Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Notion of Different Parenting/Food Philosophies for Different Kids

I always thought I'd be able to apply the same nutrition principles and food philosophy with all of the kids I'd have.

Until lately.

Lately, I've been mulling where to give wiggle room. For my 2 year old, there is none. She has sensory processing disorder and speech/developmental delay, and is on a gluten free dairy free gut-healing diet.

But my 5 year old kindergartner? She is now coming up on halfway through her school year.  I've come to grudgingly admit that my glory days of packing her uncompromising real food lunches for preschool have to be adapted into a more self-aware social context. She's already reported to me that cafeteria tablemates have made fun of her Wholly Guacamole 100 calorie packs, teasing her by saying they look gross.

(Side note: Parents, can we all agree to train our kids to never make fun of other kids' lunches? I know it's hard to do, but it's worthwhile. Thanks very much.)

I've tried to continue the angle of her holding her own, saying that she should joke around with them that it's like she's eating slime, ewwwwwwwwww. Deviled eggs - seemed pretty innocuous to me - are also being reviled.

It's never been my goal for my kids to feel stifled by our dietary approach. I want my daughters to learn in concrete terms why we chose the foods that we do. I also try not to condemn foods wholesale, but to refer to foods as being along a spectrum in terms of healthfulness, and asking about what healthier choices might exist.

That said, lately I've given my 5 year old more of an 80/20 approach. Since she eats lunches away from her sister during the school day, she might get a handful of 6 or 7 gluten free pretzels in her lunch once a week, or once in a great while a tetrapack single serving of chocolate almond milk. I even had a day a couple of weeks ago when I packed her a slice of Chebe pizza leftover from a weekend gathering with grandparents -- and it so happened that pizza was on the menu in the lunchroom. I think these minor concessions go a long way to helping her to feel more like her friends without compromising too much.

How to you work the 80/20 angle for your kids' lunches? Do you have a household where different food standards apply among your kids based on their individual physiological and social/emotional needs?


  1. This is not something I have had to deal with yet, but I know that the day is coming. So far my daughter is fine with the changes to our diet and is proud to eat the food she does, but I'm concerned how this will change when she starts school. Since we're still in the early stages and I'm still looking for the "right" diet, I'm not sure how much wiggle room there will be.

    I agree that it is important for kids to learn to respect each other and the foods they eat.

    1. I think that the earlier years with a slightly more dialed in approach actually set a pretty good long term precedent when we've started to add back in a few compromise foods. Who knows? In ten or fiften years she might be "over" the social stuff and back to eating for lunch the smelly stuff she loves (kimchi, pickles, deviled and boiled eggs, etc.) with gusto.

      That said, i did pack her a little 1 oz. container of liverwurst today to go with a few rice crackers. (The rest of the lunch was sliced preservative free turkey, applesauce, grapes, and guacamole.) Curious to see whether that one has any discussoin points from her tablemates!

  2. My 12 year old was a bit selfconscious about what food to bring in the beginning when starting a new school. But I let him choose for himself and felt it was ok when he only brought dried fruits and nuts some days or just an apple and a banana on other days - he had nutrious breakfasts and dinners at home so he'd survive! Now a few months later he normaly packs a more varied lunch and often choose to include something I baked (Paleo - but looks like "normal" baked goods :-)). He even tells the other guys about our "diet" and lets them try from his muffins or crackers. I think giving the kids some "space" and letting them be part of the packing / choosing process will give them the confidence they need to stand up for their food.

    1. I am so with you - to whatever extent I feel I'm comfortable offering my 5 year old choices, I try to do so. Having her involved in the lunch packing process means that she's more eager to eat the lunches she brings.

  3. I too have this same issue. Out of my 3 children, my oldest is in middle school and doesn't care what people think about her food choices. I don't think it's ever an issue. My two younger in elementary school have been made fun of. My son won't even pack a lunch and when I pack one he "accidentally" leaves it at home. So, I have given in for the sake of my child not being ridiculed and let him eat school lunch. He eats snacks I send and breakfast dinner they way we all do. My other daughter packs a lunch about half the time and eats school lunch half the time. I just didn't want to be a food nazi and want to let them have a choice whether they want to have to deal with yet another social stigma.

  4. My daughter is in kindergarten too and I also don't want her to feel left out of different based on her lunch. We pack her pretty paleo lunches (leftover meat, cut up fruit and veggies, cheese, nuts and dried fruit) most days of the week and then she gets the hot lunch when it's something that seems ok to me. She wants to get hot lunch every day because she says that so many kids get it so we compromise on at least once a week. Luckily, I'm able to see what the options are and choose ahead of time. I usually choose a chicken dish with sides of veggies and fruit. Sometimes she gets a california roll with fruit and veg and sometimes a terriyaki chicken bowl with the same sides. Once she even chose a spinach salad! Not perfect lunches and I'm sure the meat isn't local and organic but it makes her feel happy and that's really important.

    Also, it was nice to read that you sent pizza because I didn't feel like that worst paleo parent! I too let me daughter make the choice to eat pizza at family/friend gatherings. It is sometimes an internal struggle for me to let her eat things I know aren't the best for her but I also know how social food is and how it makes you feel isolated and different not to partake with friends so I let her make her own choices. Thanks so much for sharing on this topic!

  5. AO, I just want to tell you, you ROCK! You have helped my eating lifestyle like you can't imagine! Introducing me to Coconut Oil and more, now I can't get enough. Hubby and I have a new HEALTHY body to thank you. We have now got our kids eating differently than they are used to and it's been gradual in most areas and immediate in others. I notice their health has improved and this is a relief to this mommy! Thank you and bless you for your time and effort in your posts!
    Jackie Davis ;)


I cherish your comments, each and every one!

Please note that comments that are off-topic or of a gratuitously promotional nature will not be published. Also, for reasons of privacy, comments with my name or family members' names will not be published.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...