Dinner for Two Please
One of the topics I was not prepared for when planning what foster care may look like was dinner.
I learned very quickly that the children that come into care don't often come with a taste for real home cooked meals. The intense flavor of rich foods or foods seasoned with anything other than salt were not acceptable.
A can of spaghetti O's or a frozen pot pie were more attractive than fresh fried chicken with mashed potatoes and peas.
We realized that they had become so accustomed to processed foods, that foods made from scratch were not appealing.
One of our children had been eating out of a trash can, so having fresh food one would think would be a comfort, but nope. Keeping their meals as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some chips and a cookie was heavenly.
It took about three years before I could get them to eat what we're eating.
They would always have to try, if they couldn't eat it or tolerate the flavors then I would let them have what was more pleasing to them. And even then, the portions were very small, unless it was dessert. They could easily tear up the sugar part of that food pyramid.
After a lot of soul searching, it just became clear to me that this is not the hill I wanted to die on. I just resolved to making two dinners or even just leaving it up to the child even though I didn't always agree.
I put into place meals boundaries for them, and they had to pick out a certain amount of protein in order to have dessert, however, we made sure that their diet was meeting the necessary calories and appropriate food groups.
I realized why our child was so focused on the sugar part of food. She never missed dessert. She would forget everything else important, but not dessert. We chuckled at this often. But she, in her mind was programed that if you got dessert then you were good, even if you weren't.
It also brought her a certain amount of pleasure of which she didn't get very often. So it wasn't about the sugar, maybe even not about the dessert, it was about the emotional happiness that it gave her.
So even now, I make two meals sometimes, and I have a lot of processed food in my house that I don't really agree with, but my daughter eats, and she gets pleasure, and she is still growing, both physically and mentally.
She is taller and still so beautiful and one less topic to argue about means more peace in both our worlds. Truly, that goal is more important to me than broccoli.