Foster children have a unique set of challenges that each foster carer must help them navigate. Working as a team makes it easier to get through the tough stuff, but it is always important for adults to establish boundaries and positive habits in their homes. One area where this could not be more true is with food and eating, and here is some advice about how to promote great practices in this area.
The Overarching Responsibility
The greatest thing about becoming a foster parent is that you are able to positively impact a child’s life who needs input and guidance in lots of areas. This overarching responsibility is vast but important in so many ways. When you get into how to eat right and live well, foster children are given vital information about self-management and positive behaviours. So, how can it be put into practice?
Leading by Example
The easiest thing to do, perhaps, as adults, is to lead by example. While this means you will have to take a look at your own habits, this is not necessarily a bad thing! You can’t expect a child in your home to eat well and engage with your narrative if you are contradicting it with your actions. So, step back from the junk cupboard, and think about how you can get involved.
Getting Them Involved
There is no better way to establish positive habits than to do it collaboratively. After all, a young person who is told what they must do instead of being involved in the decision is far less likely to engage on any authentic level. Help them sit down and meal plan and let them take the lead with food shops (to a certain extent) so that the experience is a positive one and they have control over it.
Being Active Together
It is great for families of all shapes and sizes to be active together. Whether you are a family that fosters or one that doesn’t, physical activity is important and something that everyone can enjoy together. Not only is it a fantastic way to grow the relationship bond, but it is also extremely important for the ultimate goal of eating healthy and staying fit. So, explore the opportunities for family sports sessions at your local leisure centre, or invest in some bikes and go off for a weekend to explore and make exercise fun, accessible and special.
Coping Strategies for Regulation
One thing that people with diverse backgrounds who may have experienced certain types of trauma often do is lean on food as a crutch. Whether that is undereating, overeating, or binging on specific food groups (usually sugar and junk varieties), all of these issues need tackling head on. A great step to take is to introduce healthier coping strategies for the young person’s regulation tactics. For instance, leaning on and consuming lots of energy drinks is a terrible habit to get into, and as adults, we know this. Kids don’t, and it is our job to teach and redirect.
Healthy food habits are important for all ages, and foster carers have a great opportunity to impart some wisdom and create positive habits.