Happy Families Can Have More Than One Diet

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Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk About Food

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their struggles and successes with healthy eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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My Diverse Family

My family is an example of diet diversity. And an example that we can all get along happily anyway.

I grew up on a farm in South Dakota where everyone ate a meat-and-potatoes diet. My parents even butchered their own cattle for meat. My husband, Terry, grew up eating meat as well.

At age 18, I met Terry, who was a vegetarian at the time. Even though I didn’t think I’d ever become a vegetarian, I stopped wanting to eat meat. I haven’t eaten it since. That was 36 years ago.

Will (7 mos.) wearing noise protectors and "helping" make organic baby cereal in 1985.

Will (7 mos.) wearing noise protectors and "helping" Deb make organic baby cereal in 1985.

My husband and I have been on vegan or raw-food diets for short periods, although we’ve been lacto-ovo vegetarians consistently throughout the years. And I always added eggs and dairy products to my diet during pregnancy and while nursing.

Our children, Will and Christina, were breastfed exclusively for their first 6 months and then gradually introduced to homemade baby food. We added eggs and dairy products to Will’s and Christina’s diets while they were growing and let them choose their diets as adults.

At 25 and 20, Will and Christina are still  lifelong vegetarians, using organic foods when possible. Today, Will is a lacto-ovo vegetarian, and Christina is a vegan five days a week and lacto-ovo vegetarian the other two. Will’s wife, Chea, and Christina’s husband, Tom, both happily eat vegan meals, yet they also eat meat at times.

Christina (8 mos.) eating her homemade organic baby food in 1990.

Christina (8 mos.) eating her homemade organic baby food in 1990.

Like Christina, I’m vegan five days a week and lacto-ovo vegetarian the other two. Terry is vegan 2-4 days each week. Terry’s and my parents and siblings generally continued their traditional diets.

What about Family Reunions? Aren’t They Awkward?

My answer is, “Not at all.” Those of us who are vegetarian are so mainly for health reasons. We don’t have problems with people who eat meat, and people who eat meat don’t have problems with us. We wear leather, and we aren’t extremists.

Sometimes a family member will want to make a special vegetarian dish for a family gathering. Most of the time, those of us who are vegetarians eat the salads, fruit, vegetables, and dessert from the regular meal. All that’s added is wholegrain bread, cheese, and peanut butter. At least, that’s what my mother has done at family gatherings for years.

Terry, Deb, Christina, Tom, Will, and Chea eating at Veg 'N Out in San Diego in 2010.

Terry, Deb, Christina, Tom, Will, and Chea eating at Veg 'N Out in San Diego in 2010.

My mother makes a variation of wholegrain Finnish flatbread that we all love and look forward to. The main part of the meal is family togetherness. The most important ingredient is love.

Dealing with Family Gatherings That Include Vegetarians

Since vegetarians may or may not eat fish, eggs, and dairy, it’s always safest to ask. As lacto-ovo vegetarians, we don’t eat fish, but we can eat dairy products and eggs.

My daughter and I are vegan (sort of) five days a week mainly because of the higher fiber and lower fat content. So we don’t worry if there are eggs in a dish or if we visit someone and eat dairy and eggs on a day we are normally vegan.

If someone is a strict vegan, then it’s a bit more challenging. There are egg substitutes at health-food stores that can replace the eggs in most dishes. Like many people, I typically use soymilk instead of regular milk, and soymilk is readily available in most cities. Usually the wholegrain bread and nut butter will work for vegans at a family meal.

My Family’s Vegetarian Recipe Solution

Grandma Judy's flatbread.

Grandma Judy's flatbread.

Here’s a flatbread variation that’s easy to make. We save it for family get-togethers so it always seems special.

Lightly coat frozen wholegrain bread dough with vegetable oil and let thaw 3-5 hours in a plastic bag. Form into a ball and then roll out dough on floured board or counter. Put loaf on greased pan to rise about 1 hour. Punch holes in bread dough with a fork. Bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

I’ve also made flatbread by mixing and kneading wholegrain bread dough in a bread machine. Then I just have to roll it out, let it rise, punch holes in the dough, and bake as before. Simple, yet delicious, and special because it’s made with love.

