ sensitivities and sometimes even generates frank anger.

People ask me all the time, “What are you going to do when _______?”  The blank consists of “she goes to a birthday party” or “she goes to school where there are snacks everywhere” or “she goes trick-or-treating.”

I don’t have all the answers.  I have concerns, and I have ideas.  I know that she will eventually have a cracker, and no, I don’t plan on (totally) freaking out.  (I do worry that my husband will, and he will spare no one’s feelings, so I can only hope that the cracker-feeder will only be dealing with me!)

All I know is this bowl.  It’s just an old green Pyrex bowl.  It even has a little mini-me friend.

photo-264

Do you know what this bowl stands for?  Happiness.

Yep, this exact bowl used to be in the house that I grew up in.  My mom used it to make just about every Thanksgiving and Christmas recipe.  My sister used it when she taught me how to make Nestle Tollhouse cookies (which I can still make from memory).  My dad used it to mix up pancake batter on special Sunday mornings.  And my brother and I used it to make blueberry muffins once we were old enough to be unsupervised in the kitchen.

I remember all of those memories in the kitchen, and they are so special to me.  So much so that when I was in the midst of my mother’s estate sale last month I easily sold the old antique telephone that was actually worth something while this green bowl sat safely tucked away in the trunk of my car.  I made sure that this piece of my childhood could stay in our family forever.

I don’t want to deprive my children of things that are delicious.  And I certainly do want them to have special treats.  I can’t wait until I teach Poppyseed to make something sweet and yummy and special in the same bowl that I learned in.

But I really don’t want plastic wrapped candy to be thrown at her all week at school.  I don’t want processed foods to be marketed to her as healthy just because they are organic or made with heart-healthy grains.  (I don’t think grains are healthy!  At all!)

I think it’s just plain sad that apple slices or carrot sticks (or at least apple sauce for those babies with no teeth yet!) are not on the snack lists.  And I get even more sad when I think that other moms may not like me because I feed my family differently.  I am a social person.  I REQUIRE social activity and I NEED friends in my life.  I WANT to be friends with the other moms, and I love being included in the simple playground picnics and getting invited to the other kiddos’ birthday festivities.  It makes me sad to think that some of those invitations may not be extended due to our diet.  Again, I’m happy to go to those things – AGAIN, it’s just not that hard to pack a few healthy snacks before we go!

I hope that I figure it out.  So when people ask me “How are you going to deal with _____?” I will simply say…

Gosh, I really don’t know.  I guess it’s just like everything else in this whole parenting gig… I’ll have an ideal plan and try to stick to it.  I may be “that mom” a lot.  Luckily it will all happen one day, one party, and one holiday at a time.

On Sunday we went to the ranch to ride horses with Daddy and took a picnic.  These itty bitty containers are great!  Salmon, squash and avocado with apple sauce.

On Sunday we went to the ranch to ride horses with Daddy and took a picnic. These itty bitty containers are great! Salmon, squash and avocado with apple sauce.

I love putting little piles of different foods on her tray and watching what she eats.  So far, blueberries are ALWAYS her first reach.

I love putting little piles of different foods on her tray and watching what she eats. So far, blueberries are ALWAYS her first reach.

A fun idea - I had a bag of organic apples that were mostly all brused.  Sliced them and put them in the crockpot with a drizzle of coconut oil - WOW.  Delish and perfect baby food.

A fun idea – I had a bag of organic apples that were mostly all brused. Sliced them and put them in the crockpot with a drizzle of coconut oil – WOW. Delish and perfect baby food.

 

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Comments

  1. I love everything about this post. And my natural deodorant sucks. But you, Laura, do not suck as a mom. Go on with your granola self 🙂

  2. I honestly think you’re thinking about it too much and it won’t be as much of an issue as you think. Times and and trends are changing, as well as grocery store aisles. Most importantly, you surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Give life a chance to work itself out before you get too worked up about how you think people will react to your lifestyle… There are a lot of folks who are catching on, and probably more that are open to it, especially with the paleo/crossfit stuff getting a lot of love these days, and especially by the time violet’s participating in social events. I think you’ll be fine. You’re a social butterfly and people can’t help but be your friend. Just be theirs, too.
    Live your life how you want and be happy. People will follow you.

    And that bowl is badass.

    • Haha yes – I probably am overanalyzing it. Sometimes friends of mine will apologize to me as they give their kids snacks that we don’t eat… and I hate it because I don’t ever want them to think I’m judging. And I have had a couple of friends say “We almost called you to come over for lunch/dinner/whatever but realized you wouldn’t have eaten anything.” I just hope that I get better at explaining our reasons why we eat a certain way quickly and gracefully so to not make others feel like we are crazies. 🙂 Even though, let’s be real, we are crazy.

  3. Hey,

    I found another recipe. Egg free grain free dairy free. I think the secret is to find recipes that you can turn the other kids and parents to your way of thinking, i.e. healthy eating and delicious food aren’t mutually exclusive.

    It looks really good.

    http://www.thespunkycoconut.com/2012/05/ooey-gooey-butter-cake-vegan-grain-free.html

  4. I am so with you on this topic. I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and I’m going to take the same approach with daycare (My almost 10 mo son goes 3 days a week). I figure I’ll bring my son’s food so that I know at least he’ll have mostly good stuff, and then if some not-so-good stuff slips in (which eventually I know it will!) that’s just life. I do love those little containers!

  5. I’m with you as well – I not only deal with this at school, but also with my own family. They are probably worse because they know that we are primal/paleo and we do not want our kids to eat certain foods. We always get – “it is just one cracker” or “I’ll let you have whatever you want, sweetie,” right in front of me or my husband. It sucks – then we become the bad guys. Since our kids are 7, 5, and 3, they have already been exposed to the coveted bread (my 3 year old especially loves bread) and it is so hard to get them out of the habit when it is constantly offered to them elsewhere. All I can hope for is that we continually give them snacks and meals that are as healthy as possible and eventually they will turn down the junk for something that makes them feel good. My 7 year old already shuns fried food – I’m hoping one day my children will tell the people who offer them junk that it isn’t good for them and they don’t want it. Will that ever happen? 🙂

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