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When Grandma Comes to Spoil the Kids, part 1 of 3

Robyn Openshaw - Jul 28, 2010 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

This is edited for length, from “Momof3.” It was a response to one of my recent blog postings and I re-post it here.

I often get long emails like this from readers, asking what to do about the older generation’s visits to our children, filled with junk-food “spoiling.” Parents feel that their hard work to provide good nutrition is being un-done by Grandma.

Today, read her comments. Tomorrow, read my reply:

“I needed a pep talk! The in-laws will be staying for 8 DAYS.

I wish I was making it up when I say my mom in law (when she came after the last baby birth) feeds my kids chocolate chip cookies FOR BREAKFAST. (I came down from nursing baby and sleepless night and the kids had milk and cookies sitting on the table at 7:00 am. Grandma just smiled and said, “I’m spoiling them.”) Maceys giant ice cream cones FOR DINNER!

I asked if she would buy spinach at the store and lemons for a wonderful whole wheat pasta spinach dish. She came home with a chocolate ice cream kong cone at 4:30 pm and Cheetohs.

What adult thinks that is a good dinner for a 2- and 3-year old? Again, she smiled and said, “Grandma is spoiling them, and I’m not that hungry either.” I was not amused. I confronted her about it and she just said, “Grandma spoiled them.”

She also bribes them w/ Smarties to ‘be good’ at the store, I looked over at my son in church and he had a mouthful of Skittles and was munching on ‘fruit by the foot’. Grandma had a list of fast food places w/ takeout every night for dinner and brought it home, then tried to give my babies pop and “diet juice” with artificial sweeteners to wash it down because “diet juice” is “healthy.”

Plus, I guess, my freezer full homemade smoothie bars did not seem to be a good summer treat because grandma decided they needed a huge gigantic bag of popsicles instead. (I had made smoothie bars before going to the hospital and pointed out there were lots in the freezer along with all my other healthy snacks.)

I will get through this. I can do it. The kids WILL thank me someday. I KNOW I am fighting the good fight! I can do this even if my in laws (not to be rude, they are good good people and loving grandparents but they are morbidly obese) will try to sabotage me where I live. In my own home with my babies. I WILL be strong. I will not cave. I quietly will go about my ways and quietly do my thing with my babies and self and hubby and the world will stay right. I will do right by my family. I will do it as kindly as possible, but I will be kind but firm. Any suggestions?

What happens when I’m outnumbered 3 to 1? (Hubby and parents against me? especially when hubby’s mom is making all hubby’s ‘favorites?’) When it’s not just pop culture trying to sway our children…but loved ones too? The kids see the Twizzlers, soda, Captain Crunch, potato chips, Cheetos, big pink Grandma cookies, pimento olive bologna loaf, white bread, big greasy Costco muffins, hot dogs, M&M’s, milk, fake peanut butter, Cream of Chicken soup casseroles. This is what my in-laws buy and make and eat at our house. Of course that is what my kids want instead too.

It doesn’t work to have meals and menus ready and food bought and planned. They SHOP for ALL their favorites when they don’t find them in my cupboards because they won’t eat what I make. (They say it ‘messes with their digestion’ to eat whole grains, legumes, greens, and so much fruit and veggies.)

Even when I plan it all out, “cookie salad” (nothing salad about it) gets whipped up or something like it and stuck on the table. Unfortunately, if it’s in the house (or in Grandma’s purse) it finds its way into my children. It’s such a sporadic encounter because they live out of state that it’s difficult to just go off about how EVERYTHING they buy and eat for the 8 days is just unacceptable to feed my kids.

But, the BIG no-no’s for me Grandma tries to feed to them on a large scale: processed lunch meat, artificial sweeteners, soda, milk and ooooodles of sugar constantly. I don’t want to feel like the bad guy for 8 days, but they really are over the top with their terrible eating habits while staying at my house and feeding my children. More pep talks please! I’m in serious anxiety mode. Family pressure is intense!”

Posted in: Relationships, Whole Food

47 thoughts on “When Grandma Comes to Spoil the Kids, part 1 of 3”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    WOW! If she were any sort of respectful guest, she would eat what you eat. I would make my husband talk to her, and he should support your decisions. If they must, send them all out to eat and make food for you and your kids. Talk to your kids explain why you eat the way you do, and Grandma is not a bad person, she just has bad eating habits. I have to say, my kids Grandma (my Mother) eats in much the same way and when she offers to take my kids out for burgers they tell her (at 4 & 5 yrs old) their tummies don’t feel good when they eat fast food (they’ve learned from experience). When she visits she eats out, when we visit her, we bring our own food, but she is respectful of our choice. Many people have a false sense of how to earn love, “spoiling” kids with any objects is really not the way. Tell her how it is, she may not ever want to visit again – hey, problem solved : )

  2. Anonymous says:

    All I can say is it’s time to fight the fight! You aren’t showing any love to your in-laws by being silent about this. Not just in defense of your kids health… but for their own health’s sake too! If you care about them you need to teach them all you know and set those boundaries. I’ve been watching “Losing it with Jillian” with my husband since it was on and I always find myself saying, “HA!” to him when she talks about health and how you are actually SHOWING love by talking to people about how bad the food our society thinks is normal is for them! (He was raised in a family that ate horribly and suffered severe acne during High School and IBS… all of which are gone now that I’ve helped him see the light) It is not an easy road though. But of all the battles to pick in life, this is a VERY IMPORTANT ONE in my opinion. This is the one battle I choose to fight. And what’s great is that my in-laws and relatives all know that about me and our family and they respect it now. They see how my kids rarely get sick and how happy and healthy we all are. Good luck!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is a hard issue, one I struggle with the most.

