Food Wars

(58 Posts)
VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 09:04:08

I have a fantastic childminder (+ assistants) who do an amazing job of looking after my DS. I’m always impressed by all the activities and learning they do and know that he is in safe hands, but there is one thing that has become a bit of an issue… food.

I’m vegetarian (he’s 90% veggie as my husband isn’t) and to me making sure he eats a healthy diet is just as important as anything else. So I have been making him breakfast, lunch and dinner which he takes along with him.

I know that they would prefer if he ate the same as the other children, but at the risk of sounding like a food snob (honestly I’m not!) I don’t think that they give them particularly healthy options. When I pick him up I see the other kids eating a lot of red meat, star shaped potato things, chocolate, you get the picture….

I'm not saying that they never prepare healthy meals but I also see a lot of processed 'kiddie' food. The other thing I have noticed is that if the kids don’t want to eat vegetables or salad with their meal then they aren’t made to. I’m lucky that at the moment he absolutely loves vegetables, has a great appetite and eats whatever I give him, but I would be concerned if he follows their eating habits that he would then become fussy too.

I’ve had lots of awkward conversations with them about food before but one of the assistants keeps dropping in comments about him not eating his food properly as he is looking at what the other children are eating and wanting the same. The last thing that I want is for him to grow up feeling different but even more so I don’t want him growing up eating what they do!

I don’t feel like I am draconian, I don’t mind when he is older (he's only 10 months) if he has sweets/cakes/crisps at birthday parties or the odd Maccy D’s as a treat I just don’t want these foods being a regular part of his diet.

I feel like I have made my position on it clear and I’m finding it frustrating that they are still bringing up the topic. I would never offend them by telling them I don’t think the food they give the other children is healthy but being tactful obviously isn’t working either.

In all other ways they are fabulous and I am really lucky to have got a space with them so I don’t want to upset anyone.

Am I being unreasonable expecting them to give him something different? As I am providing the food myself I don’t think so, but would welcome your thoughts….

And how do I approach the situation without offending anyone???


PandaFeet Tue 18-Mar-14 09:10:49

The other thing I have noticed is that if the kids don’t want to eat vegetables or salad with their meal then they aren’t made to.

So they are being offered vegetables, the food mustnt be very unhealthy then. Processed food isn't great, I agree, but there's nothing unhealthy about red meat. If you choose not to eat it that's fine, and if you don't want your son to eat it, that's also fine. But unprocessed red meat is not unhealthy food.

Your issue is that they are not forced to eat things they don't like. Well, forcing a child to eat is making a drama out of mealtime and is only going to make them eat less, not more.

I am afraid YABU.

imonlydancing Tue 18-Mar-14 09:28:59

I think YANBU in principle, but you do have to understand that as he gets older he will want what the other children are having and cannot be 'made' to eat anything. If you keep up the good work at home then he will eventually make those choices himself. My DS will happily choose vegetables over anything else but he is still allowed the odd unhealthy treat!

MissV1 Tue 18-Mar-14 09:33:36

You are paying for a service so think you have every right to ask that your son is fed what you want him to eat. Especially if he is happy with the meal choices you are making for him I don't see a problem!

Sirzy Tue 18-Mar-14 09:36:05

Am I being unreasonable expecting them to give him something different? Yes

You have already said that they are offering vegatables and salad. I am not sure what your issue with them offering red meat is. The occasional potato shape or other processed thing won't cause any issues really as part of a balanced diet.

Also worth remembering that your sons tastes will change many times over the years anyway so although he may eat well now it most likely won't last. Infact when DS was that age he quite liked the odd fish finger or chicken nugget - he is 4 now and would rather starve than eat either!

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 09:37:15

Sorry, I disagree I don't think gammon or sausages (processed red meat) with potato stars or waffles with no salad or vegetables is a healthy balanced meal. So yes, I think that's unhealthy and I would make them eat some kind of fruit/veg/salad with it!

I understand your sentiment that you can't make mealtimes a battle ground but if you don't teach/encourage your children to make healthy food choices then they never will...

What's the point of cooking healthy food if they don't have to eat it?

Sirzy Tue 18-Mar-14 09:38:38

What's the point of cooking healthy food if they don't have to eat it?

You can't force a child to eat something they don't want/like - not unless you want to create much bigger food issues.

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 09:42:26

You can't force a child to eat something they don't want/like - not unless you want to create much bigger food issues.

So would you just allow your child to continue eating just meat and potatoes? Surely you would encourage them to try other fruit/veg/salad until you found something they liked?

