Nutrition and single moms, part 1 of 2

Today I’m going to tell some personal things about my divorce and raising children with a divorced co-parent who has radically different nutrition opinions than a GSG does.

This topic is something I normally don’t talk about. If it has the potential to offend you, please don’t read it. I write about it today because we get a lot of emails from people whose spouses sabotage their nutrition efforts. We also get a lot of email from parents who are divorced and concerned about what happens at the other parent’s house.

I am living in that “real world” too.

First, let me ask this: who are the people most open-minded about eating healthy?

Answer: Usually they’re the people whose mamas fed them healthy food when they were little. This should give you comfort if you’re doing pretty well, but you’re raising kids and you can’t control everything they eat.

Last year, I went into mediation with my ex-husband. I had my $250/hr. attorney, he had his, and a $250/hr. mediator’s bill was split down the middle. I thought it was stupid. I wanted to just sit down and talk it out ourselves. But he didn’t want to. So, several thousand dollars later…..

I lost big on just one issue.

I’d begged him to eliminate monosodium glutamate from my son’s diet because my son starting having occasional headaches accompanied by vision problems when we got divorced and he went to his dad’s one night a week and every other weekend. Generally I don’t ask what they’re fed there, because I don’t want to know. (There’s not a darn thing I can do about it.) Stepmom gives Tennyson Tylenol for the headache, and feeds my older son Ibuprofen for his shoulder after pitching a long game.

But even with my “don’t ask” policy, sometimes I see these things, and it’s painful. At ball games, I see my children fed snack-shack hamburgers and Skittles as a meal. It makes me feel like all my hard work is being undone. It makes me feel like I’ve failed to protect my children. I’ve educated myself far past the ability to stick my head in the sand about the consequences of that diet, even for the 15% of the time they spend eating it. Some of the consequences of eating that way are plain to the naked eye. My children’s father has gained about 50 lbs. since our divorce less than 3 years ago. I cannot help but worry about the effect on my kids of the fast food and junk food.

I have to wall it off and think about the fact that I’m blessed to have full custody and therefore I get to provide the food 85% of the time. I have a litany of other positives I go through in my mind, to survive it. I’ll tell you those tomorrow.

My daughters will sometimes walk over to my house from their dad and his wife’s house (they live five minutes away on foot) and ask for a green smoothie, or Hot Pink, some fruit, or veggies and hummus, or whatever I have on hand. A few of the kids have reported that there often aren’t healthy options to eat at their dad’s. At first he did green smoothies, homemade kefir, and a salad as the biggest thing on the plate. But six months post-divorce, especially after he remarried, those habits were gone for good.

You get the picture: our values and habits in the areas of nutrition and how to deal with health issues are very different.

I had learned that the kids were being fed MSG in Top Ramen and other foods.

In mediation, my children’s father refused to consider eliminating that deadly neurotoxin from his home–or even from Tennyson’s diet.

I had brought a letter to mediation from a pediatrician recommending elimination of MSG from Tennyson’s diet. The letter was accompanied by a half-inch-thick stack of that doctor’s research on the harm that can result from eating foods with MSG. Including headaches.

I won, in mediation, in almost all the issues I had brought, all of which were about my children’s welfare and best interests. But my children’s father was intractable about eliminating MSG, even under pressure from a skilled mediator.

To this day, I don’t know why feeding my son monosodium glutamate was and is important to him. I have had to wall it off in my mind because it’s so painful to me. Painful that I have no choice, every other weekend, about my kids being fed boxed mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, and/or neurotoxins that I feel are deadly — but which he feels are necessary to make them “normal.”

My point? How to survive it? That’s tomorrow.

(But p.s. My son has not complained of a headache in the 8 months since our mediation. I hope that even though he was not legally compelled to, my son’s father may have cut MSG out. Sometimes in the situation single moms are in, prayer is the only thing left! And even research bears out that it can be effective!)

11 thoughts on “Nutrition and single moms, part 1 of 2

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  1. Thank you for opening up to us. I know the struggles I have with my spouse trying to get our family and him to eat right…it’s hard! I can only imagine the struggles you and others face. You are an awesome mom!

  2. If you have time, I have a question that I haven’t been able to find the answer for online.

    I’ve been trying to start drinking a green smoothie daily. Every time I get to just about the third day of drinking them, my mouth starts getting raw when I drink one. (Fyi, I’m not putting in citrus ingredients, which is what I would normally think would cause this problem. Usually it’s a variety of greens, coconut water, banannas, and blueberries.)

    Have you ever heard of this happening before, and do you know what might be causing it?

  3. You’re right, Robyn – prayer IS so powerful. And rather than being a case of ‘All we/I can do now is pray’ I usually feel more like ‘Well, the first, best thing we can do is pray. And the middle thing, and the last thing.’ It’s powerful, it’s only a focused thought away, it transcends much. Keep praying, Robyn.

  4. My husband doesn’t understand why we “fight” about something like bread. Um well amongst the first three ingredients is HFCS, then yeast is on there, and all these other chemicals. I tell him that I won’t budge on HFCS because I love him and it makes him crave things that are BAD for him. It is an on-going struggle. I hate it and I wish he could/would see the “light” in what I am trying to do. My son thinks chicken nuggets are the only food group but luckily I get him to drink green smoothies. I am trying to weed out our bad habits because I don’t want my children to combat illness and weight issues like their father and I have. My daughter (raised on greensmoothie breast milk) drinks green smoothies like they’re going out of style and eats all my vegan food. I have a belief that I will get my son on track one day while he is still young. One small step at a time.