    For me I have just decided I can only control what my kids eat in my home, so I try really hard to do that. When they are at others homes, I try to not freak out about the crap they eat. We talk a lot about waht is healthy and what isn’t and try to go from there. I know my daughter will routinely turn down soda at birthday parties, and I figure that is a start.

    In this situation I would maybe kindly sit them down and tell them how important it is that you maintain control in your home. To lessen the blow maybe say I will let you have 1 day where you are able to “spoil” them, but that is it. From then on they will eat healthy food that I approve of. When you are their house I feel it is another matter, but while they are at yours, I think it only fair to put your foot down and tell them how things are run at your home.

    People really hold onto their food habits and aren’t very willing to change. Discuss with your husband before hand how important this is to you. Help him see it is your home. If they were bringing drugs into your home he wouldn’t allow that. You wouldn’t allow that. You would require that they stay somewhere else. In my opinion prepackaged chemical laden food that has been manipulated to be addictive is the exact same. You have every right to protect your kids and home from these substances. If you In-laws can’t live by that then let them know they will need to eat on their own, elsewhere, but are welcome to spend time together doing other activities.

    Wow, after typing that last paragraph I am rethinking my whole don’t worry about what they eat when they are at others homes…

  4. Wow, I will never complain about my inlaws AGAIN!

    I think half your battle would be won if you got hubby on board.

    But the bottom line is, the only one that’s gonna change is you. So outsmart em.

    Prepare to have an all out junk fest one or two nights of the 8 night visit and explain to your children, your HUBBY and your inlaws…we can have these special nights, but I need a compromise on the other days. Your inlaws are NOT indulging those little busy bodies, they are ABUSING them…huge difference! If they’re ok with contributing to their grandchidrens risk of obesity, disease, sluggishness blah blah blah, you’re not and thats where you draw the line!

    If all else fails supply them with phone numbers of local hotels, and have your family visit them at their room hee hee!

    I seriously can’t believe your MIL can look you in the eye and say “grandmas spoiling them?” No she’s not she’s killing them! AND doesn’t she see how they act after a few days of junkfood nonstop? I don’t know about your kids, but I can see a substantial difference in my children from moods, to activities to sleep patterns!

    Good luck…I don’t envy you!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have to say that I am appalled at this woman’s husband’s behavior. He is acting like an immature mama’s boy to put his mother’s wishes above his wife’s. If he truly loves and respects his wife he will work out a compromise, even if he doesn’t completely see eye to eye with her. My husband and I have had tons of disagreements as we’ve worked through his pornography and food addictions, lived with his in-laws for almost three years (he’s also a recovering mama’s boy), had a child with spina bifida, gone through a period of his being inactive in church, worked through my anxiety and depression, worked through the sexual abuse he went through as a kid, and been through several failed business ventures. The thing that has kept us together is respect for each other and a desire to do what’s best for each other. I can’t believe this “man” doesn’t have the guts to say, “Mom, I love you. But as a guest in our house I want you to respect my wife’s wishes concerning our kids’ diet.”

  6. Anonymous says:

    that’s my inlaw/hubby story too. I feel your pain.

    I just got back from 8 days at a family reunion. I had decided there was no hope to have my 4 kids eat any differently than the other 15 kids. So now my 4 kids and husband that ate the reunion food all week are soooooo sick with the worst colds ever, it actually seems to be several different things all at once, its been a week and the end isn’t in sight. Within 24 hours of being home, my son who has been off asthma medicine for 11 months was gasping for air, I was digging in storage for the nebulizer thinking “what have I done!” It was scary. My husband and mother looked at me apologetically and said that they are starting to understand why I do what I do. Live and learn I guess.

    Are the other kids from the reunion sick too? Of course they are.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am a “Grandmommie”….this goes back to keeping one of my first grandchildren…they had her on a schedule …I said bring me the schedule as I would be keeping her (in my home) for several days. I did not want my grandchild to suffer unnecessarily when she returned home because I wanted to do things my way. I feel we raised our children ….this is their time.

    We can spoil a little but not to their detriment. This is their health.

    Grand parents should respect the parent….their rules….they are Your children. After all you are not hurting them but protecting them!

    Take care

  8. Anonymous says:

    Amen Lynn! I, too, am a Grammy. I see what the other grandmother feeds the only grandson (3yrs old). Total Crap! He loves veggies and fruit when he is home or at my house, in fact, after spending the day with his Grandma, he will often eat just fruit or just vegetables for his dinner. I think it’s his body trying to make up for all the junk he’s ingested that day!

    I feel like I have to be very careful about what I give him, just to counteract his time with Grandma. My spoiling, therefore, is not food centered!

  9. Anonymous says:

    This makes me feel a little better, though my own parents and in-laws are pretty bad about this, too.

    I just have to say, be grateful they live out of state! 8 days is a long time to have them there non-stop, but we see my in-laws many more days of the year than that, and it’s bad (nutritionally). My MIL does, however, try to honor my wishes. She just knows nothing about nutrition. She’d be a “diet juice is healthy” kind of lady. But she has learned to spoil my kids with other things. She gives them all sorts of junk – and while I don’t really like junk around my house, at least it never enters their bodies. She gives them:

    sunglasses, goggles, beach balls, crafts, toothbrushes (my favorite), dumb toys that break after 10 min., movies, etc. I prefer all that. She still gives them junk food, but giving her other ideas what to give them, helps her show her love in less damaging ways.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been told that I’m going to be raising kids that will turn in to “fat” adults…because I’m restricting their diet so much now…they will go crazy and eat what ever they want then they get out of the house. It’s frusterating when I’m really not restricting them completely…I’m teaching my 4 kids to read lables and to eat just 1 serving size…to only have 2 sweet treats a day (not 4 in a row like at grandmas)…when they are offered soo many sweets they just stop and look at me like “what will mom think”…I hate this..because I just want them to learn to make a wise choice…and it’s just going to take them getting older and being disciplined within themselves…I feel like all i can do right now is just be a good example and teach them at home and wait to see what the outcome is. So frusterating.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wow. this is very intense. Who is the mom here? I understand they are really helping you out… but how much entitlement does that give her?