Has your family found a way to happily deal with different diets?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Welcome to Two — All About Food — In case you hadn’t heard, there is a conspiracy afoot from the two year olds of the world. Shana at Tales of Minor Interest stumbled onto their newsletter!
  • Four Seasons of Eating Locally — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has pointers for what fresh produce can be found year-round. (@MBJunction)
  • Happy Families Can Have More Than One Diet — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has figured out a way for her family to live happily as vegans and vegetarians with relatives who eat meat. (@DebChitwood)
  • My Own Omnivore’s Dilemma — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante prioritizes responsible consumer choices for her family.
  • No Gluten — No Cry — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma learned to cook balanced meals when her son’s food sensitivities prompted a diet overhaul. (@kitchenwitch)
  • Try, Try Again — Stefanie at very very fine has become an enthusiastic consumer of locally grown food.
  • CSA — Week 1 — Casey at What Love Is wants her children to know where their food comes from, so she joined a friendly CSA. (@CBerbs)
  • Food: Parenting or Homemaking? — Michelle at The Parent Vortex sees food as part of a parent’s nurturing role. (@TheParentVortex)
  • 5 Tips to Help Kids Develop Healthy Eating Habits — If you struggle with healthy eating, helping your child develop healthy habits might be a challenge. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five easy tips that will help your kids learn to make good food choices. (@CodeNameMama)
  • Family Food: Seeking Balance Between Healthy, Sustainable & Affordable — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings has a whole list of ideas for how she can improve her family’s eating, both now and into the future. (@sunfrog)
  • Whole Foods in, Wholesome Feelings Out — Jessica at This is Worthwhile has turned her back on the processed, preservative-ridden food of her childhood. (@tisworthwhile)
  • When to Splurge on Organic (and When It Is Okay to Skip It) — Becoming Mamas tell you what foods to prioritize when buying pricier organic food, and where you can find it cheaper. (@becomingmamas)
  • A Locavore’s Family Meal — Acacia at Be Present Mama tells a story in pictures of her family taking a trip to the local organic farmers market and then preparing a summer meal together with their bounty.
  • Eat Your Food, or Else — Why should we not bribe a child to eat? TwinToddlersDad from Littlestomaks (Science Driven Real Life Toddler Nutrition) explains. (@TwinToddlersDad)
  • Food, Glorious Food! — Luschka at Diary of a First Child describes three easy ways her family has started eating healthier. (@diaryfirstchild)
  • Celebrating Food — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes in food as medicine and thinks it’s worth paying more to keep healthy. (@myzerowaste)
  • Oil and Yogurt — What have you been motivated to do with the current oil spill crisis? midnightfeedings has started making her own yogurt. (@midnightfeeding)
  • Growth-Spurt Soup (AKA “Beannut Stew”) — BeanMa has a special stew to help her baby through growth spurts that keep her up all night. (@thebeanma)
  • Why I Love The Real Food Community — Much like many people who follow AP/NP values, Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! takes the parts of the “real food” philosophy that work for her family and leaves the rest. (@bfmom)
  • Feeding a Family of Six — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children gives helpful tips for feeding a family of six.
  • Starting Solids at 6 Months — Did your doctor recommend that you give your baby cereal? Sheryl at Little Snowflakes discusses how whole foods are so much healthier (and more delicious) than traditional cereal. (@sheryljesin)
  • Am I What I Eat? — Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has figured out a way to avoid grocery stores nearly altogether.
  • Are We Setting Our Kids Up To Fail? — Megan at Purple Dancing Dahlias found that cutting out the junk also transformed her sons’ behavior problems.
  • Changing your family’s way of eating — Lauren at Hobo Mama has techniques you can try to move your family gradually toward a healthier diet. (@Hobo_Mama)
  • Real Food — What kinds of fake foods do you eat? And why?! Lisa C. at My World Edenwild talks about why she chooses real food.
  • A Snackaholic’s Food Battle — Julie at Simple Life wants to stop snacking and get into the old ways of cooking from scratch and raising her own food. (@homemakerjulie)
  • Food, Not Fight — Summer at Finding Summer doesn’t want her kids to grow up like her husband: hating everything green. (@summerm)
  • How Do You Eat When You Are out of Town? — Cassie at There’s a Pickle In My Life wants some tips on how to eat healthy when you are out of town.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Food! — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker hopes that by serving her children healthy, balanced meals, they will become accustomed to making good food choices. (@sybilryan)
  • There’s No Food Like Home’s — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing revels in the Bajan food of her upbringing. (@BlkWmnDoBF)
  • This Mom’s Food Journey — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment made a journey from not paying attention to food to growing her own.
  • Who Knew Eating Was So Hard? — The challenges involved in changing to healthier eating habits take on a whole new dimension when you have a child who has difficulties eating. kadiera at Our Little Acorn shares her own experiences. (@kadiera)
  • Loving Food — Starr at Earth Mama truly believes food is her family’s medicine and is willing to spend days preparing it the traditional way.
  • Food Mindfulness — Danielle at born.in.japan details how her family spends money on each category of food. (@borninjp)
  • Food for Little People — Zoey at Good Goog wants to bless her daughter with happy traditions built around good food. (@zoeyspeak)
  • Eat Like a Baby — Have you been told that you should not equate food with love? Kate Wicker at Momopoly shows us why that’s not necessarily true. (@Momopoly)
  • Food — Deb at Science@Home tries to teach her children three rules to help them eat a healthy diet. (@ScienceMum)
  • Healthy Eating Lactose-Free — MamanADroit gives us tips on how to eat healthy if you are lactose intolerant (or just don’t want cow milk). (@MamanADroit)

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