Food And Filling Prevention: My Latest Sources of Mummy Guilt

Mummy-guilt trip to Waitrose!

Mummy-guilt trip to Waitrose!

Today I have been obsessing about food and tooth decay. I found out recently that my three-year-old son has cavities. I was horrified. He loves his sweets and juice and though we minimise his intake of both, he is also a fussy eater and so has many other bad-teeth foods like dried fruit and toast with jam.

Probably as a result of latent anxiety, which seems to be the latest phase of medication side effects (or just my natural state), when I saw the hole in my son’s tooth this morning it tipped me over the edge. Even though I later allowed him to eat a muffin (and don’t get me started on the guilt I felt when I saw the 11 lines of ingredients, most of which were unpronounceable) and some crisps.

So while he slept this afternoon I spent an hour on Google. It didn’t improve my anxiety; quite the opposite. Because it turns out that grain-based foods are bad for teeth too. And my fussy child only eats breakfast cereal, sandwiches, toast and pasta. All wheat. (Also all full of salt – and a news report I heard this morning bemoaned how much salt kids eat – is there no end to my parenting fails?).

My sister has started following a Paleo diet (a diet that seeks to recreate the foods our ancestors would have eaten – meat and veg – while eschewing grains, potatoes, dairy, refined sugar and processed foods). She’s the foodie in the family. I hate cooking, I hate thinking about food and I’m rubbish at anything that requires hardship and excessive thinking. A diet without grains falls into all those camps, especially when pancakes and pasta are key elements of happy parenting for me. I have got lazy recently, feeding particularly my son the things I know he’ll eat, like spaghetti bolognaise and cheese sandwiches. I thought as long as he had a few fruit pouches, plenty of milk and some rice cakes, he was getting an okay diet (he gets great food at nursery and eats better for strangers).

But while I figured he would outgrow his fussiness, I hadn’t factored in his teeth issues. And now all my laissez-faire parenting, my not insisting on fresh fruit and vegetables and fish in the hope that – like his sister – he’d come to all the things in his own time, seems to have backfired. Because apparently nutrition can affect teeth. Obviously I knew that calcium was important, but both my kids drink buckets of milk. I didn’t really think about all the other vitamins, like A and D and the Omega fats. My daughter doesn’t like cow’s milk so she has powder milk – fortified with vitamins – as well as happily eating fish and meat. Is it coincidence that her teeth are fine?

Anyway, I won’t try and unravel all the sources of information I ploughed through today. I came away with one relatively-easy solution: cod liver oil, with one concern – vitamin A overdose. I didn’t come to a happy resolution, but I did decide that cod liver oil might be good for all of us (particularly hubbie’s bad back and my dodgy knees). I also decided that if I can’t banish grains from our diet, I might be able to widen them away from just wheat. A bit more maize and rice. Cornflakes (also nicely lower in sugar than most of our current breakfast cereals), rice cakes, some minestrone soup. Baby steps. And eggs, eggs are meant to be good. I used to cook lots of scrambled egg, until my son refused to eat it. He might just have to learn to eat what he’s given or lump it!

Conscientious parenting: so full of pitfalls it should come with a health warning.

8 thoughts on “Food And Filling Prevention: My Latest Sources of Mummy Guilt

  1. Oh my dear, I’m right there with you. My daughter does like a few healthy foods (she loves fresh fruit of almost all kinds) but she is also very picky when it comes to certain things. Getting protein in her is the battle of a lifetime because the only thing she likes that falls into that category is breaded chicken. Sometimes I can get some noodles into her, but she won’t touch rice, and she always always always wants pizza. On a normal day she’s known to have a Nutri-grain bar for breakfast, crackers and cheese and maybe some fruit for lunch, and absolutely nothing for supper because she refuses to eat what I make even if it means she goes hungry for the rest of the day. (She’s outrageously stubborn.)

    And now that you’ve brought it up, I find myself concerned about her teeth because we haven’t been to the dentist with her yet (she’s just over three) since she won’t even let ME look in her mouth, never mind a stranger. Ugh.

    One word of advice amidst the empathy: if you’re going to try cod liver oil, find a drop-based kind for your son that you can just hide in his milk or something. When I was little my dad went on a cod liver oil kick and tried to force them on me too but I’d just end up crying because I couldn’t swallow the enormous capsules. 😛

    • Yes, stubborn is a killer isn’t it? I think my son would rather starve than give in. I did my research on the cod liver oil and have gone for a refined one that’s meant to taste of orange and lemon. We’ll see when it arrives!

  2. For what it’s worth, I believe a lot of this is down to genetics. McOther’s teeth are useless, he can break them on a crunchie bar and his mouth is full of metal. He eats the same stuff as me. Me, I ate loads of sweets as a kid and at 45 I still haven’t had a filling. According to my dentist, some people’s saliva is more alkaline than others, the more alkaline the ambient background of your mouth, the harder it is for bacteria that cause cavities to grow and the less damage the acid they produce (which causes the cavities) will cause.

    So basically, a lot of it is about genetics, which is out of your hands.



    • I agree, unfortunately, but I have to think there’s something I can do because otherwise the kids are screwed as Hubbie and I both have awful teeth. Hubbie’s happy to write it off to genetics but if there are simple things I can do to maybe stop them experiencing some of the pain I’ve had to endure over the years, it’s worth a shot (and then, when it fails, I’ll fall back on blaming my genes rather than my parenting!) 🙂

  3. Pingback: Medicate Me: Day Fifteen | writermummy

  4. I have to agree, it has more to do with genetics, and perhaps brushing ability, than food. My daughter had to go under general at 4 to have a large amount of fillings. She still has bad teeth, though better now she’s older and brushes more.

    She gets them from me I’m afraid, because hubby has had 2 fillings in his whole life! Our dentist says it is because he has a lot of calcium in his system ( which comes out as plaque and looks bad). Not much we can do about it really.

    Why is it that teeth make us feel so bad? I really wish it wasn’t so. My daughter has to have two fillings in her permanent teeth now. I’m dreading it.

  5. I think some kids have stronger teeth than others – my brother and I ate similar food yet he had no fillings and I had tons! So, your three year old’s hole probably has little to do eating the wrong food!

    • Thank you for this. I kind of hope you’re wrong because I don’t want him to have fillings! 🙂 I have tons and I hate them. But it’s a moot point anyway, because I can’t get him to take the cod liver oil or improve what he eats! I can only take extra care brushing his teeth… But thank you for saying it isn’t my fault! 🙂

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