Archives for posts with tag: nutrition

Meal-time can be a blessing for families who gather ’round the table’.  It can also be a curse for the cook if picky eaters reign, or too hectic of a schedule makes meal planning, preparation, and consumption just one more thing to get done in a hurry.  I have learned to get meat out of the freezer the night before, prep two casseroles at once to freeze the second, and put dinner in the crock-pot nearly every morning!

Kids newly placed with an adoptive family can make meal-time a battleground.  They can be overly picky just to be rebellious, reject delicious food just because it is new to them, or refuse a dish because of bad memories associated with it.  Though they might have nearly starved to death from neglect, they might starve themselves in their new home just because they want to.

How can Dad and Mom, adopted kids, and the rest of the family make meal time a positive event each day?  The right frame of mind regarding meal-time can make it the primary bonding and fellowship time each day for a family.  It is crucial to long-term family success.  Here are some things that we have had learned:

  1. Discuss with your child what things they like to eat; talk to them about your favorites, and the family’s favorites
  2. Discuss nutrition with your child, and talk about how God provides good food for us so we can have strong, healthy bodies
  3. Take the time needed to plan, shop for, and prepare delicious and nutritious meals, eliminating other time-takers in your schedule
  4. Plan meals so that at least one item is something your child is used to, and enjoys eating
  5. Plan meals to have color, taste, and texture contrast to pique appetites
  6. Take time at the grocery store to shop with your child, letting him/her suggest a few things each trip
  7. Serve at least three  items each meal so the child can enjoy eating at least two; sliced fresh fruit is always an appealing choice
  8. Everyone should have at least one bite of each item served
  9. When eating out or at someone else’s home, these rules still apply; but, avoid over-correction at the Holidays!

Meal time should be a positive experience for each person at the table.  This means teaching table manners.  So as not to overwhelm children, try introducing a new one each week, with gentle reminders about that specific one.  Correct once, then overlook until the next meal to avoid it becoming a battleground.  Try these:

  • begin each meal with thanking the Lord, and praying for family member (and others’) needs
  • pass food to the right when first serving up; for seconds, say the person’s name closest to the dish, then ask them to pass it to you
  • chew your food 20 times to get saliva flowing for proper digestion, and swallow it before you talk
  • try to go around your plate when eating, one bite of each the go to the next item
  • take time to enjoy eating, not just gobbling food down
  • take turns talking so everyone has a chance
  • parents ask open-ended questions to start conversations
  • always thank those who prepared the meal, and who worked to provide it; Dad and Mom set the example here.

It is a good idea to end the meal on a positive note.  We conclude either breakfast or dinner (based on that day’s schedule) with a family devotion.  We start with a hymn (I purchased a dozen hymnals at a garage sale for 50 cents a piece), then Dad uses a devotional book to read a scripture passage, and ask questions.  We pray, and then close with a second hymn.  This puts everyone in the right frame of mind to start or end the day.

We have learned to avoid correcting a child at the table.  If someone acts up, they are excused to ‘time out’, and then their behavior is dealt with after the meal, one-on-one.  This allows others who were being appropriate to enjoy the meal-time.

Finally, I have a few ‘no-brainer’ meals for days that just are too hectic.  PB&J sandwiches, taco salad, spaghetti, fish sticks, and frozen pizza have saved my sanity more than once!  My husband doesn’t complain as long as I never fix peanut butter and jelly when he is home to eat!  Once again, it is both Mom and Dad who hold the key to success.

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One of our family’s favorite classic movies is the musical production of Oliver!  The scene and accompanying song wherein the street orphans are singing about the wonderful kinds of food they dream about, but can never have, is near and dear to us.

We are foodies in our family.  We love to grow it, harvest it, prepare it, eat it, and talk about it at the table after we have stuffed ourselves.  No one enjoys it more than our two older adopted kids.  My very tall 13 y.o. daughter, who seems to have the most incredible metabolism ever and so is always in perfect shape – never the slightest bit overweight – will eat 3 and 4 helpings of everything, matching the appetite of my 200 pound, 21 y.o. son who physically labors all day.  Perhaps only once did I lovingly suggest to her that she needed to let others have second helpings before she dished up her third! 

I love it that our farm produces such healthy food, and we can prepare it in such a delicious and nutritious way that my adopted kids can relax at the meal table, eating to their hearts’ content.  We seem to be passed most of their food issues.  Orphans who have been severely neglected, often have the greatest struggles with appropriate food consumption when placed in adoptive homes.  Our two older adopted kids struggled with:

  • gorging themselves with food so quickly they choked
  • ate so fast they didn’t chew enough to savor the taste, or make food digestible before they swallowed
  • ate only carbs, neglecting fruit and vegetables until the end when there was no more room in their bellies to consume greens
  • overate sweets, sometimes going for 6 servings minimum at buffet lines or potlucks
  • stole food from the pantry and fridge, hoarding it in their room or other secret stash places on our farm
  • lied about the food stealing even though we told them they could eat anything, anytime
  • ate with both hands simultaneously and talked with food in their mouths 
  • snacked so much between meals they couldn’t eat the nutritious food on the table
  • literally experiencd brain-freeze because there was too much to choose from at restaurants; it overwhelmed them and they couldn’t order for themselves
  • obsessed about food constantly, and asked over and over again daily when the next meal would be served
  • worried and focused way too much on whether they were too skinny or fat, when neither had any issues in reality

With extreme patience, creative problem solving, consistent schedules, and table training we have helped our adopted kids realize that:

  1. they will never go without a meal in our home
  2. meals will be served 3 times a day on schedule, or we’ll let everyone know ahead of time if different
  3. dishes are carefully planned for nutritional value and complimentary flavors, and should be eaten in rotation
  4. desserts are a wonderful treat to be enjoyed after the nutritious meal, but not at every meal
  5. snacks are for getting through to the next meal, not in place of it
  6. they can appropriately ask permission to have a snack between meals, and eat it at the kitchen table
  7. table manners are important for individual dignity, as well as the comfort of other folks around the table or adjoining restaurant areas
  8. they can select appropriate restaurant menu items and confidently order for themselves
  9. food is a gift from the Lord that is meant to give us health, energy, satisfaction, and fellowship
  10. stealing is never appropriate, nor necessary, as what we have is for all to share
  11. it is okay and right to discuss problems and issues surrounding food to achieve the right frame of mind regarding same
  12. have a good self-image about their bodily confirmation, and are not overly concerned about their physical appearance as teens
  13. meal time is fellowship time; enjoying conversation at each meal, with a family bible study at least one meal a day, promotes lifelong relationships and sets a firm spiritual foundation

Adopted kids, especially those that come to their forever family as toddlers or older, have survival instincts when it comes to many things, especially concerning food.  Time and attention will diminish these sub-concious natural tendencies with careful actions by concerned parents.

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