Food/Eating Issues

Children may come to our homes with many challenges surrounding food. Children may have spent time wondering when they would get to eat their next meal or may have fought other children for food. These are some helpful reminders that might help:

  • Have consistent meal times.
  • Make meal times calm experiences, not hasty.
  • Remember that this is a trust issue. It may take time, reassurance, and consistency before the child trusts you.
  • Hoarding: Allow them to keep healthy snacks in view. If you find it hidden, tell them they don’t have to hide it and set it on a bedside table.
  • Offer food purposefully every couple of hours.
  • Keep food available at all times in the kitchen.
  • Gorging: It is normal for some children to eat as much and as fast as they can. Help teach appropriate amounts of food per bite by modeling or feeding if possible. In the beginning, it is okay for the child to initially eat so much that he/she throws up.
  • Anxiety/Tantrums surrounding food: Expect children to be anxious about food and have tantrums in terms of wanting food and/or waiting for it. Lessen anxiety by having a small, healthy snack available even if you’re cooking dinner. Don’t use food or prohibiting food as a punishment or discipline in any way.
  • Texture preferences/dislikes: Be aware of sensory issues and remember that it may take some time to adapt to certain textures. Offer different textured foods but don’t force them. Look for texture patterns with food dislikes.
  • Refusal to certain foods: It is okay if your child does not like certain foods and it actually reveals trust when they can tell you “no” to foods or when they can stop eating before their plate is clean. Continue to offer but don’t force.
  • Eating/food issues can be a lifelong struggle.