Sirzy Tue 18-Mar-14 09:43:32

You keep offering things. You don't force them to eat them.

Sirzy Tue 18-Mar-14 09:43:59

And it's not the childminders place to create food battles by forcing them to eat

Catswiththumbs Tue 18-Mar-14 09:46:18

Sausage and gammon isn't red meat?

Catswiththumbs Tue 18-Mar-14 09:50:08

As an aside it's an overall balanced diet that is important, each individual meal doesn't need to be "perfect ". It is better that he has protein and fat in his diet, his nutritional needs as a child are different to that of an adult.

ilovesooty Tue 18-Mar-14 09:50:17

If you've already decided you're not BU why did you bother asking?

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 09:50:42

I haven't suggested physically forcing food on a child but would I expect them to try a bit before they decide they don't want it...? Absolutely!

If kids turn down food out of habit and don't even have to put it on their plate how will they ever know if their tastes change?

I 100% believe that there needs to be some fruit/veg/salad in a dinner even if it's hidden, blended into a sauce, given as fruit in a pudding... there are ways of doing it without mentally scarring your child.

A diet based on just meat and processed cartoon shaped potatoes isn't doing anyone any favours...

Preciousbane Tue 18-Mar-14 09:51:47

The problem here is that he will want what the others are having and if anything as he becomes more aware then it will become even harder.

You can only offer dc food but you can't make them eat it. My DS eats almost everything and is 13. The only other friend of his who will eat almost anything like him was raised in a similar way to my DS. Serve whatever and make no comment whatsoever on the food. Feed them the same as adults and eat at the same time as the adults. Some dc have serious food issues that are very complex I really feel for their parents.

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 09:56:46

If you've already decided you're not BU why did you bother asking?

Because I am interested in what other people think, it doesn't mean I have to change my mind!

Also you do get useful advice like the last post from Preciousbane - thank you!

imonlydancing Tue 18-Mar-14 09:59:06

I think they only become fussy eaters if NEVER offered lots of choices. My friends daughter has only ever had the type of unhealthy food you describe and my friends say she will simply not try anything else. I know this to be false as at my house she cracks on with vegetables with no fuss and will ask for more.

Just keep offering good choices at home. Maybe make lunch and a bit of dinner for him yourself but concede on breakfast. They surely aren't giving red meat at breakfast confused

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:00:59

Thank you PreciousBane imonlydancing nice to see some constructive comments on here smile

Marylou62 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:02:16

I posted much earlier but lost it...I said that as XCM, a nanny and a Mother, I didn't think YABU. You have every right to feed your child the food you want him to eat. He looks at what the other children eat??!! So what...If in the future he refuses to eat his own, then maybe you will have a rethink. The assistants comments would p* me off and I would have a talk with the CM. I think too much is being made of this. But at the same time, I have had a fussy eater who wouldn't touch veg or fruit...she literally gagged....and my last charge was the worst eater you can encourage as much as you like...I did...but if they won't eat it, they won't eat it. Just consider yourself lucky that your LO is such a good eater.

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:10:24

Thanks guys, I'm not adverse to hearing opinions that are different to mine, I just thought the whole point of these forums is to help other mums and was hoping for some advice!

So... I have decided that whilst eating fruit and veg is non-negotiable for me I will chill out a bit. I am still going to pack him healthy foods each day but if he wants to have the occasional potato star alongside his dinner that's fine.

Marylou62 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:12:10

Veggie... My own DD (who was fed the same as her brother) NEVER EVER tried any of the fruit/veg that was offered. Just refused!! Mouth clamped shut. I did hide some in gravy, pasta sauces etc but I didn't worry..At 20, her favourite meal is veg soup. My last charge refused anything from a spoon and BLW was terrible...not even put to mouth, straight to whilst I'm with you on most things..not all children will even try. And Imonly.... both these children were like this from first weaning I can assure you.

Marylou62 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:20:16

I know Veggie....I am relatively new to MN and cant believe how nasty some of these conversations can get...But as I have been in childcare for over 30 years, I think that if you have a good eater (both my boys were) it is hard when you don' DD! I think some mums can be a bit smug...not anyone here!!...and not realize that some fussy eaters are born like that, not made...I can assure you all that I offered fruit/veg at all meals. She just refused!

Nocomet Tue 18-Mar-14 10:21:03

Sorry, either you are a SAHM or you accept your DC won't necessarily have his food intake controlled at CM, nursery or later at school exactly as you might wish. That's life.

