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thoughts on parent dietary habits/attitudes influence on kids

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  • #16
    Please do not think that I was trying to downplay the importance of your role in mothering this child (as a step-parent), but rather looking more toward how you might need to navigate it between how parents negotiate on these issues.

    I know a lot of biological mothers get in quite a twist when the step-mother is given a lot of responsibility for the child in terms of decision making, and that could cause all kinds of strife. But if your situation is different (and it certainly can be), then it is different.

    I was also really pointing out that you can let go of some of the pressure that you are putting on yourself and your DH -- because she is only with you 15% of the time. Certainly, you have influence, but not primary influence.

    In terms of learning about nutrition, I don't think that's really necessary per se. It might be, but I doubt it. It would be easy enough for you to make a chart for her and some recipes.

    A friend of mine made a chart for her daughter (age 5, food aversions due to being on the autism spectrum). It had pictures at the top of 4 heroines: Arwyn, Alice (from Alice in Wonderland), Eowyn, and one other that I can't remember. Each one had specific attributes. Like, Arwyn is a healer, so she would be the foods for "immunity to make you strong and healthy" which might be things like fruits and veggies. Alice is adaptable and capable under difficult circumstances (problem solving), so these are "smart" foods to help build brain power which would be things like protein and fats. Eowyn is a strong warrior, so she needs foods that will build her body.

    So, this chart was something that taught the little girl some basics -- not necessarily food groups per se, but what foods did. And then each meal, she had to choose foods from each category so that she knew she would develop all of those attributes. Snacks, etc. It's a good little chart, honestly. And you can make it your own. But focus it on the little girl, and make it more of a game, than worrying about whether or not your partner is learning this stuff.

    Now, a note about anxiety.

    My husband struggled with extreme anxiety -- in fact his whole family does. So, part of it is. . . whatever that is. But it manifested out through the food, too. That was where he could control things, right?

    So anyway, when we were learning about GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), well, we learned that the gut flora affects mental health. Overgrowth of certain flora release more of certain kinds of chemicals that then manifest in anxiety, etc.

    When my husband started working with his naturopath/nutritionist, she did a stool sample and he came up as basically a classic case of this sort of overgrowth. She put him on a modified GAPS protocol, and his anxiety decreased immensely.

    So, that might help (or might not).


    • #17
      Last edited by Liquid Gusto; 01-10-2014, 08:11 PM.


      • #18
        None of what I'm suggesting (aside from the chart for the kiddo and stuff) is about quick fixes or things that I'm suggesting need to happen "now" or that it's even an answer at all.

        I think a lot of these things are chickens and eggs.

        Like, my husband's anxiety and depression can be clearly linked to familial behavior patterns, and out of that, you see a lot of food phobias arising (i'm not suggesting that your partner is the same.).

        But what really surprised us was this dietary connection -- since we'd never considered it and Dh really hit a wall in terms of anxiety (i.e., he started to get panic attacks and migraines).

        When he discovered the gut issue and started to work with it, things got worse at first. The first three months were really hard. But then things got better. A lot better. He was so much more mellow overall -- and he hasn't had a panic attack in over 3 years. That's a lot of good stuff right there.

        He isn't on any medications for anxiety or depression, thankfully, but he also feels like he's just not anxious anymore. The general anxiety that he felt when awake just no longer existed.

        And, you know, it's something that he just figured was "part of him" -- because of the family dynamics, etc. But when he looks back at how he was raised, the food quality from infancy onwards. . . he saw clearly a pattern of malnutrition and where the gut flora could easily get out of whack.

        He's now on a prebiotic (that you can put into coffee, tea, whatever beverage hot or cold and it has no flavor), as well as his GAPS protocol stuff, plus a third round of what helps kill off the over-abundant flora while bringing in other flora to balance his gut.

        In a few years, or maybe sooner or later, this may be useful information.


        • #19
          Don't have kids, so despite feeling that makes me an expert , will refrain from commenting on that.

