I am one of those lucky mothers whose children are healthy and don't have to follow a certain diet due to its known unwanted reactive affects on them. However, I am also one of those mums who pays a lot of attention to her children's daily intakes on a regular basis voluntarily. I sometimes think that it would have been much easier and less stressful (or wouldn't it?) to keep a particular diet for treatment related reasons rather than prevention purposes even though I appreciate their health very much undoubtedly.
Let me get to the point here. My husband and I have made the conscious decision that we do not want to introduce foods that contain added sugar in them in the first years of our children (and also give them as little exposure to processed foods as possible we decided on). Is this unfair in anyway? Is this harmful? Are they going to be unhappy or disadvantaged because of this decision? Is this do-able? In which ways is this decision likely to affect their development physically, emotionally and socially? How does this suit our personalities and lifestyles? and so forth were some of the questions that came to mind after brainstorming about it and we talked through it, we read about it, we talked to people and observed others etc. As I have mentioned before, we knowingly made the decision that they were not to be introduced some certain types of foods that we believe do not promote a healthy lifestyle or healthy habits.
We have made sure from the beginning that our loved ones and all the other closed family and friends are aware of our decision and we have been very lucky for having supportive people around us overall. There have been times and situations when some people may not quite agree with us but it will not stop them from respecting our wishes on this matter. So, we have had almost no problem in this regard when it comes down to most people around us.
I know we have been lucky in this sense because I have witnessed and heard of many people where even very close family members would get offended or not respect similar wishes of other parents and it would cause some unneeded tension on both sides.
However, I still find it very frustrating when I see people and especially professionals such as coaches, teachers, trainers, carers and alike offer our kids lollies etc or make us feel uncomfortable because of our decision or even when they were informed of our decision at the beginning making our children think they are excluded from the rest of the group.
It really frustrates me because I really do believe in what I am doing in this sense but even more importantly perhaps, it makes me think how it would have been if my children had some certain conditions that prevented them from the consumption of particular foods. I am sure there are many people whose children are unfortunately in particular strict diets due to their health conditions and I don't know if their kids or themselves too made feel this way intentionally or not. For example, are their kids', say, swimming trainer too gives every other child a lolly or a bar of chocolate in the group when they celebrate some achievement while your child is just looking at them (because the trainer was informed that your child has a sugar-free diet, he gives the other kids a lolly in front of your child while skipping yours)? I know it is very unfair on your child and I must admit I have the luxury to allow my children to break the rule at that particular moment regardless of how I may be feeling about it as it is not life threatening in our case but WHAT IF IT WAS? What if my child couldn't take it because it was a 'life-threatening' food for him? Do we have to always explain to people why he is not allowed certain foods? Do I have to feel as if I am such a mother who is disadvantaging her child because of her 'over the top' rules? Does my child have to have a condition to be taken seriously when it comes to his diet requirements? How come it is this normal that people can offer especially kids, who are not at the age of having strong 'self-discipline', foods or other things that are known and categorised 'unhealthy' universally (I know the amount is extremely important here too but in general I am talking about foods that are not considered to be 'healthy' and/or natural)?.
Just recently, I have had a chat with an educator originally from Canada. She came to Australia quite a few years ago as a migrant, she said. She mentioned that when she came here years ago, she had some challenges in this sense as well. She had some young children with her at the time. She said that in Canada, sugary foods aren't big (or weren't big at the time) and even if there is a party and they have cakes, it would be perhaps a fruit cake and it would have no icing on it whatsoever. However, after coming to Australia, she had the urge that she had to come up with rules for her children as they were exposed to so much sugar here. She said that even at school her daughter was given some of that type of food which she formally complained about.
I am normally pretty comfortable with the decisions that Mr. Hubby and I make as we generally take things seriously especially if it involves kids and we generally put lots of thought in it before going ahead with something. We may be taking things a bit too seriously perhaps but this is only because we believe that this is the best for them. However, with this particular topic especially, I don't think I am doing anything wrong but I still feel frustrated and stressed when my child is left out too obviously or when I get the looks etc.
I don't think we are alone in the world taking this path with our children's diet and feeling this way but I still feel as if we come from a different universe and we are not understood well on this matter.