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To Tell Friend To Feed Her Child Properly

(441 Posts)
ChilledBee Sun 15-Sep-19 18:04:59

I have a friend with a four year old son. He's very small for his age and her HV and GP have made suggestions about how to change this. She isn't vegan but eats meat seldom and only shops organic and local. She makes these dishes which are foreign type stews with things like aubergine and squash (I eat/cook these things too) and will sprinkle some feta or another cheese on top. Or something with spinach and lentils. It isn't awful but for an acquired taste. My DH says it Italy seems like a side dish and he is waiting for the joint of slow cooked meat and some potatoes to accompany it. Any meat is organic/free range butcher ordered so very expensive and rarely eaten. She is very much into ethical shopping/farming/eating.

The trouble is, when I see the vegetables,they are often old (she gets a lot of home grown produce from her own allotment or that of friends) so I imagine the nutrients are depleted. Her son barely eats any of the food she gives him and she does worry about that because he's not only small but has some vitamin deficiencies too. But she thinks it has something else going on rather then he just doesn't like the food she makes.

Last week, she had to unfortunately stay in hospital for several days (10) with her mother who was touch and go. Her son stayed with me and even though it was something completely unfamiliar, he settled in well. She gave no dietary instructions so I just fed him like I do my own kids (3,3 and 1) on home cooked meals cooked from scratch (spaghetti bolognese,shepherds pie, burgers and chips) and he wolfed it down. In fact, the first day he came he had seconds and ice cream and jelly afterwards (pudding isn't routine in our house). I am embarrassed to say that I weighed him that night and the day before he went home. He gained 5lbs! My DH felt that I was out of order weighing him but I have to say that seeing him eat like that made me want to prove something I'd suspected all along.

I want to tell her that her son badly needs to eat food he likes and is healthy for a child. She often refers to childhood obesity but I think she underestimates the amount of fat and carbs a growing child needs. I know she feels quite isolated by her HV and GP who have sort of threatened her with SS (she says) but won't refer her for the medical investigations she wants. Her sister had 'failure to thrive' and was later found to have cerebral palsy which contributed to this but it isn't a hereditary condition which could explain her son's small stature. My DH doesn't think she is mentally stable. I think she is precious at best.

Would you say something?

popehilarious Sun 15-Sep-19 18:07:20

What's vegan got to do with it? Sounds like he eats dairy (cheese) and protein? Is it portion size or balance (carbs, protein etc) you are worried about?

Chitarra Sun 15-Sep-19 18:08:31

I would be really wary of getting too involved here, but I think you could try to say a few things in a non-judgemental way, eg "your DS loves spag bol doesn't he? He had second helpings last night!" or similar.

Motherinlawsdung Sun 15-Sep-19 18:08:58

YABU. You seem to think chips, burgers, ice cream and jelly are nutritious foods for children.
They are not.
Mind your own business.

PooWillyBumBum Sun 15-Sep-19 18:09:31

I would stay quiet. Her menu sounds much healthier than yours, it just sounds like she’s struggling in her approach to getting him to eat properly. Yes under eating isn’t healthy but neither is a diet of red meat and white carbs...

rosedream Sun 15-Sep-19 18:10:15

I think the only thing you can do is say how well, how much and what he ate at yours. Just say he wasn't a picky eater when you had him.
Perhaps invite them for tea so she can see for herself.
It's hard to get the balance right. Me and my big mouth would probably say above. But that's me.

Soubriquet Sun 15-Sep-19 18:10:36

Oh dear

That’s difficult....

Could you not say in a nice way about how much of a good boy he was and he ate nicely at the dinner table?

But mix it in with behaved well and got ready for bed well etc so it’s not obvious your pointing out his food

Hopefully she may go “did he really? What did he eat?”

StockTakeFucks Sun 15-Sep-19 18:10:42

Just tell her how much he enjoyed some of the meals at your house and that he asked for seconds etc. If she really and truly cares and she's desperate she'll give them a go even if she does a veggie version of them. Maybe suggest a few recipes as well with both versions.

Try having them over for dinner one night so she can see for herself?

If there is no change then her principles come above the wellbeing of her son and the professionals involved are right to be worried.

99problemsandjust1appt Sun 15-Sep-19 18:11:00

foreign type stews

Sorry you lost me there OP🤣🤣 I can just imagine someone from the seventies saying that

titchy Sun 15-Sep-19 18:12:14

His diet sounds lovely to me. Spinach and lentils are great! Burger and chips, not so great tbh. And yes pretty shit of you to weigh the kid to prove a point - do you really think gaining half a stone in a week is healthy for a small child?