          What I do worry about is you living long term with someone who doesn't sound very aware of your needs. I cannot get my DH to stop having toast, but it is the only glutenny thing in the house. He does not understand that the crumbs get on the floor and walked around. That they get in the dish cloth etc. How will you cope with that stuff long term? It is hard work staying GF in an environment where the stuff is floating around. Even if it is below the level that it causes symptoms, it can still have health impacts. He recently told me that the caravan we have on order will be a 'gluten free zone'. I nearly cried. He'll come around in the house in his own time. I don't see that hope in your future.

          I really do feel for you. You are trying to decide if this is a relationship you can handle long term. I wonder if you have already made up your mind, and just need to justify your decision.

          Virtual hugs and best wishes.


          • #20
            One thing I am strict on regardless of disability is that they don't get to live on junk
            Food can be a nightmare in my home but there's always a healthy option , as I've got smarter about food I've got stricter with that rule and my 15 year old is now paleo 80% of the time

            I've found the kids all want to be healthy and the more they understand what processed food does to then the more they choose to switch


            • #21
              Last edited by Liquid Gusto; 01-10-2014, 08:12 PM.


              • #22
                Last edited by Liquid Gusto; 01-10-2014, 08:12 PM.


                • #23
                  Originally posted by Liquid Gusto View Post
                  He apologizes now and then when he knows there is a restaurant I'd like to go to but we can't and apologizes he can't try meals I make.
                  Why can't you go out occasionally by yourself or with friends to try a new restaurant?


                  • #24
                    Last edited by Liquid Gusto; 01-10-2014, 08:13 PM.


                    • #25
                      To be honest, talking about these problems from the outset is the issue.

                      With your step daughter, it might never come up at this point, and that's fine. If it does come up, you can talk about it, but I don't' think I'd have an overt conversation right now.

                      But with future children, they start asking questions about food differences around age 3/4. Maybe a little before. DS will ask why this or that family eats this or that when we don't, or why this person eats X and we eat Y and so on.

                      So, if the question comes up, you just have to be honest. It's nothing to be ashamed of in terms of the medical condition, just as you aren't ashamed of being celiac, right? So, you know, there it is. It just is as it is. And a child accepts it.

                      And later in life will question it, and go from there.


                      • #26
                        Last edited by Liquid Gusto; 01-10-2014, 08:13 PM.


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Liquid Gusto View Post
                          Me expecting him to give up gluten because I can't eat it due to a medical condition would be unfair because he would literally starve.

                          He would die because steak and potatoes are so unpalatable.

                          Originally posted by Liquid Gusto View Post
                          We both have medical conditions forcing us to eat the way we do... It's just his forces him to eat loads of sugar and gluten.
                          I have never heard of this diet. What is it?
                          Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

                          Griff's cholesterol primer
                          5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
                          Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
                          TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
                          bloodorchid is always right


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Liquid Gusto View Post
                            I have to respectfully disagree on not bringing it up until it comes up. My concern is, I don't want my stepdaughter, but more so my children, to ever think it is "normal" to drink soda/pop with every meal. From the beginning, I want to have a plan in place that ensures they'll know it is not healthy before they're ever think to question why Dad can have sugary drinks and deep fried meat, or even candy, for each meal, while they have vegetables, fruit, and protein. I don't want to wait until it is a problem/concern/issue and then discuss it. I've seen how that approach worked out for my stepdaughter to some extent, and it isn't pretty. Food and health are important to me, so to not think about how I will deal with living with this, and raising a family, for the rest of my life would be a mistake.
                            I'm a bit confused about this, because it doesn't seem to take into consideration a variety of factors at play. I guess this is because it is chewing on your mind so much.

                            First, you acknowledge that you cannot change your partner's eating habits. Therefore, the environment that your children will be in will dictate that this behavior is "normal." That's end of story. That is the father's behavior, it becomes the wall paper. It is normal.

                            But, that doesn't mean your children have to eat that way, and I didn't suggest this. Instead, I suggested not worrying yourself too much about it until it comes up with the direct questions.

                            A little one -- say under the age of two, really -- doesn't have any concept of these concepts around healthy, normal, etc. There's breast milk, there's the food provided to the child. THere aren't a lot of questions about it. Honestly, it doesn't come up.

