"Just like JLo, my diet preferences determine how the family eats."

Jennifer Lopez

Would you believe it? Jennifer Lopez and I have more in common than a gift for latin dancing –  we both expect our kids to eat the same way as we do. But to different degrees.

JLo’s six year old twins Emme and Max are, like her, on a vegan diet.

My kids don’t eat much fish – because I don’t like it.

I’ve written before about my abhorrence of fish. And because I do most of the shopping and cooking at our place, there’s rarely tuna on our table.

When I go away, however, a freaking fish frenzy breaks out at my place. Salmon steaks, piles of prawns and masses of mackerel. As long as the smell is out of the kitchen on my return, I don’t care. In fact, I’m pleased. It’s good for them. Omega 3! Brain function! Heart health!

But generally, because I like to cook just the one meal for all of us, fish doesn’t feature. My dietary preferences determine how my family eats. In that respect, I’m just like Jennifer Lopez.

The thing is, JLo is a bit more hardcore than me. Literally and figuratively.

Her diet is strictly vegan – no meat, fish, dairy or eggs. Combine that with a rigorous dance schedule and it’s not surprising she’s as fit as a flea (have you ever seen a flea eat a burger? And their love of a salsa beat is well known).

BUT here’s the kicker – so she has ‘family support,’ JLo has got her six year old Emme and Max to board the vegan train with her. Apparently it’s going fine, except for Max’s occasional complaints. “Sometimes he says, ‘I don’t like vegan cheese. I want American cheese!'” JLo told Extra.

Wow. That vegan cheese must be awful. Have you tasted ‘American’ cheese? Poor Max.

So is it a good idea to put your kids onto a restrictive diet? Just because it’s good for you and easier for your family to all eat the same way, it it good for them? DISCLAIMER: I’m not a dietitian or a nutritionist, or an expert on anything other than Brady Bunch trivia, but the general feeling is no.

JLo with her twins

While kids can thrive on a well planned vegetarian diet, strict vegan diets aren’t recommended for young children because they have small stomachs but burn a lot of energy. They simply can’t eat enough plant foods to give them the nutrients they need.

Not to say it can’t be done, and JLo probably has a chef and/or dietician on staff to make sure her kids get enough of what they need, but is it fair for her to enforce her way of eating on her kids? Is it unreasonable for a six year old boy to want a bit of real cheese?

Or for an eleven year old girl (i.e. my daughter) to look forward to a tuna wrap once in a while?  Should she miss out because her mother thinks tinned tuna smells like cat food?

I don’t worry too much about my kids’ diet. They eat pretty well.

And I’m sure JLo’s kids will be just fine too.

The interesting thing to me is whether as parents we have the right to demand kids live the same way we do. We all do it to a degree, and not just with food. We expose them to the music we prefer, the clothes we like, and bigger things too, like religion and whether we prefer Masterchef or The Voice.

Families are all different and that’s what makes life interesting, but when asking kids to fall in line with us compromises their health, or their happiness, them maybe we need a re-think. If they really really want it, and it’s good for them, no kid should have to go without cheese (or fish) just to make their mother happy.

Do you make different meals for your kids? Or do they eat what you eat?