    I feel you need to take your power back… sit them ALL down in a room, and say what is really on your mind… including to the children… get all the objections everyone has out in the open, and see where you land. Can’t get any worse.

    Really…. that is just disgusting to be giving them all that processed food for breakfast and dinner. Unimaginable – and very ignorant! Also…. someone else suggested few days junk, few days off… maybe they will feel the difference for themselves – which of course is the ideal here.

    Good Luck with it!

  12. I am also a grandmother but I’m the one in the family who eats the green smoothies-lol. My one daughter has 2 kids ages 4 and 6 and I hate to see the way they eat! I know when mom works it’s hard to eat healthy and I guess seeing them eat anything is better than having them refuse to eat (my 6 year old grandson was very underweight as a baby and toddler.)

    My other daughter has a 3 year old and a 6 month old and she does a lot better, limiting the sugar and fixing healthier meals.

    When the grandkids come to my house, I have snacks like sunflower seeds and raisins, or fruit or crackers and cheese. They are happy with that and I feel that plying them with cookies is just trying to “buy” their affection.

    As a parent, grandmother and mother-in-law, I just try to keep my mouth shut and not be critical of any decisions that the kids make now that they are adults.

    If the grandparents live out of town, you’re lucky!

  13. grateful to receive all your emails Robyn…this one is great to hear everyone’s experiences out there…(although I’m not a mom yet but hubby and I kept away from junks, sodas, processed foods, most adulterated foods, etc…) Sometimes we have to lead what we believe and remind our families NOT TO EAT…especially High GI foods, full lists of additive foods!

    Your email just reminded me of today’s friend’s visit at home. She told me that she didn’t buy any Easter Eggs for her grand daughter instead bought ticket and watched Shriek on a 3D screen with her! Love to hear it really, at least one granny is making a difference at a time!

  14. If she refuses to go by what you ask IN YOUR OWN HOME, you will have to a) never invite her to help with baby again, or b) prepare all the meals if you invite her.

    I can understand her refusing in her home, but your home is your territory and it would certainly be nice to have hubby on board.

  15. I’m also a Grancy and have the privilege of keeping our 3 and 1 yr old grnadchildren a few times a year as they live 7 hours away. We are the healthier ones, we farm and grow most of our food. We also eat, drink and enjoy raw milk products- full fat. Our smothies are made with kefir ( homemade) and we don’t use sugar at all, some honey, raw maple syrup or a bit of stevia.

    Our grandbabies also get cod liver oil. their mom is a busy student and works as a nanny. She and her hubby know they eat terrible and have a goal of eating as healthy as they feed their kids by the time the kids will know better.;o)

    I figure she covers a lot of mistakes by giving them clean, raw milk to drink.

    Now great grandma is a different story and we have to watch what she wants to offer the kiddos but she listens and will drink her Zero Coke and eat her cheetos after they go to bed ;o)

    Hang tough, your family is your domain, espeically where their health is concerned.

  16. Debrief and educate granny with several of the food movies that show the state of our food supply today and how it relates to health. Show her that her kind of love is exposing her grands to poison. Afterward, I would make her sign a contract that she understands the consequences of her actions and that she will only expose her grandchildren to foods you have approved. If she can’t, then you as a parent should opt-out of any unsupervised visits with granny if your children are more important that granny’s feelings.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Oy. I feel your pain. I am on REMOTE WORK LEAVE for five weeks and visiting my parents with my 5 and 6 year old. VERY similar experience.

    Since you “only” have 8 days with them – perhaps just SUCK IT UP and use it for motivation to increase your commitment when they leave.

    Over this month as I have seen each of my beautiful kids gain about 5 pounds each to their usual lean and perfect bodies – I continue to say to myself, “MIND LIKE WATER.” We will be back in Los Angeles soon and back to an incredibly more healthful life.

    I join in at happy hour with my mom each night – having a couple of glasses of wine – or beer – and I feel disgusting and horrible the next morning – and again – I say to myself – this is not FOREVER – just for now.

    And I make a gallon of greens and fruit in the vitamix and I continue.

    The hysterical thing is that my parents keep exclaiming how HEALTHY they eat. It is total cognitive dissonance.

    Perhaps leave amazing things around for them to read? Gerson therapy, raw diet lifestyle books??

    I’m 43 and perhaps the only thing that I have learned is that I can NOT change anyone. They have to “awake” and become cognizant to their own lifestyles.

    Unfortunately this DOES affect you and the kids. I know. And I also know it is only for a week.

    Hang in there, VENT like a crazy person – because – sista – we are all in this together and we are right there with you.

    Finally realize, you can run a bit of a detox for the household – hell – even burn the sage around the house – and begin the begin. A new day is coming tomorrow. Today we eat cookies and drink wine and embrace the love (AND DYSFUNCTION) that is family.

    I wrote to much, sorry.


  18. A note from the other side . . . A Grandma story.

    I’ve spent the last year and a half curing myself of cancer. On that journey I’ve developed an even more serious attitude about nutrition than I’ve had in the past.

    Some background first. I’ve been into natural, organic healthy eating practices nearly all my life. When I was in my early teens my father nearly died of a heart condition and the Doctors sent him home to die. My mother would have none of that and, with the help of a naturopath, proceeded to heal him and vector the lives of the rest of the family from then on. That was nearly fifty years ago and my dad just died a couple of years ago. Not bad for someone who was given months to live all those decades ago !