Good on you for having him for a week though.

JanuaryBirthdays Sun 15-Sep-19 18:12:18

I don't think YABU to think this at all, but saying it to his mother would be. I'm sure he'll begin to vocalise his preferences when he gets older and see all the other options out there.

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 15-Sep-19 18:13:45

I'm willing to bet that 'depleted' vegetables have more vitamins than spaghetti bolognese, chips, burgers, ice cream and jelly.

BarbariansMum Sun 15-Sep-19 18:14:00

I'd say something but I'd go in very gently, far more so than you did in the OP. And from the calorie/fats/carbs angle, not the type of food. Millions of very healthy children worldwide are raised on a very similar diet. I personally wouldnt feed a child predominantly on the foods you give yours, each to their own.

popehilarious Sun 15-Sep-19 18:17:21

Both my kids loved a lightly spiced lentil dhal when weaning, they don't know it's "foreign" and it's one if the healthiest things they can have. Salty red meat isn't the default!
That saidv if he's genuinely eating loads at yours and not at theirs I might ask what dishes she's tried him on and mention what he ate at yours.she can make lentil cottage pie, chick pea burgers etc if she wants to reduce meat.

StockTakeFucks Sun 15-Sep-19 18:19:23

* His diet sounds lovely to me.*

* I'm willing to bet that 'depleted' vegetables have more vitamins than spaghetti bolognese, chips, burgers, ice cream and jelly.*

That's irrelevant if the kid doesn't like it,doesn't eat enough to get all the lovely nutrients and vitamins and is tiny enough and lacking in certain vitamins to have GP and HV concerned.

converseandjeans Sun 15-Sep-19 18:19:33

YANBU as he is clearly not thriving. There is probably a middle ground. It sounds like he isn't eating any protein or much in the way of carbohydrates.
It sounds like GP and HV are concerned. So I think you are right to try and help. He's being deprived of a decent diet. So starved essentially as he's not eating.

joystir59 Sun 15-Sep-19 18:19:36

I'd leave your house and move in with your friend. Your diet sounds on track for obesity. Your friend is feeding her child much healthier food.

converseandjeans Sun 15-Sep-19 18:20:40

joy but it's only healthy if he eats it? He's obviously not eating enough to thrive.

WindsweptEgret Sun 15-Sep-19 18:21:05

How small is he? Do you know how tall he is and if he is a healthy weight for his height? My child was around the 5th centile for BMI at age 4 but an average height and perfectly healthy. I'm sure he would have gained weight on meat, pasta, potato, and puddings, but that doesn't make them healthy. Children need a variety of vegetables too.

WindsweptEgret Sun 15-Sep-19 18:23:31

The weight gain could be partially due to constipation too, if he is used to foods with more fibre.

Paddingtonthebear Sun 15-Sep-19 18:25:57

Her food sounds very healthy indeed but... if her child eats barely any of the food she makes at home and is underweight and underdeveloped then that’s a problem. I would casually mention the dinners he seemed to like at your house. He doesn’t have to eat meat but it sounds like she needs to rethink her meals

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 15-Sep-19 18:26:35

And water retention from all the extra salt!

You don't gain 5 lbs of healthy weight in a week!

SimonJT Sun 15-Sep-19 18:28:24

None of what you fed him sounds particularly nutritious, did he get his five a day on the burger and chip day.

I’m genuinely amazed at what you think sounds foreign, do you have a very limited diet?

My son isn’t a huge eater, he isn’t encouraged to finish his meals, just to eat what he can. However when he eats at someone elses house he eats everything he is given, no matter the portion size, the point where someone being ‘helpful’ made him ill and vomit as he felt unable to say no to eating seconds.

StockTakeFucks Sun 15-Sep-19 18:29:51

* but won't refer her for the medical investigations she wants.*

And if it is just down to diet(which seems likely) then if she gets her way her small child will be subjected to pointless medical tests and investigations.

converseandjeans Sun 15-Sep-19 18:33:37

Shepherds pie & bolognese are healthy aren't they? At least he ate them too.
He barely eats, has vitamin deficiencies and the HV and GP are concerned.
However if she won't listen to them will she take your advice?
Someone needs to stick up for him.

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