This is another entry that regresses all the way back to my foster parent training days, but has been confirmed many times as a houseparent. Children that come into care may have some very abnormal eating habits, the social workers that trained us referred to it as “Weaned on Nachos” they go from formula straight to junk food. I am not going to try and tell you how to help someone that has been weaned on nachos have better eating habits, but try and explain what it is and some of the examples I have seen. Dealing with the behavior is up the treatment team or facility policy.
Children that live in families where the focus is drugs and alcohol or living in poverty and just trying to survive are not likely to have parents and guardians that prepare meals according to the food pyramid. Their daily diets are often going to consist of things that are convenient and cheap. Ramon noodles, frozen convenience foods, deli foods from convenience stores, and children’s meals from fast food restaurants are staple foods. The children get so used to this diet that food you and I think of as normal – is foreign to them. That is: “Weaned on Nachos”
In the first group home we worked at, we had a girl that ate one of two things everyday before she was placed with us: either a “Cheeseburger Happy Meal” from McDonald’s or frozen burritos. At the time a 10 pack of frozen burritos could be purchased for about $2 and a “Happy Meal” was $1.99. We introduced her to several foods she had never eaten before: pot roast, meatloaf, green bean casserole, homemade lasagna, homemade mashed potatoes, and even rib-eye steak. She didn’t like any of it. She preferred frozen lasagna and instant mashed potatoes, never ate any vegetables, and didn’t at all appreciate the steak.
We currently have a girl that loves to eat ketchup sandwiches. When she was with her mother they would go around and collect ketchup packets from the fast food joints, buy a loaf of bread from the grocery store and go home and make ketchup sandwiches. They could eat for two or three days on a 75 cent loaf of bread.
We have had several children where Ramon Noodles made up the majority of their diet prior to placement. They would eat them cooked but often times would just crush them up and eat them like chips. Cold cereal (with or without milk) is also very popular.
I’m sure if you spend anytime at all working with children in placement you will have several of your own opportunities to care for a kid “Weaned on Nachos” Don’t get offended when they turn their nose up on your home cooked meal, to them it is very strange.