Three family members make salad together; small hand pours salt in bowl, teenager with bracelets mixes salad, parent slices red pepper

Dietary Concerns and the Non-CF Sibling

In our home, we are a home divided. We have fruit and vegetables and waffles and snack cakes. Anything my son wants, he usually gets. If he asks for something particular to eat, we rarely turn him down. This is not the same for our daughter and while it may seem like a double-standard, we have to monitor her diet as well.

We all know about the importance of a high-calorie diet for someone with CF. But what about the diet of the sibling(s) without CF? In our home, it can be difficult to explain to our daughter why my son can have whatever he wants, yet she is unable to.

Healthy choices

Just like the high-calorie foods that we keep in stock for our son, we do the same for our daughter (and for ourselves). Our daughter gets to pick a treat or two but mostly she is in charge of picking the healthy things. She loves grapes and apples so we always have them available for her.

We never tell her no to getting something healthy to eat (time of day permitting) if she is hungry. We talk about making good food choices and how important it is to eat something wholesome. We never let either child sit on the couch with a bag of anything and mindlessly snack. Instead, they can get a snack bag and put some in that. This way, portions can be controlled and/or limited.

Staying active

We try to keep both kids active, especially our daughter. Since she is on the cusp of turning into a pre-teen, she really needs to stay active. Just like the diet talk that we have, we also talk about the importance of staying active. This has become especially since the pandemic started. Any excuse I can give to them to be active, we do it. We have also explained to our daughter that since her brother digests food in a different way, she has to watch her food intake and activity levels more.

Include them in meal planning

Both of our kids get a say on what our meals will be. We have an idea of their favorite dinners, and we always ask for their input when planning our meals for the week. This way, everyone gets something they both like and will eat. No wasted food and no fights about having to eat something they don't like.

A family that cooks together, stays together

Both of our children like to help us cook. And while they don't get along with each other most of the time, when we all cook together it becomes a team job. We help each other out and when the food is ready, they are more likely to eat it. This gives us a chance to teach our kids some basic life skills while being together and learning about food. It takes longer than usual and there is usually a bigger mess, but it's worth it.

While having two children with opposite dietary needs can be a struggle at first, you will learn the best way to talk to them about how they should nourish their individual bodies. It can feel daunting at first but soon, everyone is on the same page and will understand that diets are an individual need, not a family need.

What are your tips for managing multiple siblings' diets when one has CF? Share in the comments below!

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