    When I was diagnosed with cancer my first action was to do research on what cancer is and then to study how to fix it. That was a year and a half ago. I’m well now and almost back to my “normal” life. Although I applied some allopathic treatments to the condition I also give credit for my cure, in large part, to adjusting my diet and becoming even more deliberate about what I put into my body than I had ever been before.

    One of the things that I incorporated was green smoothies. What healing elixers they are !

    OK, enough background. My “grandmother story” is this. When I go to visit with my grandkids I have exactly the opposite experience of the women complaining about the “junk food grandparents” visiting.
    I really can’t say anything about the quality of nutrition at their house – all I can do is try to teach by example. Their diets are very heavy on carbs, dairy, sugar and animal protein. While I’m there I eat a little of what’s served (focusing on what vegetables are available) in an effort to be social at the dinner table but I also incorporate as much of my dietary routine as possible while I’m traveling.

    I’ve been referred to as the “tree hugger, hippy, kook” when it comes to my dietary preferences and I don’t let that deter me. I offer my grandchildren tastes of the things I make ( they frequently wrinkle up their noses at the flavors just because they are different and I tell them so) but I make sure they are exposed to as many alternative choices as possible while I’m around them. For the most part the kids are good sports and always (thankfully) curious about why I eat the things I do.

    They see me taking vitamins and (again thankfully) they take them now too. The vitamins they are given could be a better qualiy but hey, I’ll take any gain I can get !

    My philosophy is this. If they see something other than their usual fare and have the opportunity to be exposed to other ideas regarding nutrition and health then I’ve done the best I can do. I just hope that the information sticks and perhaps if they are ever faced with a health challenge they will remember grandma’s approach to healing themselves.

    As far as dealing with the “junk food grandparents” goes my suggestion is this. Get up early enough in the morning to serve the children a nutritious breakfast so they won’t be hungry enough to eat the cookies grandma wants to serve them. Offer them healthy snacks often during the day – keep them filled up on the good stuff. If the grandparents sneak the kids out for an ice cream or other junk food it isn’t the end of the world. It could be a valuable object lesson for the kids. They will get how bad they feel after eating a load of sugar, if not when they are very young, surely by the time they are old enough to notice something like that.

    Meanwhile, enjoy the grandparents and focus on activities that don’t involve food. Keep the kids full of good nutrition, keep the grandparents busy doing non food activities. As far as junk being brought into the house, I have no qualms about sneaking it into the trash – outside so it can’t be retrieved ! “Hey, where are the toodle doodles?” “Gee, I don’t know, the dog must have eaten them. Maybe that’s why he’s been passed out on the floor all afternoon” He Hee . . .

    It’s all good !

    From the redheaded grandma

  19. The sad thing is that we all pay for other people’s ignorance. When the nuclear family suffers the blowback from compromised values, the only true recourse is to let people learn the hard way. Nobody can force anyone to believe a certain way. We can only be living examples of the Truth that we subscribe to. And, when it comes to food, religion, and politics, it happens to be quite personal.

    Personally, I would find your situation quite challenging. It would be best if the whole family could lovingly band together and write a consensual agreement. This agreement should reflect the disciplines and higher standards that serve the welfare of the greater whole, and possibly punitive measures if the rules are broken. Once the ultimatum has been made, everyone needs to be clear and wear that badge of honor with pride. They need to be firm in their resolution and rewarded as they stay the course.

  20. I’m a grandmother of 15. I firmly believe that decisions on what the children eat belong to their parents. I always ask permission from the parents of my grandchildren regarding treats and other things they eat. I certainly want these children to be healthy, so my efforts are in that direction. However, sadly the parents are less inclined to go the healthy direction, though they are improving as they hear other parents talking about healthy eating. I have observed that my adult grandchildren are far more health conscious than their parents. I bite my tongue and keep from saying too much, knowing full well that I’m not the only one out there teaching good, healthy eating. They’re catching on from others, which helps them notice and copy what I do. The older grandchildren seem much more eager to learn good health habits from me than my own children are/were. I find that I’m also learning good things from them.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Joy, I know your and your husband’s names. You are an author and celebrity and I’m honored you are on my blog. If you would email me,, I bet there are ways we could work together, maybe have you present at the GSG retreat next spring? thanks,


  21. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe in trying to control my kids’ food all of the time. They need to learn how to make good choices for themselves. However, I do point out that their behavior is better when they don’t eat sweets and they are now getting more in tune w/ their own bodies and when they eat junk, they feel sick. I point that out too. There are some immediate consequences to eating badly and the more sensitive your body becomes, the more severe the consequences become.

    I agree that you need to take a stand – especially in your own house and if they don’t respect you, then kindly ask them to leave. You don’t have to put up with that. Are they really helping you by staying there or is it making things worse? You don’t need that kind of stress when you are already tired and needing to take care of yourself and your new baby.

    Drink lots of Red Raspberry tea and smoothies and anything you can to help strengthen yourself w/ nutrition and get sleep. Then you can deal w/ your own children and not have to worry about the in-laws. I personally think 8 days is way too long! I can only handle mine and even my own parents about 3 days max.

    Good luck!

  22. Anonymous says:

    It doesn’t matter if one is a mother or a grand mother; either they get it or they don’t. When my daughters were little I made Betty Crocker cakes with yucky artificial frosting for them. I really didn’t know. Today I am so proud of my daughters for not following my unhealthy, artificial and poisonous tradition. And because I get it, it is easy to join them in their struggle to offer nutritious food to their children. I hope your parents aren’t there for too long because they probably take your need to feed your children with healthy food as a personal affront that they did something wrong. Maybe if you repeat how great they were and how much you love them and congratulate them on having raised a daughter who thinks for herself. Maybe you can ask them just to humor you and give them the opportunity to let them give their grandchild one special treat a day. And maybe they just don’t care and want to maintain the power. I am so sorry.

