Is your child a fussy eater? Dreading the move abroad and the new foods it will bring? I’ve teamed up with Allianz Care to bring you some tips to help, before you go or if you are already living as an expat.
Moving a country with children can cause some concerns. Where to send them to school? Will they settle in? How much will they miss family from home? Even the small worries are bothersome like, will they be happy with their new room? Will they adjust to the weather or eat the food?
Food is more of a challenge for some families than others. If hours spent at the dinner table coaxing, reasoning and bribing your children to eat sounds familiar, you may experience issues helping children adapt to new foods when beginning life as an expat family.
What causes fussy eating?
Like many traits, fussy eating in children has been linked to both nature and nurture.
Research published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry showed half of the identical twins tested were fussy eaters due to their genes. But don’t worry, parents can still modify this behavior even if it is genetic.
HOW TO PREPARE EXPAT KIDS FOR FOOD IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY
There are things you can do to prepare your child for food in their new home. Try these suggestions as part of building up excitement for the move:
Try before you go
If you live in or near a large city, chances are there is a variety of ethnic restaurants from around the world.
Try and find a restaurant serving the dishes you may expect to see in your host country.
Allow lots of time for the meal so no one is rushed and makes a big deal out of it, especially for younger children.
In advance of getting there see if they offer half portions for children or consider ordering several entrées so your child can pick and choose what they would like to eat.
Bring familiar foods
Help your child feel in control by allowing them to choose between two of their favorite snacks and pack a supply so everything is not totally alien in your new home.
Try new things outside of mealtimes
Forcing children to stay at a table until they eat is rarely successful. Provide new or disliked foods outside of mealtimes and praise their efforts if they touch, smell or taste it.
WHEN YOU GET THERE
Involve your child
Although generally not recommended, give your child some say in purchases on the first food shop.
Try several options
This may involve buying three varieties of cereal, it will be well worth it if your child finds a new favorite.
Find a buffet
Most larger cities will have at least one buffet restaurant and in some cultures, it is a really popular way to eat. Buffets allow fussy expat kids to choose what they want to eat and try small amounts of new food at a time.
Make trying new things fun
Instead of trying new food at breakfast on their first day of school, have a ‘taste test’ on a quiet day. Put various foods into different bowls, not at mealtime and allow them to taste test them and choose a favorite.
As they get braver introduce the idea of a blind taste test, for fun and to discourage food neophobia (a refusal to try new foods).
It is important to look after a child’s physical health and wellbeing with comprehensive international health insurance.
Although we can’t guarantee these ideas will result in fuss-free mealtimes, they are certainly worth a try.
Are your children fussy eaters? How do you deal with it?