My infuriating DD2 ate all sorts of things at nursery that the fussy madam wouldn't eat at home, so it works both ways.

kentishgirl Tue 18-Mar-14 10:30:32

YABU only in that it's going to get increasingly difficult for the childminder to keep giving your son different food to all the other children. You are setting her - and your son - up for there to be friction at every meal time. Your son's diet is not a matter of health or religion where she has to try to fit in around it. I do understand what you mean though, you want him to eat a different type of food, freshly prepared rather than processed, more veggies/fruit etc as a normal expected part of the diet. That's great for him. But putting the childminder in a rather impossible position.
I think you either have to accept your childminder's catering, or a find a new childminder who caters in the way you like.

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:34:33

Marylou - I am new to Mumsnet and this is my first post. Think I might of been better posting in a forum about food than on here - my mistake! Thanks for your advice smile

Nocomet - Totally agree with you. Unfortunately I don't have the option of not working and admit I have found it hard not having things exactly how I would want them. I guess you have to pick your battles, but him eating a healthy diet isn't something I want to compromise on sad

So... moving the discussion on. We've established I'm a control freak veggie food snob smile and whilst I have partially seen the light and will be relaxing the rules I still need to have the discussion about him eating the food that I prepare rather than the same meals as the other kids (however, I will let him snack on bits of the same stuff if it makes him/them happy).

So how do I approach the conversation without offending anyone?

P.S Thanks for the education of red meat guys - as a veggie to me anything other than chicken and fish I would of automatically classed as red meat!

LookingThroughTheFog Tue 18-Mar-14 10:40:23

So how do I approach the conversation without offending anyone?

'Hi, I've given some more thought to the food issues, and I really would like you to continue serving the food I prepare to DS. If we get to a point where he's refusing to eat it, then we can discuss again, but at the moment, as long as he's eating the food, I prefer to stick to what we're doing.'

sixlive Tue 18-Mar-14 10:42:24

Get a nanny or find another childminder where everybody brings their own food or a nursery serving organic healthy meals. Your poor child is going to suffer more by not eating what the others eat than by having an odd sausage. The same will happen eat school what will you do then, a packed lunch I presume, childrens parties?

You are telling the childminder her food isn't good enough for your child, most people would be offended.

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Tue 18-Mar-14 10:43:01

Your son has breakfast, lunch AND dinner there?

meerschweinchen Tue 18-Mar-14 10:44:57

I think there's two issues here. I totally agree with previous posters that you can't make a child eat. And the more pressure you put on, the more likely it is to become an issue. All you can do is offer healthy food, and let them decide how much or how little they eat. I try to avoid saying anything at all at mealtimes, and it's hard! But the second issue is healthy food. I have to agree that processed meat and potato shapes is not very healthy! I wouldn't really want mine eating that very often ( I'm veggie too, for the record) I would hope that the childminder is offering a healthy, balanced diet. You do mention some fruit and veg, so the children are obviously given some good food, but I'd worry about how much. If the processed stuff is just very occasional, then fine, I wouldn't make an issue of it. If it's several times a week, I would! Also your son is 10 months. I would have thought he'd just concentrate on his own food at that age. Obviously he'll watch the older ones eat, but I can't see that he can reason enough yet to question the fairness of it all! And no 10 month old needs chocolate in my view! I've got a bit less strict over sugar and stuff as mine get older. Once they're going to parties etc you're fighting a losing battle! But babies really don't need too much sugar and salt, so I would be a bit concerned.

TeacakeEater Tue 18-Mar-14 10:55:20

OP I agree with your views on food. Except for the veggie part!

ime these conversations about differences in what is seen as acceptable foods do offend. There is judgment going on in both directions.

Yes you are the client but the CMs are hinting - broadly- that they see the separate food as unreasonable.

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:55:46

InSpaceNoOneCanHearYouScream: Yes - He has breakfast when he is dropped off at 9am, lunch at 12 and dinner at 3.30pm before I pick him up at 4.30pm. I'm one of many mums that unfortunately has to work to afford the mortgage. Trust me, if I had the choice I would be at home doing arts and crafts and whipping up healthy vegetarian meals. Instead I am doing my best juggling work with being the best mummy I can - a tough task!

SixLive - I'm hoping it won't come to that as they are absolutely fabulous in every other way but... if anyone has any recommendations in the Reading area I would love to hear from you.