  23. Anonymous says:


    Grandma sounds a bit outta line. It’s too bad you don’t have other family members supporting you. If your pediatrician is supportive of you…could he/she write a letter outling the importance of your children’s nutritious diet? Perhaps your in laws, and hubby, too, would be more inclined to comply if it is “doctor’s orders”. Our situation is tweaked…I’m a vegan grandma and none of my children are vegan. When grandma comes to visit my grandchildren look for the apples I bring.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The problem is not your MIL. The problem is your husband. He needs to grow a backbone and stand with you.

    We faced this 16 years ago when I was expecting my first right at Christmas. Normally I host Christmas dinner, but since I was expecting at any moment, my in-laws hosted. 5 of them smoked, and they didn’t go outside.

    I was very concerned about the secondhand smoke. My DH and I talked about it and agreed that either a) my MIL would tell the smokers that they had to go outside for that one day or b) we would not be joining them for dinner.

    My DH talked to his mom. She was a wreck over it – not b/c she disagreed so much, but b/c she was afraid of a big family fight at Christmas. Shockingly, when she told them that this was the rule, not one person refused to come (although one or two made snarky comments on their way out into the cold to smoke).

    Now, years later, she respects us both for sticking to our guns. No one smokes in her house anymore; in fact, none of those 5 people still smoke. I can’t take any credit, but I like to think I helped plant a little seed. I don’t act like a princess making demands daily, but when something is this important I stand up and she knows I’m serious. It’s not just in-laws – I had to do this with my parents too over spanking.

    Your and your DH need to get on the same page, present a united front, and HE needs to talk to his mother. The rule should be that she feeds the kids the way you want in your house, or she can feel free to get a hotel room and have supervised visits with the kids. You may lose her help, but really, what kind of help is that?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Ladies, I wish I had your issues. Instead, my adult children and their spouses are the “villains”. I have to live with the fact that all seven of my grandchildren live with parents who make horrible food choices 24/7, not just one week out of the year. One grandchild was in a coma for three days after brain surgery, and they fed him donuts and chicken nuggets for his first meal. And stopped at a fast food restaurant on the way home after being released from the hospital, and gave him and his siblings cokes and cheeseburgers, etc. I understand your pain; it is terribly difficult to witness these abuses–but at least you do your best, and more importantly really understand what is good for your children. I pray that there are more parents like you. But please, stop making it sound like MIL’s and grandmothers are the bad guys; some of us are on your side. At the risk of already making this too long, no, I don’t have any solutions, except possibly silent prayer. Hopefully your children will get through these visits with their health intact, will grow up making good food choices, and still love their grandmother who wouldn’t feed them sugar, etc, etc. My children weren’t fed irresponsibly when they were young; I don’t know what happened when they left home. Or how they cannot see the damage they are doing to their precious children. I’ve been vocal in the past, it hasn’t made any difference. I’m now taking a page out of Joan’s book, and trying not to stir the pot, and hoping for the best.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I am a mom, grandmother and great grandmother, but I am the one who cares about food as does my daughter. My darling daughter in law and granddaughter are sugar junkies. I call the pantry the pantry from hell as there is nothing in it that I would eat. I get really upset about the great grands and the lack of meals and real food stuff. I have sent books, emailed info until I have just given up. One day when we were there one of the great grands crashed – turned out all she had to eat that day was a chocolate bar – this at 4 in the afternoon. I live in a different state. When I am there, I shop at the farmer’s market and feed everyone, but I am not there very often. Breaks my heart…..

  27. Anonymous says:

    I have experienced similar siuations with inlaws coming to visit, but I had an intense conversation with my DH first, so we were on the same page. HE spoke to his parents, and after that, they mostly asked me if they could buy a certain thing. I have also asked that they get things other than food. When they came to visit and HAD to have their caffeine sodas, DH asked them to keep them in the garage, instead of the kitchen, since we don’t consider them “food” at our house. Grandpa came home with some deserts, like a pie, a few times, and we mostly hid them until the kids were in bed and then tossed out the rest (after inlaw and DH had some). One thing I found important was to impress on them that junk food is not really a “treat” for my kids, because most of it was stuff they didn’t even know existed if inlaws didn’t bring it. I asked them to give them stuff the kids know and care about, like books, toys, or a movie.

    Recently, my MIL and two SIL’s came to visit and by now, they know junk food is an issue. I tried hard to have yummy healthy snacks on hand, but they lasted MAYBE 2 days before they had to make a run for junk food. They were respectful enough to keep it all in their bedroom, and this time they asked what they could get for the kids. They got them toys, which was kind.

    Back in the beginning, they were more skeptical with my way of living. Now, as the kids are older and they can see the difference between them and many of their cousins, they are more respectful. My DH was the last of 8 kids to marry, so I could see how things went with the other grandkids and prepared for a fight. Interestingly, it was the other uncles that were more of a problem. But they quickly knew it was going to get ugly if they messed with feeding MY kids stuff without my permission. I don’t mind having that reputation if it benefits my kids — and it HAS!

    If it were me, I would feel that having the inlaws over would be more of a stress than a “help” with a new baby, and would not go that route. I’d be so upset at having my home and family disrespected, that I’d be MORE wiped out than “helped”.