  5. Robyn, I know what you’re going through, and thanks so much for writing on this critical topic! There’s very little information online about how to handle this problem.

    Due to school and distance issues, my 11-year-old boy lives with his dad during the week and is with me on the weekends. One of the reasons we divorced is over the issue of nutrition. The dad is one of those poor folks who believes the ketchup on a Big Mac counts as a vegetable, and he’s not interested in learning anything different. If the FDA says it’s OK for us, then where’s the problem, right?

    I recently heard from my son that he’s being made to take fluoride pills at night because their RO water treatment filters it out of the tap water. I asked, why do you think your system does that??? But dad heard from the dentist that if you don’t get “enough” fluoride, all your teeth will decay and fall out. If a doctor says it’s true, that’s all the proof he needs. Never mind the evidence I present to the contrary. I’m not a doctor, so my information can’t be valid, apparently.

    So Robyn, I look forward to your entry tomorrow on how you deal with this emotionally. All I can do (without bad-talking his dad, which I understand is detrimental to my son’s emotional health) is present alternative information while he’s here, and hope that it somehow sinks in.

    One ray of hope is this: I was raised by a hippie health food mom who shopped at co-ops and knew way ahead of time how important whole-food nutrition is. In fact, I was the only kid in my neighborhood who had a whole-wheat birthday cake every year. (OK, I have some trauma around that. 🙂 When I finally “got free” from her influence and went off to college, I narrowed my nutritional plan to two food groups: beer and pizza, in that order. I gained 25 pounds and developed some weird blood pressure problem that had me passing out after a flight of stairs. Man, I felt and looked like crap.

    Here’s the good news: now, 25 years later, I’m a natural health researcher and a passionate and committed servant of anyone who asks for my input on nutritional or health issues. My mom’s lessons stayed with me through those turbulent years, and although I got off track now and then, her love and persistence paid off.

    So will ours as we continue to deliver this important information to our children in a compassionate and loving way. Stay strong! My suggestion: don’t meet resistance with more resistance, but trust that your message will get through. Children are very sensitive creatures, and instinctively lean toward messages delivered with love and a high vibration. Encourage them to feel the contrast in themselves between different foods and ideas, and they’ll often correct course naturally.

    Much love to Robyn and all you GSG readers! Keep up the good work! 🙂

  6. Robyn,

    Thanks for sharing. I know it’s not easy to. I am going through the very same thing and hearing from you gives me great peace and comfort. I cannot control what my children eat when they are at their dad’s (every other weekend and one week night a week) either. He won’t even listen to any of my suggestions for healthier eating and completely tunes out and even becomes combative when I mention eliminating MSG and antibiotics etc. My only comfort lies in the fact that I have the kids at home with me most of the time and hopefully have instilled in them a better way and pray they’ll choose it when they can.

    I look forward to your blog tomorrow cause I am always looking for better ways to cope with this craziness. I hope we can meet up again sometime and share stories and strengths but if not, please know that having your blog to read and living the GSG way of life has been the greatest blessing and strength to me during the most difficult and painful time of my life along of course with prayer. Thank you for your wisdom, your openess, and your sweet spirit.

  7. Hi Robyn,

    I’m seriously thinking of purchasing your “Twelve Steps to Wholefoods Manual”. I’ve been doing Green Smoothies for two years now and wouldn’t be without them. However, I live in Scotland, UK and was wondering if you ship the manual to the UK? Also, if so, would there be an extra shipping charge for this?

    I realise I could purchase the “downloadable” version but my preference is the manual.

    Keep up your amazing work. I love your blog and look forward to reading it every day.

    Anne

  8. Thanks for sharing Robyn. From reading your part about the Kiddos walking back to their full time home (your home) and requesting the green smoothie or Hot Pink, that screams volumes that you’ve done amazing in what you continue to teach them. They know your food and treats are much healthier and are more satisfying. Maybe they know it’s awkward to turn down each and every meal/snack and not eat at all over at his place. Your an amazing person and educator and I enjoy reading each and everything you share with us.

  9. Robyn, I just had a thought that maybe one of the reason’s your Ex is being so stubborn in mediation is because he might be a bit jealous of your success and the public attention you receive. Your Ex could be interpreting this as, “She thinks she so much better than everyone else!” He could also be feeling that you are a threat to his lifestyle. Both of these feelings just churn up lots of animosity which leads to stubbornness. If and when you need to mediate again, you can discuss these possibilities with your mediator and brainstorm some ideas to work around the issues (or even bring them out into the open, which is sometimes very helpful).

    That was long winded! Sorry :). I have a background in mediation and can never seem to stay out of such topics. 🙂

  10. Many of us have similar issues. After I married, I gained a lot of weight. I lost over 75 pounds since the divorce. My ex has almost doubled his weight. He’s on disability for weight related issues. Once when we were talking about food choices, he said that to him, food was love. Something he learned growing up. Restauranting was their family sport. That’s tough programming to overcome. At 500 +/- pounds, he spends a lot of time not feeling well & is in & out of the hospital. At this point, I don’t need to say much to my children. Look and learn, eating patterns & health, you can see where food choices can take you, make an informed choice.

  11. Thank you for speaking so candidly about your divorce and the food struggle.
    I just started green smoothies myself. You’re amazing
    Praying for your kids to have a NON msg existence!!!!

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