Monday, May 14, 2007

Raising Raw Children in the Real World

I have had two chilling experiences in the last two days that have me fearful of raising my children in the lowfat raw vegan lifestyle...

We were all visiting my in-laws on Mother's Day and were enjoying each other's company. We talked about gardening and all of the exploits of the various young children in the extended family. At one point, we had been commiserating about a relative who is a bit wacky (or maybe cranky is a better word) and is in the process of going blind and losing her mobility as a result of diabetes and obesity.

My son came into the room and did something in such a grown up way, that I was just so enamored of him at that moment. He has grown up so much physically as well. I reached over and tousled his hair and said, "What a good-lookin' young man. He's growing up so fast."

"He's too skinny!" my mother-in-law shot back. "He's a healthy weight," I responded. And the matter was dropped. But this isn't the first time she's made such a comment. It is really upsetting, because she truly does not respect me as a parent. The earlier discussion of the chronic suffering of our diabetic relative--doesn't she make the connection between a healthy weight and long-term health?

Later I looked up my son's height and weight at

and received this report:

A 7 year and 7 months old (male) child who is 50 pounds and is 4 feet tall has a body mass index of 15.3,
which is at the 40th percentile,
and would indicate that your child is at a healthy weight.

This doesn't even take into account the problems with the BMI chart and the height and weight percentiles being based on a population of unhealthy and overweight children.

The second experience tonight came when my friend (who is my mother's age) confronted me about our new diet style. She was quite worried that I am starving my children. She was highly concerned that a diet primarily consisting of fruit would cause them to stop growing and not develop healthy brains. She kept saying, "No grains?"

I let her try a cracker made with sprouted grains and flax that I had in my car... which in a way was dishonest, since I am coming to believe that indeed, the best diet for my children does NOT include grains.

When my children were last there about a week ago, they went inside her home to visit while my husband and I were doing some gardening. When I went to retrieve them, I found her feeding them large quantities of rice, beans, eggs, and bread. I didn't say anything. But she used this as evidence that they weren't getting enough to eat. I explained that they have healthy appetites, are very active, and eat large quantities of food all day. (I didn't mention that she uses a lot of salt in her food or bring up words like excito-toxins). The conversation ended with her seeming to accept what I was saying, with reservation and she did apologize for "scolding me." But I left with a sick, fearful feeling in my stomach. Would my friend turn me in to the authorities?

Part of my fear comes from inside. What if my kids aren't getting what they need? Recently, I have become aware that they need to eat much more sweet fruit than I realized. I didn't know that they needed more bananas and mangoes than apples and oranges. My oldest does not like melon or bananas very much and will not eat mangoes at all. He eats a lot of apples, which are his favorite. My daughters are actually a bit overweight and are less picky, so I worry less about them. And of course, the toddler is still nursing quite a bit.

All of you out there, you lovely blog readers, reassure me! Does anyone have wisdom or resources to share?


Anonymous said...

I wish I had great advice, however, I can only share in your worries! :)

I hope someone else can say some reassuring words!

BTW -- I would have been very rude to the woman who fed your kids eggs without you knowing. That seems so disrespectful. You handled it so much better than I could have!

Greenmama said...

Hi there,

Thanks for your support!

Unfortunately, I am used to this. I live in a very conservative (and very overweight) part of the country. Veganism is considered a fringe cult. Raw-ism is basically unknown and people think it's an eating disorder.

Both sets of grandparents feed my children meat and dairy against my wishes, but I have not been "strong enough" to put my foot down, especially since my husband is not willing to confront his parents.

Frankly, it's a source of stress!


Anonymous said...

I too know how critical folks can be of the diet. It is absolutely insane when people take such an interest in our lifestlyes. Do these people go to McD's and question the Parents there. Or how about the mom who is pushing a cart load of Sugar around the Grocery? But by feeding (or eating) fresh organic Fruits and Vegetables we are the ones who have lost our minds?

just my two cents

Jennifer C. said...

Looking at the photo of your children you posted the other day, they look very happy and the picture of health! You must be doing something right.

Greenmama said...

Thanks a lot, Jennifer!


Anonymous said...

Hi - I have been reading your post and have been going backwards so that is why I am reading older posts. I had to say something about this issue. I had three children and diet wasn't the issue but the fact that my husband and I chose to homeschool our children. Both of our sets of parents questioned this, and I enjoyed showing them all of the resources and information about why we chose this way. My husband's parents decided that we were going to "harm" our children and unless we enrolled them in a "public" school, they would quit speaking to us. I am sure they thought this threat would make us bend to what they thought was best for all. My husband and I prayed over this and decided that home-schooling would benefit my children and that the school system was not for us.

Crazy as it is, they followed through. That was 20 years ago and my three children have done beautifully. I wanted to say that as parents, you have the ultimate decision in the welfare of your children in all respects. Sometimes that will mean stepping out on a limb. Sometimes it will mean broken relationships with others. Of course it depends on how strongly you feel on any issue that concerns your children. It's okay to ask others advice etc but your friend should respect your rights as parent to decide your child's food, schooling etc.

Karen Bennett - Stafford Virginia