    Fortunately, my parents have been very respectful and while I know my kids will eat some things that I would not normally give them at home, I know they try to give them “clean” versions as much as possible. They might eat hot dogs, but they’ll be the uncured ones from the health food store on whole wheat buns. I can live with that, once in a while. But my mom has also helped them make healthy blender pancakes for breakfast. And last Thanksgiving, she made Robyn’s chocolate cake with the beets in it, She didn’t tell them what was in it until they’d eaten it and DS begged to make it at home and I told him he could — only if he made it EXACTLY the same way Grammy did. He immediately knew he’d been “had”! LOL

    It’s a tough thing, but whether it’s about food or other family decisions, if you don’t put down your foot about your right to have your lifestyle respected, you’ll be stressed out over it the rest of your life and there will be MORE contention than if you actually had it out and settled it.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Quote from Moyne: “I don’t mind having that reputation if it benefits my kids.”

      I agree entirely!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Kayt I too let my grandchildren try the things they will. I have a recipe for a wonderful pesto…it is very green …my grandchildren Love it! They ask…do you have any of that green stuff Grand-mommie?

    Also I teach a health class at our church…would love to know more abaout what you di on you cancer cure….we discuss cancer and cancer prevention in one of our lessons ….and I love to share testimonies. Thanks for any more info in advance.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I am a grandmother also and I think that it is your house and they should respect your wishes as to what the kids eat. A treat once in a great while(after consulting you) is not too bad but not all day long. You need to talk to your husband and he should talk to his parents. They can take the kids on short trips to the bookstore, park, etc.

  30. Wow! Yes, I totally concur with what others are saying in response to this email about fighting this battle and making it understood what your priorities are. If my in laws tried even bringing junk into my house, I would really be enraged and they would know it. Especially since they already know that eating well is my passion. At one point I sent an email specifically saying how I felt as a result of things said/done.

    Fortunately my in laws are very respectful and allow me to raise my family the way I choose. They also tend to choose pretty healthfully most of the time themselves. So I feel blessed now to have most of my opinions about food respected when so many others are saying that they are fighting a battle! Wow! I say establish clear agreements before you agree to let your in laws come over!

  31. Anonymous says:

    Wow, you guys have my sympathy….here I am way on the other side of the spectrum…I’m the Grams who eats healthy – it’s my daughter & family who eat all the junk food…and my fridge and cabinets are considered

    ‘suspect’ because all they contain is ‘good healthy stuff’… fruits, vegetables, whole grains…

    For a while my granddaughter was requesting that I make her smoothies (I use frozen berries & protein powder, flax oil etc) because she liked them so much, but when my daughter got wind of that I was asked to NOT give them to her…saying they were ‘too rich for her delicate system’ -(I think that translates to her lack of constipation after drinking them -perish forbid!)

    It frightens me to think what my grandkid’s insides will be like down the road…because I already am seeing the signs of disaster approaching (in the form of upset stomachs, digestive problems, etc) and feel powerless to stop it. To this family, ‘Grams knows nothing.’

    I’ve stopped saying anything, and just concentrate my efforts on making my health as good as it can be…I can only change myself, not anyone else…and I try to lead by example. Hopefully, that will be enough. (The kids are getting to the age where they can come and visit on their own – and they’ll be able to make choices on their own too – so if I only offer them good choices when they’re in my company, hopefully they’ll start to make wiser choices on their own, regardless of what anyone else says…at least that is my fervent wish for the future!)

  32. Anonymous says:

    Your in laws are selfish and only concerned about themselves. I am supposing the purpose of their visit is to assist you after having a baby. They are making your life more complicated and stressful. This is not assisting you in your recovering nor assisting to the well-being of a new baby. (Newborns always know what is up with mom.)

    You need to decided at what costs you are willing to have this senario continue. After open discussion with my extended family the costs became to high for me and we said we would not attend get togethers etc unless changes were made. That worked for a while and “dinners” were eliminated from the gatherings. Even now however after 25 years of eating differently and 19 years of marriage, extended family on both sides still have issues with the “way” we eat. My advice to you is to be true to yourself and decide what is most important to you and then act on that information.

    Best Wishes.

  33. Anonymous says:

    The issue you are having with you MIL is actually an issue with her self-confidence (and yours). She is obese and she gave up on herself believing that she could not change this. How is her health? How are her joints? I am sure she had diabetes and high blood pressure issues because of her own weight. People recreate their world again and again…and she is doing so with her grandkids. I’m sure she remembers the torture of being a heavy woman by others…but she is living emotionally via her food. She wants attention and wants to know she is loved. She can do it without food but seems most comfortable with the food because it is what she knows. If you don’t stand up to her (even if your husband doesn’t) you have to know that YOU are good enough…to be respected by them all. I have been where you are. I know it is possible to change things. You may go through some heated debates and heavy arguing but you need to be respected. If you are not, you have to ask yourself if you can continually put up with this and want to complain about it year after year because that is what will happen if you do nothing. Or you might realize that YOU are the one person in the whole wide world that is brave enough to stand up to your MIL and help her where she needs help the most. You were brought together for a reason. You are that person that can change things…if you believe in yourself. Visualize yourself being successful and be calm and loving yet firm in your approach. Let her know that she is loved and also let her know that she is stepping on hallowed ground in your own house. I wish you well.

  34. Anonymous says:

    If it were my family, I would use the visit as a family lesson to be discussed later after the grandparents leave in hopes for next time. Let the grandma do her thing while she is here.

    Then, it comes time to have the family sit down to talk, individually or together. As lovingly as possible, ask each member of the family what they felt when they had been eating grandma’s foods. Where they headachy, constipated, irritable, over-emotional or uncomfortable in any way physically? Eight days of a dietary change is long enough for many to feel differences in what their body wants to eat, whereas it may not be so clear if the healthy foods you provide are interspersed between grandma’s foods.

