Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Food Feuds

Can you imagine sitting down to dinner every single night to something you've never eaten before?

Unfortunately, that's what my two foster daughters are dealing with since they moved into my home.

We're one of those really strange families that eats dinner together almost night of the week. Shoot, most of the time we all eat breakfast together too. All this family bonding time and healthy food options are really throwing my girls for a loop!

I've been playing detective as much as I possibly can. Food has been an issue in their past. I just don't know what the problems were. They don't hoard. (whew!!) But they do tell me they remember going hungry when others ate around them. They tell me that all they were allowed to eat was sandwiches, ramen noodles, and breakfast cereal. And I know they didn't eat together as a family! But I'm having a hard time discerning how much of this "history" is real and how much of it is imagined.

Because if you asked them right now, they'd probably tell you all they get to eat are peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

Every. single. transition. is a trigger for my girls. Waking up in the morning. Eating breakfast. Getting dressed for school. Coming home from school. Eating a snack. Doing homework. Deciding what to play before supper. Sitting down together as a family to eat. Etc. etc. My girls have literally gotten so nervous at meal time that they will purposely pick a fight so they have a reason to stomp off out of the room.

We have had to add way more "structure" than I'm used to -- and I've always had a pretty structured home life!! We try to do everything at the same time every day. I do my best to keep things as predictable as possible. And we added family Food Rules. These are posted right next to the dining room table.

1. One bite of everything must go on your plate.
2. Eat what you want from what is being served.
3. Peanut butter and jelly is always available to eat. Water is always available to drink.
4. Mom or Dad will choose your snack options. If you don't like what is offered, see Rule #3.

I'm trying my best to serve foods that my girls will enjoy. But, to my dismay, they opt for PB&J almost 95% of the time. They'll eat breakfast. But that's about it. Apparently, I've gone from being a pretty good cook to someone that only makes "nasty" food. Precious won't even try the new things. MissArguePants will put the tiniest amount on her tongue, screw up her face, and then ask for a sandwich.

I try to not take it personally. I try to make foods that should be familiar to them. But not only are they completely new to eating home cooked food - but I grew up and learned how to cook in the Midwest. A lot of the food I serve is completely different that what is served down here in general. They are from The Valley where everything is Mexican! Not Midwest Taco Johns.... not Central Texas Tex-Mex... but true Mexican! There are cuts of meat in the grocery store I've never seen before! Anyone for chicken feet? How about some menudo (soup made from cow stomach)? Maybe some barbacoa (stew made from cow head)?

So, every day they sit down to something that's unfamiliar to them. Every day they complain. Every day they eat PB&J. Food Feuds - definitely more than just a show on the Food Network!


Cheryl said...

I dare you to serve chicken feet. =)

Maggie said...

We had the same issue with our last two boys. EVERYTHING I cooked was a big deal and it was all gross in one way or another.
I know how frustrating that can be! It sounds like you're doing a great job of consistency though!

jendoop said...

Don't take it personally.

Out of all the issues our foster son is progressing in, eating is very very slow. On the days he refuses to eat dinner I give him a pediakids protein shake just to be sure he's getting nutrients that will help him recover and grow.