My husband and I have no trouble with a vegetarian diet in our home but our parents think we’re crazy and say so! How do we keep everyone happy?

  • Posted by Dr. Jay Gordon

So long as there are families, there are going to be some disagreements over how the separate generations are leading their individual lives. In a perfect world, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and siblings would at least respect, if not applaud, the way we choose to raise our children. But I am well aware the world still has a way to go before nutritional awareness reaches that level. So the question becomes, how should you deal with the disapproval?

I have parents tell me that they dread holidays because the grandparents try and slip meat and sweets to the children. Grandma is insulted if everyone doesn’t eat her turkey or ham. She considers it a comment on her cooking. After all, she raised you and you turned out okay, didn’t you? The argument is like tic-tac-toe against a computer. You can’t win.

What you can do is stand your ground. Before the event, call and discuss the situation with your parents. Gently tell them that you have very definite beliefs about what your children should be eating and you need to have your decisions honored. Explain that there are new scientific findings about the best way to eat. We now know a great deal more than we did when we were children. Just like they wanted us to grow up as healthy as possible, we want the same thing for our children. There may be some looks and muttered comments, but usually the family will rise to the occasion.

You should be aware of the mixed messages your children will be getting at these family gatherings. They are very conscious of the undercurrents, and if you don’t do a little preparation, they will be confused. Tell them something like this: “Other family members don’t feel the way you do about foods. They will be eating things that we know are bad for us. That’s their choice, and we shouldn’t say anything about it. But we know what we want to use to build our bodies. So no matter what other people say, we will choose those foods we’ve found are best for us.”

What you don’t want to do is make your family the bad guys. Tell your children: “Your grandparents are great! They just haven’t learned what we have about food.”