Meerschweinchen - Unfortunately it's most days that they are eating processed stuff sad I'm happy for him to eat party food when he is older... at a party... just not as part of his regular diet.

Lookingthroughthefog - Thank you smile

Going to have to log off until tonight as unfortunately life (ie work) is interfering with my mumsnetting.

Thank you all for your comments though (whether I agree with them or not) it's always good to get another opinion!

deakymom Tue 18-Mar-14 10:57:54

my son does not like meat prefers veg really he is 14 months how do you get a child to eat meat anyway?

Marylou62 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:59:49

Veggie...I went to visit a preschool where I used to volunteer, and all the children had their own lunch boxes with wildly different food!!! Youngest was just 2 so not long to wait... Not one of the children 'looked' lovingly at what the others were eating. This is getting ridiculous. I have childminded a vegan who's mum supplied all food...(and requested that I closely supervise them when out...which I did...willingly) she was a bit older but when my kids showed an interest in her food, I told them it was xs food. She did want the (best quality) sausages my DCs had but again said Mum doesn't want you to eat meat....No tantrums....You do not have to be a SAHM to want your DC to eat what you feel is important. He is your child and I would never have made an issue out of this.

TeacakeEater Tue 18-Mar-14 11:06:03

Yes MaryLou it's a shame the CMs have made an issue of it and I know CM who wouldn't mind OP's approach at all.

LatinForTelly Tue 18-Mar-14 11:14:55

I don't think you're being at all unreasonable.

It's ridiculous to suggest because you're not a SAHM, you can't make choices about your son's food whilst he is a baby, and when he is a toddler.

I agree with those who say, at 10 months, he is unlikely to be coveting someone else's sausages.

But yes, a compromise in the future could be to let him have one potato smiley or something with the food you prepare for him.

snowpink Tue 18-Mar-14 12:55:46

When my dc went to the childminder at 10 months he took food from home. For exactly the same reasons you describe. And I continued to do so until he was 2 I think. They probably gave him the odd fishfinger or chip but it wasn't his entire meal. But thankfully my childminder never made an issue out of it

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Tue 18-Mar-14 13:13:55

Not sure why you think I'm having a go at working mums, I work too! My point is, 3 meals in 6 hours is strange. Why can't he have breakfast at home at 7.30 and dinner at home at 5? confused

whois Tue 18-Mar-14 13:23:08

Your son's diet is not a matter of health or religion

Why should ethical considerations be less important than religious food rules?

Waltonswatcher1 Tue 18-Mar-14 13:35:01

Firstly I think he could eat at home for at least one meal . Timing seems to allow for it or are you spending a lot if time travelling ?
You have every right to feed him your food . Surely that's a basic principal ?
We eat only organic and I would not like my children eating anything other than free range . We dont eat processed kiddie food ever .That's my choice and they are my kids.
As for him looking at the other kids meals , this will just be a phase and he will get used to it . Dd2 has serious allergies and at 10 mths the restrictions were no dairy nut wheat gluten egg soya seeds cocoa . She obviously had to get used to people around her eating different foods .
Stick to your principals .

If he's dropped off at 9 and picked up at 4.30, can't you give him breakfast and dinner at home?

I'm not vegetarian but I don't like processed foods either and so I can see your concern -- but I think you would find it easier to deal with if he was only having lunch and an afternoon snack there.

I do think you should start looking for another childminder. You're not necessarily being unreasonable, but I agree you're setting up a problem for down the road.

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 13:46:55

Apologies InSpace that's my own guilt about being a working mum coming through!

When he wakes up he doesn't want to eat straight away so it makes sense for him to have it there. I used to give him dinner when we got home but the CM asked if he could have it with the other children as he was watching them eat. Personally I would rather he just had a snack and then sits down and enjoys a meal with me at home but I agreed with their request and it does seem to work for him. I try and share a bit of fruit or avocado later on so we get to eat something together.

I'm not totally convinced that at 10 months old he is that aware/concerned that the other kids are eating something different, but maybe I am wrong....

The CM confided in me that when she was Ofsted inspected the only thing they pulled her up on was that some of the food options weren't that healthy. The difficult situation is that I think she is great in every other way and don't want to offend her, especially as I saw how personally she took the feedback from Ofsted, but from what I see I would tend to agree. tricky situation!

Lunchbreak is coming to end will log back on later!

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 18-Mar-14 13:47:42

That level of processed food would bother me too tbh.

No way would my ten month old have been allowed gammon or sausages due to salt content. And habits are soon learnt at that age what they are exposed to matters. They are too young to explain to that that's what they eat there and that's what u eat at home.

