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Ask Amy

New vegetarian worries about mom’s diet

Q. I am 15 years old. I have recently become a vegetarian for several reasons (mostly that I disagree with beef-production methods).

My mom is slightly overweight, but certainly nothing bad. She recently decided to become vegetarian as well, but I suspect she is doing so because she thinks it will help her lose weight. I am very health conscious, enjoy fruits and vegetables, and believe in well-rounded meals.

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Is it possible for a mom to be anorexic? She seems to take eating to the extremes. She will often not eat more than a few noodles for dinner, skips breakfast often (she “forgets”), and I have no idea if she eats anything when I’m at school.

She claims she can get by eating much less, and will almost never have dessert or any sort of fried food. I have tried to help her realize this is not healthy, but she is in denial.

I am growing increasingly frustrated and worried. What do you suggest?

FRUSTRATED IN CO

A. Anyone — at any age — can develop an eating disorder. You should be honest with your mother about this. If you continue to suspect she is in trouble, tell an adult family member or friend who might be able to help.

Adult women and teenagers have different metabolism and needs. Your mother may eat her biggest meal at lunchtime (I do), and then try to have less food in the evening.

As new vegetarians, you both need to make sure your diets are nutritionally balanced. It would be best to see a nutritionist together. Also cook and eat together. The first function of food is to nourish your body. But food provides an important communal and family function.

I’m a fan of vegetarian cook Mollie Katzen. Her newest recipe book is “The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation” (2013, Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Q. My wife and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl into the world about two weeks ago. Everyone is healthy and happy. Before she arrived, we took prenatal classes. One of the lessons we learned was the importance of supporting an infant’s head while holding/passing the baby because they cannot do this themselves.

Several family members (ones with a lot of experience with babies) seem to have no concept of this. Watching this causes us both a great deal of anxiety, and we have since avoided having these family members hold her.

I would like to point out the error in their ways, but am not sure how to do it politely. Please help!

LOOKING FOR SUPPORT

A. If you swaddle your newborn tightly, papoose style, her head may already be somewhat supported by the swaddling. Otherwise — absolutely — consider this your first opportunity to advocate for your baby.

On the one hand, your child is probably fine. On the other, even experienced parents do forget how to handle the floppy fragility of a newborn.

Any time anyone does anything with your child that you don’t like or which you question, speak up. You say, “Whoa. New dad here! Don’t forget to support her head, OK?” If there is someone who seems to have consistent trouble passing the child, then ask the person to sit down and place the baby in his or her arms.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@tribune.com. Follow her on Twitter @asking
amy
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