                            When they hit around age 2-4, then questions start: why can daddy have this? why can't I have that? That's when you explain it, because that's when their brains want to know why.

                            Later, the questions will shift even more, to even more complex constructs. It's difficult to explain to my son why my extended family has certain foods regularly and why we don't and/or he's not allowed. We talk about not just health, but cultural differences between the families and also different ideas about what food is acceptable and what food is not acceptable (and how those may be considered).

                            As your children age, their ability to understand these things in depth will make more sense.

                            It's good to have a plan, certainly.

                            But right now, you don't actually know your children or their needs or how and when these things will come up, what sorts of questions they'll have, and what sorts of answers will satisfy those questions for them. And that's why I'm telling you to cross the bridge as it comes to it. Because you can prepare, and certainly you should, but the reality is going to be very different from your plan.

                            It doesn't mean you won't succeed in the overall theme or idea of your plan, but rather, it's not going to work out exactly as you might be thinking it will.

                            This is just from my own experience. I mean, people told me all the time to just let it happen, etc, try not to plan everything out, and it was frustrating to hear. Most people added to that "you're going to fail at what you want anyway" stuff -- and I don't add that to this situation because the reality is that I have done everything that I set out to do thus far in terms of how I've raised him. But, it hasn't been identical to what I expected at certain places, but overall, we've definitely headed in the direction that I want to go with him.

                            I agree he shouldn't be ashamed, and he isn't for the most part as long as he is comfortable with people. Like you said, kids are pretty accepting in their younger years, so I suppose they'll just accept it as a "rule" of life: Dad can eat like that because of his medical condition, I don't have that condition so I can't. It gets all messed up with my stepdaughter in the mix since she doesn't have an eating disorder but eats pretty unhealthy because she is allowed to most of the time.. but oh well I guess!
                            Right, so your step-daughter's dominant paradigm is that this food is acceptable. It's what her mother feeds her, it's what her father eats. So in this way, unless your partner is going to step in and explain everything to her now, and let you guide her food availability when she is in your home (plus using charts, etc), she's going to hold to the idea that these foods are acceptable without question. That's just her experience and worldview, and very little is saying otherwise. And even if you are, her mother has far more authority in her life and experience than you do right now anyway. And her dad is second in line to that (if not equal).

                            so moving in with this information about healthy/unhealthy (which is acceptable/unacceptable), and it's going to be confusing. It just is. But you have no power/control over it really (unless you come up with a workable plan between the three of you to shift her diet radically over the course of a couple of weeks or months). to me, it will be better for you, emotionally, to let it go if no one else is willing to work on it.

                            But for your own children, yes, you can have a different process and experience. But i would wait on explaining the eating disorder bit until they ask. As babies, they won't get it, so I don't really see the point there.


                            • #29
                              I didn't read the whole thread so I hope my response is at least somewhat helpful...

                              You don't have to turn your step-daughter into 100% primal for your actions to make a positive impact in her life. Small changes add up. You never know what sticks.

                              For example, I have 2 much-younger siblings. I only see both of them 2-3 weeks a year because I'm away in law school. They are still curious why I'm eating "weird" when I come home. My sister would stop eating chips for a while to inquire about my baby carrots on the road trip, and then nibble on a carrot herself. My brother now eats much less restaurant fried foods because I told him they give him acne. My brother will eat more protein when I'm around him. My sister watches my every move so I can't be too restrictive (go IF or on a hack, for example) in front of her. We go on walks around the neighborhood.

                              Some of these habits last past my visits. Even if they don't, 3 weeks of healthier choices out of 52 weeks a year isn't nothing.
                              HCLF: lean red meat, eggs, low-fat dairy, bone broth/gelatin, fruits, seafood, liver, small amount of starch (oatmeal, white rice, potatoes, carrots), small amount of saturated fat (butter/ghee/coconut/dark chocolate/cheese).

                              My Journal: gelatin experiments, vanity pictures, law school rants, recipe links

                              Food blog: GELATIN and BONE BROTH recipes

                              " The best things in life are free and the 2nd best are expensive!" - Coco Chanel


                              • #30
                                Last edited by Liquid Gusto; 01-10-2014, 08:14 PM.