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Nutrition and single moms, part 2 of 2

Robyn Openshaw - Aug 01, 2011 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Even though I am doing the very best I can for my kids’ health, even though I run a health-oriented web site and write books and speak all over the U.S., full time……even though there is no junk food in my house….I cannot control everything my children eat.

“Controlling” what the kids eat is a really great idea when kids are young. It is a word mostly excised from your vocabulary, as the kids get older. I control the food that I purchase and make, still. I don’t buy junk food. But “control” what teenagers eat away from home? No can do.

I certainly will not compete for “Most Favored Parent Status” (ask any divorced parent about that game, which I refuse to play) by turning into Pop-Tart Mom.

These are ways I remain happy despite the fact that I sometimes have to watch my children being fed a meal of Skittles and hamburgers. Despite that fact that I can’t influence their father and his wife to stop feeding them harmful chemicals.

I remind myself that I have done the best I could, and I have educated my kids about what I know. This dramatically increases the likelihood that they’ll have a healthy lifestyle for life despite living in a polarized “food schizophrenia” now. My one child who does not live with me comes home while she’s at athletic camps or tryouts, so I can feed her well, for energy and peak performance. This is initiated by her, not me.

I take some satisfaction in knowing that, while they tell me they often don’t have healthy options when they’re not with me, and I know not all their choices are good ones, on the other hand, they know what’s good and bad and they make better choices than the rest of America. All four of my kids love salad. They all love fruit. They are not afraid of green food.

(That said? Last night a friend brought us his “raw soup.” It was pea pods, red peppers, cucumbers, and avocado blended smooth. I thought it was fine. The kids didn’t like it but the oldest two just ate it. The third gave me some grief.

The fourth? He wailed and sobbed, he gagged, choked, begged, pretended to puke, rolled his eyes back in his head, claimed he was going to die, begged for salt, then cycled through all those tactics again. Ridiculous. I told him to get up and walk away, several times, but he wanted the whole-wheat zucchini bread his sister was making, so he stuck it out. And he curled up in my lap, after, and cried as if he was made to eat a bowl of wiggling termites on Fear Factor.

I tell you this so you’re reminded that I’m a Mom In the Trenches, too. Makes for some good laughs later, though! The drama could win an Oscar. This boy of mine is officially the most emotional human I’ve ever known.)

The point is, the rewards aren’t all being achieved right now.   It pays off over a lifetime, to teach our kids while they’re in our home, what good nutrition is. And then practice it right in front of them, making good choices ourselves.

After all, I had wonderful examples in my parents and my maternal grandparents. And yet I spent the entire decade of my 20’s eating mostly junk.

I have observed that my friends who are the most open minded to what I feed them when they come over (sprouted, living, raw stuff) always tell me how their moms baked homemade whole-wheat everything, and juiced carrots and celery or made green drinks, and shopped at a health food store.

And my friends who won’t try anything and make funny faces because they say “I have a strong gag reflex!” or whatever? They’re universally the ones who were raised on the Standard American Diet.

Some of the benefits of my children having a good example, a lot of childhood education, and far better nutrition than other kids in America transcend the nutrition they get today. They will be adults who aren’t squeamish and avoidant of natural colors (like green!) and textures and new foods.   Flax crackers and baby-turnip stir-fry and edamame for a snack and raw-vegetable soup will seem like home, instead of crazy-people food.

These are ways, mostly self-talk, that I find helps me not hyperventilate about things I cannot do anything about related to my kids’ nutrition. Gone are the days that I can take alternative treats to the pre-school teacher and ask the children’s organization at church not to feed my kids candy. My kids will make their own way and make their own choices. Moving more gracefully, rather than less so, into that space of parenting teens and young adults, helps me let go and allows them to learn from experience.

If you have tips, I’m sure some single moms would appreciate more of them!

Posted in: Relationships

15 thoughts on “Nutrition and single moms, part 2 of 2”

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  1. Anonymous says:


    Thanks again for sharing. Your son sounds a lot like mine whenever I try and get him to eat something healthy. Aren’t they a joy? Truly they are though! Being able to set a good example for them and provide nutritious options is the best defense we have for them although it may not truly manifest itself in their lives until much later. The small moments and comments that we do get to witness like when your 16 year old son says:”One of the things I love about being home with you mom is I get to have a nice drink of alkaline water there’s nothing like it. And you do have better food options than dad, all he has is candy and popsicles and not the good fruit kind but the yucky HFCS ones.” are real joys in life that let you know that you are doing something right and give you hope for their future.

    Thank you for being real and letting us know that you too struggle with life and kids and all just like the rest of us. We’re all in this together and together we can continue to make a difference, one example at a time. Thank you for your great example.

  2. Loved reading this! It’s pretty motivating because it makes this feel like this can be done in the real world and if I’m not perfect I’m not alone. It’s too bad that it’s such an issue between you and your ex. But I guess if he doesn’t believe it makes a difference then it’s hard to sell. I know my husband will never change how he feels about meat and whey protein (he body builds) but he is with me on most of the ideas and that helps. It’s a little give and take. I really love hearing about your real world. I finally found somewhere in your old posts what you guys for sure try to do on a daily basis (the green smoothie, the kefir, the salad) and it makes the 12 steps seem even more achievable because getting a few basics as a must, really helps build towards doing the rest most of the time.

