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Au pair food dislikes - how do other host families deal with this?

(14 Posts)
MGMidget Mon 02-Sep-13 07:39:48

I wondered how other host parents deal with au pair food dislikes? Our new au pair arrived 3 days ago and the list of foods she doesn't like is getting longer and longer. We did, of course, discuss food when interviewing and got the standard 'I eat everything' answer. Well, she mentioned lactose intolerance but we were happy to accept that! Unfortunately, since arriving its becoming apparent that there's a lot of foods she doesn't like and they are foods we eat a lot of. She doesn't seem to eat any green vegetables for example. If it was just a few foods I would be happy to work around this when planning meals or have substitutes for her but now, with a growing list, its starting to become a real pain.

I'm wondering how best to deal with this? I really don't want to have separate food budgets/separate meals all the time. Nor do I want to have to cook her special food as well as preparing another meal for me and DH. And, I don't want us to be forced to change our diet to fit in with her all the time. although I'd be prepared to include some of her food preferences in some meals as DH and I do eat more or less 'everything'. If she eats her evening meal with DS (he eats earlier than the adults) then I'm concerned he's going to pick up on her food dislikes as he'll probably ask her why she's not having any vegetables or why she's eating different food to him!

I'm wondering what to do about the new au pair's food fussiness? I'm thinking through some potential solutions, but one of them I'm seriously considering is telling her its not going to work. Alternatively, I'm wondering whether to just advise her that we can't accommodate this many food dislikes and she'll need to make an effort to fit in with us. This will probably lead to an early departure though if she's that fussy about food! Another idea is to have her cook for us a couple of nights a week and cook dishes she likes (she advises me of the ingredients I need to get in advance) as she did this in her last au pair job. She then needs to eat with us on a couple of nights and make an effort to eat what we cook. On other nights we might have to settle for separate meals but I'll stipulate that she's not to discuss her food dislikes with DS as I don't want him copying her!

I'm sure so many other host parents must have faced this dilemma. Any suggestions of what I should do or what did you do in a similar situation? I'd like to chat about it with her and have some alternative solutions to discuss if possible! Thanks for your help.

Firefox Mon 02-Sep-13 23:05:26

How is she otherwise? If she is good with your dc, pleasant etc then I would probably have a chat with her to work something out that you both are relatively happy with. Your suggestions sound reasonable enough.

MissMalonex2 Tue 03-Sep-13 10:36:53

We used to say you are free to eat with us if we are cooking and like what we are eating. Otherwise, please feel free to help yourself to food that you would like / when you would like. Also, we let our ap add some food ingredients she likes to the shopping list (within reason - no caviar wink)

Our ap often eats with the DCs in late afternoon and is out at weekends so often doesn't eat with us in the evenings. We always keep her food if we've made meals at the w/e then and she is out

Strix United States Tue 03-Sep-13 19:38:18

This would not fly with me. I ask a lot about nutrition and what the au pair / nanny likes to eat himself/herself and I expect the answers to be true and complete. You say she told you she eats everything. But that tours out not to be true.

My contract also says he/she is expected to lead by example. That means eating veg with them when you are persuading them to do the same. It means encouraging them to be active by being active her/himself.

I think I would lay down the law sooner rather than later. But then nutrition is my obsession, so I might get a bit more excited about this topic than most people would.

MGMidget Tue 03-Sep-13 23:04:27

Thank you. We had a chat this morning and its making a difference. She's making an effort to eat what we eat and told me not to exclude kidney beans from my chilli con carne for example as she would try and eat them. She did try but had to pick them out! She's now explained she was a very fussy eater as a child but has got a bit better!

She's also happy to cook some of her favourite dishes for us. I feel relieved that she's accepted she needs to make some effort to try different foods and be a bit less fussy!

She is good company at dinner and I think will be good with DS. Now we've had the chat I am more hopeful now than yesterday that we can make the food situation work.

Thanks for everyone's comments.

Strix United States Wed 04-Sep-13 07:57:46

Hmmm....

I'm glad you are happy with the result. But I would be more than a little annoyed that she lied on her application.

But, then I have very little tolerance for finicky eaters. I tell my kids they can eat what they are served or leave the table and come back at the next meal. There will be noting on offer before the next meal if they elect to leave the table. (I'm not so strict with the two year old).

