Blended Family Food Challenges: Advice for a Reader/Friend

potato chipsCan you help?

Recently, a friend of mine shared a dilemma she is dealing with. Her husband has children from his first marriage who spend time at their home on some weekends and for parenting time throughout the year. She needs some help knowing how to handle this unique situation where their non-custodial children/step-children come from a processed-food house into a non-processed food house. As you can imagine, there are some big challenges.

She writes:

“I think that my step son nearly starves when he’s here because our syrup is different and our waffles are different and he doesn’t eat fruits and vegetables or rice/noodles without the processed stuff added. Honestly, it makes me a bit crazy, because the rest of us eat a (mostly) unprocessed diet and I don’t want to have processed food stocked in the house just for him….it goes against what I want to teach the whole family.”

Ugh. I can only imagine how hard this must be. She goes on to add:

“I plug in as many “comfortable” yet healthy meals as I can while he’s here (tacos, burgers, plain chicken), and I continue to challenge him to eat what we have.  I do buy a few late-night junk food snacks for him, but cringe when I put those foods in my basket.   I hope that eventually, when he can make his own choices as an adult, he’ll have an awareness of what’s healthy and what’s not.”

I guess the challenge would be that you’d know he was going back to his mom’s house and eating junk. I think a lot of kids would balk at eating “real food” if they weren’t used to it. Our 9-yr-old adopted son stared at his plate in disbelief MANY times once he came to live with us.

But now? He’ll gobble up most anything I make.

I DO think Real Food is an acquired taste. Our mouths have been duped to think that fake food is the best-tasting food there is. And by now, hopefully you’ve realized that the REASON junk food tastes “good” is because it’s loaded with taste-bud-fooling chemicals like MSG to trick our brains. Learn the importance of reading labels on a recent post I did.

I wonder if just inserting little facts about Real Food would help. Or mentioning things like “how do you feel after eating a bag of Doritos”?  It might be futile, though, as he may not realize just how yucky he feels since it’s all he knows. And while I don’t have teenagers (yet), I can only imagine how difficult “reasoning” with them would be, especially if they don’t live with me 24/7.

OR, how about buying some better alternatives to the junk food for him? For instance, if he likes potato chips, maybe he’d like these that are made with olive oil (or avocado oil) instead of nasty chemically processed ones:

That way my friend could still feed him with some of her Real Food integrity intact.

What about you, readers? What advice do you have for my friend? I know she’ll appreciate any tips you can offer!! Please comment in the section below!


Photo Credit


This is shared at: Real Food Wednesday, Weekend Whatever


  1. Leave a Reply

    June 8, 2017

    I know that this is an older post but it’s something that I’m contending with at the moment and would love any advice I could get. I am living with my boyfriend who has two children from previous relationships. We’ve been together for almost two years and moved in with each other about 6 months ago. Recently it has become an issue with the new rules since we’ve moved in together with the moms of his children putting the blame on me being around, however, these are things that both myself and the children’s father have decided on. I am a nutritionist and try to have as many “healthy”/better food choices in the house, I believe that it is important to be physically active, and that there is nothing wrong with teaching kids the importance of doing these things. That being said we still eat pizza, Chinese takeout, get ice cream, etc. but these things are viewed as special treats not the usual. The problem is that my boyfriend hadn’t always been like this, his staples when he had the kids before me were pop tarts and boxed Mac and cheese, and these are the foods that the kids are used to eating daily with their moms.
    Even though I do my best to not push the food issue it is something that is important to me, it’s what I do and believe in! I get the kids some of the things they want, more sugary cereals and the boxed Mac and cheese that I really dislike for instance, but I feel like I am going against my own beliefs every time. Between the outbursts by the kids over why they can’t eat pop tarts for breakfast anymore and accusations by the moms saying I’m a horrible person for exposing their kids to real foods and teaching them about healthy foods I’m about at my breaking point. Does anyone have any advice for me? I want to be able to eat the way I like as well in my own house without feeling like I’m the bad one or always making two meals. Thanks!!

  2. Leave a Reply

    July 31, 2013

    Kudos to you for trying! I can relate a bit as we are adjusting our diets here too due to food allergies/intolerances. It is a slow process and we are doing it daily–I can only imagine the challenges you must face when it is intermittent. We are a family of 6–our eating style was a mix of processed and whole foods. Most of the processed foods were for school lunch and quick, on-the-go snacks. We are slowly eliminating the processed foods from our diets. So, not knowing the age(s) of the kid(s), here are the things we are doing at our house.

    Our 10 year old and two 13 year olds are involoved in planning meals, shopping, and preparing the food. They each have a meal they plan and prepare from start to finish each week, at least during the summer. They each have a week where they shop with me–I get to share about healthy choices vs the processed option. As they start to learn a little bit of what is in the foods they are eating the are becoming more turned off from some of the processed options. They choose 2-3 new foods each week that we will try as a family. I am also allowing them to pick 2-3 of their favorite processed stuff, more as a comfort in the time of transition but also as a reward/bribe for trying the new things.

    Our 5 year old is probably the most difficult as he is a big snacker and isn’t very fond of fruits and veggies. He has always had some textures issues with food and is at the age where trying new things is scary for him. He is also the one who gets the most rewards/bribes for trying new foods more than the others. He has come a long way in the last 2 months!! He loves to bake and his new favorite dessert is chocolate beet cake, and he knew the beets were in it before he tried it. He also really loves green smoothies–at first I had to sneak the “yucky stuff” in it but know he asks for it regularly.

    We did a TON of compromising at the beginning, just as Melissa suggested above. Just as it takes 30 days to create a new habit, I read it take 20-30 “tastes” of a food before acquiring a taste for it. Truthfully, there are still some things I don’t care for and I try to remember that when encouraging my kids to eat new foods.

    I also found a great cookbook at our library. Real Snacks by Lara Ferroni is all about making the favorite treats w/ better ingredients. Each recipe also has gluten-free and vegan options as well. From caramel corn, twinkies, oreos, and fish crackers to dips, chips, and sprinkles for cupcakes/cookies. The kids still get the junk but I get to control what goes in it! **I am fully aware of the calories still in the foods, but I am going for the nutritional and preservative free benefit.

    I am not sure if you will be able to take and apply any of this to your situation but it is what is working for us. Also, as I have learned from watching friends with blended families, any changes always come better when they are spoken by the biological parent. So if it is hubby’s kids, maybe he could do some meal planning/shopping/tip sharing rather than you…Keep trying and don’t give up!

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