And yes I would want my dd encouraged to try. Not forced. Absolutely not forced but there are ways to encourage without making dinner a battle ground.

memememum Tue 18-Mar-14 13:48:05

I think it's ok if you're paying for the service and they haven't said that it's against their policy to do it.

Like someone else said, it's likely that at some point your DC will become a bit more fussy or willful about food. When that happens, if you still have to have him somewhere where you don't like the food, maybe you could just provide one of the meals, or how about he gets to eat their food on Fridays as a treat/reward?

As for not offending anyone if you need to speak to them about it, IMHO we should all just try and be nice and straight forward and matter of fact in order for important information to be passed on clearly and so we don't drive ourselves crazy wondering if the message got through.

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 18-Mar-14 13:51:25

And I used to be pretty uptight about food I have relaxed a lot now but would still have issues with what is being provided.

Mn seems to be full of parents who's kids eat a tom of food so other people feeding them is a huge help a d they never struggle to have them eat again at home after large heals else where.

My dd on the other hand, it is very noticeable in her behaviour and appearance if her diet hasn't been great for a few days.

Whereisegg Tue 18-Mar-14 14:03:17

AIBU is full of threads where grandparents look after their dgc for free, and the op feels that the gp feed their dc too many treats/won't discipline them/has the tv on all day/won't stick to the dcs routine.
All replies are that as the care is free the op should suck it up, or pay someone so they can 'be in charge'.

Well you are paying op, and people are still saying yabu.
I don't think you are, keep sending in his meals and don't worry too much.

Could you send a snack for 3:30 though, and have dinner at home?

KellyElly Tue 18-Mar-14 14:24:54

If he's dropped off at 9 and picked up at 4.30, can't you give him breakfast and dinner at home? Or at least breakfast?

KellyElly Tue 18-Mar-14 14:26:07

Could you send a snack for 3:30 though, and have dinner at home? Good idea. Do all the other kids eat at 3.30pm? Seems very early for dinner.

parakeet Tue 18-Mar-14 14:44:13

Advice from NHS paediatricians and dieticians is never to "force" children to eat any food.

My daughter was quite fussy when she was young, but I never made an issue out of it, said "Just leave it" and allowed her to fill up on bread and butter if necessary (but nothing nicer than that). Now (8 years old) her repertoire is slowly but surely increasing every year.

zirca Tue 18-Mar-14 14:50:21

Why not just find a different childminder who serves food you approve of?

I would ask them to just give him a snack at 3.30. That is really early for dinner anyway, seems a bit weird. If he's having something different anyway, surely doesn't matter if it's a proper dinner or some veggies for snacking? Then you can eat dinner together, which is nice.

I also doubt a 10 month old is THAT aware of what's going on food-wise.

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 15:31:28

I think they time dinner for 3.30pm as the older kids have just come back from school and are hungry then - there's a mixture of ages and I guess they want to have one sit down time. I may revert back to giving him dinner at home and just providing a snack for that time. I don't really want to change childminder if I can avoid it as the learning activities they do with him are great and on the whole I'm really happy, it's just the food that's an issue. I'll speak to them again tonight - wish me luck!

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 18-Mar-14 15:34:24

Good luck smile

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Tue 18-Mar-14 17:49:46

No problem at all VeggieMum8
Good luck smile

Whereisegg Tue 18-Mar-14 18:07:27

Good luck!
You are saving them money surely?

littledrummergirl Tue 18-Mar-14 18:26:58

I have a friend who always sent her toddlers to nursery with their own snacks.
When they were invited to parties, sweets offered around they were the greediest, grabiest ones there. They werent allowed these foods at home, now they are at secondary and get to make their own choices about food they seem to eat a lot more crap junk food than their friends.

Perhaps you could let him have a couple of potato stars and a piece of fruit at 3.30 and then give him his dinner at home at around 5.00/5.30?

I don't think YABU at all but I'm the "food snob" hmm in my family.

Teaching a child good, healthy eating habits from a young age is no bad thing. And it sounds like he has the occasional treat so that's fine!

VeggieMum8 Tue 18-Mar-14 18:42:32

Thanks guys. Food talk didn't happen as arrived at CM's to a find poorly baby and a potential chicken pox outbreak. Little man in bed already and I am about to do the same... have a feeling we're in for a long night!

InSpaceNooneCanHearYouScream Tue 18-Mar-14 20:13:01

Ooh dear.... Good luck again!

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