Any I give the au pair / nanny strict instructions that she is not to prepare a new meal for them.

Don't be surprised if your DS starts turning his nose up at a variety of foods and picking them out of the food you have made him.

ihearsounds Wed 04-Sep-13 08:05:09

I am wondering what else she lied about.

Strix United States Wed 04-Sep-13 08:28:36

Also, I would give her the job of cooking for both herself and DS so they can eat together. Then you can make what you like for yourself and your DH.

And I would absolutely expect her to lead by example at the table. Surely this is one of the core roles of her job... or maybe I'm just a freak about nutrition (and I do accept this is a possibility).

MGMidget Wed 04-Sep-13 09:35:55

Thanks, yes. Lying is annoying. We've had this before. DH initially thought it might be a cultural thing to say she eats everything (possibly meaning all the common foods in her home country) but its clearly not just that and I now know that she knows it. It smacks of desperation for a job which does of course make we wonder what other lies will come to light. She's definitely on probation at the moment until we see how it's going to work out. If she'd given me her long list of food dislikes at the interview stage we wouldn't have taken it any further.

chloeb2002 Wed 04-Sep-13 11:34:24

I had never asked my aps what they ate until I found one that only ate chicken.. No other meats! Big shock! I worked around it easily in hindsight wasn't that bad. I do now ask mind! My current ap doesn't eat fish. Simple she can eat everything but fish .. She can make herself something.. She can not bother! All acceptable!
I did learn some time later when my chicken eating ap came back to visit that she went on a trip to South America .. Had to eat beef and pork... Learnt she liked it! Not as much as chicken .. But eats it now! Similarly to your ap.. On discussion it was fine to add stuff she didnt like and she ate around it. Mac and cheese fur example.. I add bacon.. So she either just ate it.. Or picked it out!
I used to allow aps to buy whatever they wanted as part of the grocery shop online.. But have that up pretty quick! wink

MGMidget Wed 04-Sep-13 22:29:59

I've interviewed quite a few au pairs who were vegetarian or other special diets such as halal. Usually my interview questions uncover this but our current one still tells people she eats everything. I heard her do it again today when she was invited to a barbecue!

We have had au pairs with bad eating habits too. We had one who would have a bag of crisps on her plate with every meal and never drank water, only coke! Thankfully she didn't last long for other reasons as our DS was screaming for crisps with his meals too!

ivykaty44 Wed 04-Sep-13 22:32:26

I'm wondering how best to deal with this?

tell her outright

you told me at the interview that you eat everything - so I will cook everything it is unfair now to change your mind on the question you were asked and answered me truefully

CloudyBayDrainageSystem Thu 05-Sep-13 05:25:41

This would be totally unacceptable to me and I would lay down the law on this.

I don't give a monkeys whether my au pairs stuff themselves with coke and crips and the like, but they do it in their own rooms and they never bring their food fads to the dinner table. If kids see this fussy behaviour they will think they can mimic it.

My kids eat what they're given, or they eat dry bread and fruit. End of. I don't indulge my kids so I'm certainly no going to indulge the adults round the table. She said she eats anything so call her on this, tell her she is being an entitled madam and you will not tolerate her teaching your kids bad behaviour.

Saying that, I would try to be a bit sensitive around tastes/dishes that are not necessarily universal -eg chilli/sausages/curry. We've had lots of people who've had Mediterranean diets, so we try to stick to universal stuff mostly. But if she's spitting out tomatoes from the salad and similar then I would be raging at her.

But then I am very intolerant of behaviour that sends bad messages to the kids (our poor nanny had to hide her spider phobia for years), so perhaps I'm a bit extreme over this one..

MGMidget Fri 06-Sep-13 17:06:40

Thanks everyone. All helpful comments. Yes, I will be getting firmer on this. Fortunately our DS eats separately most of the time as he eats early and goes to bed early. Therefore he's not going to be exposed to her food fussiness often. I'd be concerned about having her cook for herself and DS regularly because she'll either never cook him green vegetables or she won't eat them ( in which case he'll stop eating them!). Luckily what seems to work best for all of us is for her to eat with us adults after DS is in bed. I'm serving up the usual food and she's eating around what she doesn't like. That behaviour as several of you pointed out won't be acceptable in front of DS though so I think I'm going to have to say I expect her to start trying to eat it. It makes me feel like I'm parenting her though!

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