Do you have a foster child who is a bit of a picky eater? Can mealtimes sometimes be tricky, as you are constantly trying to find something they enjoy eating but is also healthy? Being a picky eater is incredibly common with kids, especially those under the age of 12. It can feel as though they only like a small handful of items and you’re stuck feeding them those foods every day.
Sometimes a little creative thinking and a few tweaks to your mealtimes are all it takes to open their minds and have them expand their palate. Here’s a look at some basic tips you can use to make mealtimes a breeze with a foster child who is a picky eater.
Get Them to Participate in Meal Planning and Preparation
Often what turns kids off from wanting to try different foods is the fear of the unknown. A way around this can be to have them take part in meal preparation by making a menu for the week. They can then also help with preparing the meal, taking all the mystery out of what’s in the food they are eating. They can sample ingredients as you cook, experiment with spices and herbs and also learn about cooking in the process. Try looking online for kid-friendly recipes that use simple ingredients and a few steps to prepare.
Try Giving Them Smaller Portions to Make Meals Less Intimidating
Did you know that handing your foster child a fully loaded plate of items may be doing more harm than good? Although you may think you’re giving them a good healthy portion, for a picky eater, a full plate can be incredibly overwhelming. Start with small portions, i.e., just a couple of bites of each item. This allows them to try things in a non-intimidating manner. They can have more of what they like and not feel like they are being forced to clear a massive plate of food. It’s all about celebrating the little successes, which means taking it a couple of bites at a time.
Chat with Others Who Have Experienced Similar Issues
Sometimes it can feel like you’re the only one experiencing an issue and that you’re all alone. When it comes to caring for kids, nothing is further from the truth, as there are plenty of other foster carers out there who also have picky eaters and are trying to come up with smart solutions. Try connecting with your foster agency, such as Foster Care Associates Scotland, to see if they can offer any tips or support, or if there are any foster carer groups you can join to chat with others.
Model Healthy Eating Habits
Finally, you need to be sure that, as a foster carer, you are modelling good habits and that includes healthy eating. If your foster child sees you reaching for unhealthy snacks and foods, then they will assume this is the correct behaviour.
The fact is that dealing with a picky eater is very common and sometimes it takes a little thinking outside of the box to get kids to open up to new foods and ingredients.