    Also, you will need to have the discussion about the grandparent’s obesity. Affirm your love for the grandparents, but make your family see how what you eat affects how your body is. Wouldn’t they like to remain at a healthy weight and have as few health problems as possible? Make sure that they see the connection between what people eat most of the time and how healthy and fit they are. I realize that this is touchy. You don’t want the children to think any less of their grandparents, but you want them to have some own inner guidance of their dietary preferences.

    So, I say let grandma overfeed them on junk for her visit, just this once. Like forcing a kid caught smoking a cigarette to smoke the whole pack to make him sick, the discomfort of such a rapid dietary change should do the trick.

    Next, you have that loving discussion with grandma before the next time she visits, so you can hopefully get her on your side to at least only spoil the children for at most one snack a day.

    I hope this helps,


  35. Anonymous says:

    Well in my experience you can’t change anybody but yourself and it’s certainly not worth alienating grandma from the grandkids, no matter how you feel about her. Besides you will end up being big bad wolf in the whole families eyes! So if you ask for help, except it graciously, and then go back to doing things your way when grandma goes back home. The kids won’t die from your mother-in-law’s spoiling, after all your husband somehow lived to adulthood. So grin and bear it and next time freeze healthy meals ahead, get hubby to take time off work, and tell grandma you’d love to see her for a visit, but you’ve got it covered.

  36. Anonymous says:

    As an odd twist, I am the aunt who gets the kids hooked on green smoothies and organic foods. I don’t think the parents like it (I got an email note the other day asking if I could bring some stuff over because their dad wouldn’t buy organic).

    But I remember getting spoiled (though not with food, per se) by my grandparents. I don’t think one week or weekend will kill anyone, even if it does slightly undermine Mom’s efforts. I wouldn’t make too much of a fuss—it might turn the kids further into junkfood monsters!

  37. Anonymous says:

    I read the word “addicting” repeatedly as one reason to avoid junk food with kids. This is the missing link when trying to understand what seems to be irrational behavior in the MIL. SHE is addicted to junk food. SHE cannot and will not change what she eats when she comes to your house for 8 hours, much less 8 days. She WILL be sick if she does – that is why all the visitors described above eventually make a junk food run. If you need or want people you love who have poor eating habits in your home, there are going to be challenges for all involved. The MIL described above uses “spoiling the grandchildren” to cover her addictions.

    This is not about the grandkids, this is about needing sugar and chocolate and soda 24/7 because she is addicted. I am a grandma who needs a diet pepsi about every 48 hours. I get in my car without the kids and go get it and drink it before I get back. I admire my daughter and her family and hope never to get in the way of what they are doing. When I watch her kids for extended periods of time I try to use what she has prepared, however I’m not as good at raw as she is, but I do stick to whole foods, not processed. I buy the kids toys or take them to a movie or play ball with them to spoil them.

    Lastly, please be careful of what you say to those you love as you try to create boundaries about your kids and food. The Bible teaches that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles the body, but what comes out of the mouth. People are more important than food.

  38. Anonymous says:

    My 91 year old mother-in-law just passed away. I have been reviewing the past 30+ years with her. My mother-in-law was a wonderful cook and frequently had lovely family meals…cool whip jello was a favorite. It gave our family sinus infections etc….and our brother in law owned an ice cream and candy factory! My husband and I didn’t use sugar and refined foods in our home. It seemed like a constant point of contention with the in laws.

    I had it to do over what would I do differently?

    Some things I would not do differently!

    My 30 year old daughter still doesn’t have any cavities! I was right that good nutrition pays off–especially from pregnancy to 3 years old! I was so careful with her and forbade ANY sugar believing it would give her a strong body and especially teeth. I was right as the mother to do so. Later in life as allergies surfaced I saw my intuition was right for her.

    As the other children came along (7 total) I sometimes lost my will to constantly tell people No. A few years ago a new sister-in -law came into the family with Celiac and I watched the family struggle to figure out her diet..and I watched her bring something she could eat to family gatherings and how she was gracious and firm about what she would and wouldn’t do…..If I had my years to do over I would have been like her and just not change my standards for othersregardless of their ‘position’ in my life…I would give the children more choices and less guilt about going off diet.

    The thing I hated the most was when relatives would lie to me about ingredients until after you had eaten . Then I got to deal with the kids allergies for many days…I drew the line on the lying and began just taking my own food to family gatherings.

    I would pay my kids a quarter when we got home for turning down ice cream…and I would buy their Halloween candy from them on Halloween night….I would make wonderful healthy stuff at home-the ingredients were so expensive I didn’t take them much to family gatherings–others didn’t appreciate the food and my budget couldn’t stretch to feed the multitude with our healthy food. It would have been helpful to have brainstormed about inexpensive treats to take to share–ones my kids could eat too.

    It is good to review all of this-I appreciate the blog thanks

  39. I’m not going to be vary popular for this post but here it goes! If it is someone that the children don’t see often let it go. Grandma is showing love the way she knows how and is comfortable with.

    Your eating goals are honorable. What your children do everyday is what makes or breaks them. You are setting the stage. If someone eats to much junk and that is not their normal way it feels miserable. They will eventually only nibble to appease grandma.

    I also think that what we eat feeds the bacteria we currently have in our GI tract and if this is a rare thing they won’t continue to want it.

    Do what you can do and don’t stress over a isolated incident.

  40. A few comments from a grandma herself. First of all, i am the one feeding the grandkids the healthy stuff. I’m up against my 3 daughters, spouses and their children. Daughters are now in their mid-30’s and i started eating this way only a few years ago. They all think i have a few loose screws. I’m all organic and about 70% RAW and I distill my own water to avert the ‘city’ water supply. Besides being a nurse that used to think she can fix anything or die trying, I have come to realize that being a little less uptight benefits all those involved.