    I don’t have teens so I don’t have tips…and I’m not single so I really can’t fathom those hardships. But I actually did do a rewards system for my 3 year old to get him to drink the smoothies. (maybe I have written this here before??) I drew circles on the calendar for one weeks worth of Green Smoothies so that every day he could color in the circle and at the end his reward would be a trip to the park with just Mom. No Daddy or baby brother….just us to play and have a little date. He thought that was the greatest thing (which surprised me honestly LOL – he’s a Daddy’s boy) and we just did that this morning. OH and he’s been drinking them for weeks now with no protest. In fact he completely forgot about the park date. His biggest reward from them though is a more instant one. We told him that “I bet if you drink your green smoothie that you could lift Mom and Dad right up off their feet because they make you super strong!” So after he finishes his GS he always runs over and “lifts” one of us up! He loves that!

    So maybe that’s more for people with little ones.

    I’m not gonna lie…pretty nervous for teens! LOL!

    But good luck in the battle. They say you reap the most rewards of your hard efforts with your children when they’ve grown and/or they have their own children. And their bodies will crave the nutrition as they get older.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You were put in your children’s lives for a reason. You’ve given them the most valuable gift any mother can (in my opinion) and that is correct knowledge. And if they go astray, they will have knowledge there to help them back, instead of blundering around in the dark for years like my husband and I have done try and solve his health problems. He’s 29 with colon issues, skin growths indicative of melanoma, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, reverse cycling sleep patterns, and multiple food sensitivities. We’ve gotten the thyroid under control at least.

    All of this happened because he had a father who didn’t care what his kids ate and a mother who used junk food as an escape and a substitute for healthy family relationships. As a child, my husband ate out several times a week, had meat three times a day (did I mention my MIL thinks that this qualifies as “sparingly”?), ate every processed food you can think of, and had almost no raw fruits and vegetables in his diet. He used to drink an entire gallon of milk each day, in addition to eating cheese and ice cream. Your kids have someone who cares enough to teach them correct principles and feed them good food. They will have a leg up on the rest of us!

    The fact that you live in the real world means that you can succor others through their trials. It doesn’t make your trials any easier or any less painful, just know that you are making a difference.

    D and C 64:33- Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing Robyn. With my oldest girl almost 15 and my oldest boy about to turn 12 I have started noticing for a while now that I can’t always control what goes in their mouth. I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t always be able to give their Sunday school teachers a note that they can’t have the treats they bring and that I would bring theirs. 😉 But it’s still kind of hard to not feel like all my hard work and good example is getting undone by our Standard American Diet Culture. I hate it I have worked so hard to make our diet fun and as “unwierd” as possible but it still is really hard to compete.

    I have to keep telling myself that they will one day move away and have to make their own choices! They will more then likely marry someone that doesn’t feel the same way as I do about health! That I have taught them and they have a huge understanding and head start that most of the World doesn’t in terms of a healthy diet. I have worked really hard to be a good example and that is huge!

    It helps to hear that I’m not alone in my feelings. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts are so helpful!!!!

    This is off the subject but have you seen this article?

    My sister emailed me the link I know it’s probably more of the same stuff that has been going on for a long time but I would love to know your thoughts about it and what the best thing to do is. Thanks so much!!!!


  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robyn

    Totally off the subject… What do we raw/whole foodies use for deodorant? I love putting all this wonderful nutrious, yummy stuff in my body but dislike putting all that yucky store bought deodorant in my pores… Can you help? Thanks so much…


    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Marie, I’ve heard that it doesn’t work for others (my daughter thinks it doesn’t work) but a crystal stick works brilliantly for me. You can also use coconut oil!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Marie-I’ve tried a lot of different things including the crystal stick and coconut oil – unfortunately, nothing worked until I saw a youtube video on taking a small amount of baking soda and water to make a paste and applying that. Works like a charm!

  7. I think this 2-day post is just as important for every parent trying to feed their kids right not just the single parents. I am married and my husband supports better eating but it is ALL left up to ME to feed the kids and ourselves healthy. Plus when the kids get around the grandparents and such, well I have had to relinquish some of my “control”. It really made me feel better to know I am not alone in my struggles of feeling horrible when others show love to my kids by feeding them no so great foods. I am far from perfect as I am still trying to change my own habits. But totally agree that with a good foundation to our children, they are leaps and bounds ahead of those kids that think all food comes from a grocery store. Thanks for all your info Robyn!

  8. Anonymous says:

    well written and good to know

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing Robyn. It’s encouraging to be reminded that in the long term the efforts we make now can help our children in the long term make good decisions. Being ‘in the trenches’ can feel so crazy when at every meal there is someone rejecting something I’ve made. It gets tiring ‘meal after meal’ …sometimes it feels like I’ll never get a win. So thanks again.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am in a different position. We ate mostly healthy foods when my children were growing up. Two of my children continue to try to eat healthy, one does not. Her children are growing up on chicken nuggets and frozen burritos. It is frustrating to see what she is feeding them, but I really have no control over it. When the kids come over, I serve healthy foods that the kids will like, and have said, “Grandma doesn’t do chicken nuggets”. Knowing what the long term effects of eating those foods are, it is really scary to think about their physical and emotional future.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Karen, remember the “hosts of heaven?” One-third. My mom raised 8 kids on virtually 100% whole foods, and alternatives to drugs when anyone was ill. She has one child who eschews anything but medical, and eats baloney-on-white bread and candy bars for lunch. He’s in terrible health. It’s hard, huh. I can predict which of my kids will learn the easy way, and which will learn the hard way.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Marie, My favorite is La Vanilla. You can get it at sephora. My next fav is from Origins. The spray one.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Robyn and everyone. I’ll try and see what works. Have a great day and thanks again for all your great imput.


  13. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the information on deodorants. I have a related issue. I struggle with a different source of offensive odor, purple burps.

    I try to time my brocoli & onion stir frys for evening so as not to ‘offend’ at work. Eating probiotic foods 3x day for the last 3 months, but still struggle.

    Any solutions out there?

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