'No Spices, No Carbs': Teen Babysitter Backed for Defying Strict Kids' Diet

A teen has been backed online in a popular post for choosing to secretly feed her cousins "forbidden" food while babysitting them, going against her aunt's "hippie" diet rules.

The post was shared to popular Subreddit "Am I the A**hole" where users head to seek advice on personal issues. As was the case with this anonymous 18-year-old cousin, users flood the post with decisive responses on the situation.

In just one day, the post gained over 13,000 votes with people supporting the teen and even offering harsh advice on the next steps she should take to help the children.

The teen shared that her aunt is a "self-proclaimed hippie" who doesn't believe in modern medicine, including glasses that one of her two children needs. After losing her job last year due to refusal to take the vaccine, the aunt and her children—a 12-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl—moved in with the 18-year-old's family.

When she began babysitting her cousins while her aunt was out job-hunting, the aunt gave her a long list of things the children could not eat which said—"no fat, no spices, no sugar, no carbs, no dairy among many other requests I found ridiculous," wrote the cousin.

Children eating dinner
Stock image of two children laughing while eating dinner. Getty Images

Restrictive diets for children have long been a divisive topic, with arguments of negative impacts both physically and mentally.

According to some research, categorizing foods as "bad" in the eyes of a child can actually have the opposite of the desired effect and make them more appealing, with children wanting to eat them even when they aren't hungry. While children who diet also have a higher risk of developing eating disorders in the future, according to studies.

The British Nutrition Foundation found that in the U.K., 20 percent of children follow some kind of elimination diet but only three to six percent have a medical condition that makes it necessary.

Various reports have surfaced in recent years of families across the globe facing disastrous effects of strict diets for their children, including a baby in Italy who was reportedly found to be severely malnourished from a vegan diet and removed from the family's care. In Belgium, a seven-month-old baby reportedly died after being fed a lactose and gluten-free diet.

However, various official boards do attest that diets including vegetarian and vegan can be followed successfully with proper medical advice and thorough planning.

American diets infographic
Infographic showing American diets, as provided by Statista. Statista's Global Consumer Survey

The story of this anonymous teen is far from just vegetarian or vegan however, as explained in the post.

"I should state this, both of my cousins are skinny to the point some would consider them malnourished so the fact that they had to diet on top of that was ridiculous," she wrote. "At first I obeyed her rules, they're her kids not mine after all. But after a while I started noticing how the diet affected the kids. They never had enough energy to do anything, didn't want to run or play like most kids their age and just looked miserable in general."

The teen said she had then begun adding "forbidden foods" to their meals, making them soon gain "some healthy weight and begin playing like most kids their age."

Next, she took one of her cousins to an optometrist to get his eyesight checked, discovering he needed glasses. "I bought him glasses and told him to wear them whenever my aunt wasn't around and he thanked me later saying he can finally see the chalkboard at school," she wrote.

"Last week we were playing at a park and I gave my youngest cousin some mini Oreos to share with her friends on the playground. I later heard crying only to see my aunt dragging the five-year-old towards my direction, apparently she was walking by the park when she saw her eating the Oreos. Then she noticed the 12-year-old wearing glasses and absolutely lost it on me," she added.

According to the teen, the aunt confiscated the glasses and moved away to her sister's house.

Reddit users were shocked by the situation and rushed to offer support to the young woman.

"I can understand someone having strict dietary rules for their family, but carbs are what provide the body with the energy required to fuel cellular division for organs and the nervous system, aid in digestion and all manner of regular bodily functions. It's critical that children eat a balanced diet with carbohydrates for normal growth," reasoned one user.

"But to deny a kid clear vision is a serious red flag. It's abuse, full stop. Poor eyesight is an inherited trait that's easily corrected so I can't fathom someone being so obtuse as to consider eyeglasses unnecessary," they added.
"NTA, and I would strongly suggest you contact Child Protective Services. This woman is a danger to her children's wellbeing."

Another user agreed, similarly dubbing her "not the a**hole," writing: "Not your place is for decisions like no TV. Not decisions like letting a child who desperately needs glasses make do without, or intentionally starving her kids."

In response to the outpouring of support online, the teen shared that she had managed to find contact details for the children's father, thanks to the direction of Reddit users, and had tried to reach him.

"If I fail to do so I will probably try and reach out to my aunt one last time. I'm trying to take the most peaceful route since I don't want my cousins to go through the process of CPS investigation," she concluded online. "But if neither of those things work and nothing changes I will definitely be contacting CPS."