101 Foster Care Tips: The Importance of Healthy Eating
In the third part of our weekly series we investigate and explore one of the biggest, yet often overlooked issues in foster care; the importance of eating healthy.
In recent years, various celebrities and Government initiatives have beaten the drum for healthy eating, and none more so than the recent campaign by celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, who wants the Government to introduce a tax on sugary drinks.
The eating habits of children and young people are learned behaviours, so to create an environment whereby children can make healthy food choices is one of the best steps you can make as a foster parent. Whether it’s erratic eating, under eating or unhealthy eating, children and young people who find themselves in care may have experienced different things during mealtimes, and that’s why it’s important you approach the matter of healthy eating with an open and non-judgemental mindset.
Healthy eating has a huge impact on the behaviour, well being and future outlook of a child, so we’ll always take the time to educate all our foster carers on the subject, as well as provide useful hints and tips to help you get the best out of mealtimes. We’ve even produced an insightful article on the necessary nutrients for children and young people.
On the subject of food and nutrition, our Fostering Services Manager, Joanne, suggests that foster parents should ‘include the child or young person in the preparation of the meal and encourage their suggestions for planning meals. Make food fun.’
What our foster carers say about promoting healthy eating:
“You just need to start where they are, and then work upwards. You can’t force them to eat something just because it’s. It won’t work.’ – Alison
“Often they have come from a poor background and have not had a massive choice of food – so if you give them options, they will try different things that might be healthier.” – Cathryn
“Kids will be kids at the end of the day – they want what’s not good for them. But by being creative you can get them eating veg. If you add carrots to the spag bol, they hardly notice.” – Elaine G
“You don’t want them to feel that choosing the healthy option is in any way a punishment. We started to offer fruit as a reward and it has worked. Our boy has started to choose the wholesome option over sweets.” – Elaine P
We understand that every foster parent has their own preferred methods of promoting healthy eating within the relationship. However, we feel that a lot of it comes down to whether you’re leading by example in terms of the food and drink you’re eating together as a family, if you’re continuously praising the child for any healthy food choices they make, as well as allowing them to make their own choices and suggestions regarding food.
Eating healthy and nutritious food is a critical factor to the success of every fostering relationship, but if you require any further advice or information on the subject, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experienced social workers today.