    I have resolved to accept that which I cannot control, however, not without great angst and some loss of relationship closeness. I believe that first of all, many people are unaware that ‘big agriculture’ sponsored by ‘big-govt’ and ‘corporate america’ are dictating what we eat and how long we live.

    I try to educate people, having given away thousands of pieces of literature and dozens of films. if at that point, they choose the ‘dark side of food’, that remains their choice. One of my children just bought a $30,000 boat but tell me they cannot afford to feed their children organically, to include only grass-fed meats. I know a mother of 10 (blended family) who feeds her family a mostly raw, all organic, diet on under $600 per month. it is a different way of eating and initially there is a learning curve.

    We have to remember where people are coming from. i do think that grandma’s should at least attempt to honor the wishes of the the parents, but it does sound like husband reverts to a little boy once around mom and dad. You are likely not going to change grandma’s mind—sounds like she is going to eat herself to an early grave. Maybe grandma thinks you are too controlling (with even snacks in the freezer) and this is her way of rebelling. I suggest giving her some literature, sitting down with an adult husband who is willing to back you, and explaining why you are feeding the kids and yourselves this way. If after that grandma continues without regard for anyone or anything except validation of her lifestyle (narcissism) — well, then you might want to find an acceptance level somewhere between shutting off communication and allowing rampant food choices.

    I just plug along and I do not eat but a few ‘thank-you bites’ when at someone else’s home, usually bringing my own food. If people find this offensive, I consider it mostly their problem. I always try to explain so as to not hurt feelings. As far as the kids and grandkids, I will not make or bring anything that I would not consider healthy and eat myself. SO– I do not blindly accept what my children’s families eat or believe in when I visit their homes, I guess it’s only fair that I accept that they bring their food to my house. I just choose not to eat it.

    I must say the most difficult is knowing that the lives of my children and grandchildren are very likely being cut short by their choices and feeling that it is the children who are innocently being led down a disease-laden path.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Interesting!! I have the opposite issues!!

    We went to visit 2 of our grandchildren and their diets are filled with processed junk, white flour, a little fruits, a little veggies……at least no soda!

    So we immediately go buy our food have non-chemical items sent there before we arrive and other healthy items.

    Did have a Mom that thought it cute to allow our children when they were young to “sneak” candy, etc. or bring some for them as a “treat”. By them experiencing the belly aches they did learn to eat better. A shame some of them haven’t kept this healthier eating style with their own children…but then one has to appease a spouse’s up bringing also!!

    Not with the arguing just set an example as to letting them know what we eat now, through our own experiences to attain better health and healing.

    Do remember your children need you to speak up for their well-being….after all they learn from you. By your example..

  42. Anonymous says:

    I realize how tough it is when a person is sabotaged by ‘well-meaning’ parents, grandparents, or friends, especially when it comes to the interest of our own children. I am a vegetarian for 30 plus years, a vegan for 4 years, and about 70% raw, and have learned to live with the ‘so are you having the leg or the wing?’ jokes for years…

    That said, as a parent of a daughter who is now 20, I wish that I had your problem of grandparents who love to spoil their grandchildren. My Dad passed away long before I was ever married. My Mom died when my daughter was three.

    My daughter’s paternal grandparents have never had much time for her – not because they don’t love her – but they just have never been ‘hands-on’ type of grandparents (or from what I’ve been told, parents!). It was fine for me to bring her to their homes, but they have never made the effort to come see her or have her stay at their house… Do I wish that she could have had some of the love that “Momof3” in-laws’ seem to have for their grandchildren – even if it is a little misplace? In a heartbeat.

    True, you have a right to be miffed that your in-laws seem so disrespectful of your wishes, but isn’t the other 357 days you have to be able teach your kids healthy habits going to counter-act those 8 days of bad eating worth the love your kids get??? Be thankful for loving; albeit junk-food-devouring; Grandparents, not all kids are as lucky as yours.
    I always told my daughter (whose paternal grandmother talks worse than a sailor) don’t show your ignorance in using the same words your Grandma does, rather, show how intelligent you are by using a good vocabulary… You could tell your kids the same; just because Grandma eats all this junk, doesn’t mean you have to eat the same as her, make the healthy choices…

  43. Anonymous says:

    I am in agreement with camy. The grandparents will leave and your family can get back to normal. By the way… don’t forget to thank them for helping out while you were recovering. Even though it was stressful to you, it was normal for them. We are just now trying to change our ways. There is still ice cream in the freezer and cookies in the cookie jar, but a lot more more fresh fruits, vegies and smoothies. My family rebelled when I tried to change everything at once! So, slowly but surely things will get better. Be patient.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps you or DH could talk with his mom and explain how much you care for her, that she is a very important part of your family and how concerned you are that her health is being affected by her food choices. Maybe she just needs a little help in making changes in her eating habits. Let her know that you are willing to help her make changes.

    Next time she comes challenger her to 8 days of green smoothies. Tell her she can eat as she pleases but to add just one quart of green smoothie to her diet each day that she is in your home, just like Victoria’s challenge.

    If you focus on her and your concern for her health, she may be more willing to take the plunge. She might just be waiting for a little helping hand. Making such a drastic change can be very intimidating. The green smoothie challenge makes it seem easier if someone who knows the way shows you how to do it. If she knows she can take it a step at a time, she just might like the idea. It’s worth a try.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Hello there,

    My toe nails are suffering from some fungi, which causes my toe nails to look rotted! Any suggestions i’m almost ready to take some conventional medicine that is not good on the liver, please advise

    Desperate ,


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