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food problem

  1. #1
    bsc1280 is offline Registered User
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    May 2012
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    HK
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    food problem

    Hi All,

    Our helper arrived around 15 days back. we eat indian food and obviously i dont expect her to eat the same if she does not like it. Right from the first day, I have been asking her to cook for herself, whatever she likes, i showed her the pinoy shop nearby and bought her vegertables & meat.
    But she said she will cook "tomorrow". that tomorrow never comes. so in the end, when I ask her what she had for lunch/dinner, she tells me she had milk, biscuits etc.
    Its just painful for me to have someone working for me and eating this instead of proper food. I cook the food for ourselves and always offer her to eat it.
    she has all the grocert for gerself but does not cook . btw i do give her time for it and she has 1-2 hours in afternoon to do this if she wants

    to make it short, I then give her money to buy food for philipono shop and it costs around 25-30$ but I cant do it everyday.
    Now can you suggest what I shall do? she has worked in dubai before and I have no idea how she survived. may be they would hire another helper to cook for her.
    now giving her food allowance is an option but honestly I am tight in budget and would want to avoit the extra expense if possible. esepecially when she can have much better food with all the groceries
    this goes to the extent of not having breakfast ( alhtough i have offered her bread, peanut buytter, egg, jam, noodles). its just like another kid in teh house. I have to ask her, remind her to have food and then also have to deal with what she would like to eat since she seems to be so choosy and seems to be allergic rto cooking :) for grocceries shopping for her food, i dont chose it. i just pay her and she is free to buy for herself

    she always tells me she knows how to cook and in last 16 days , cooked 1-2 times and seemed like she did know how to cook.
    she is OK in terms of other work. i was hoping to get her to learn some indian cooking but obviously thats not possible

    any suggestions please?

    btw she does not complain for not having food or not eating. but i know she cant work with that kind of diet. she just avoids all discussion on food. when I ask her about her food, thats when I come to know about what she had
    i fear she might lose weight and obivouisly wont survive for long with us like this. btw i offered her food allowance and she says its fine, she can cook and does not need it (but then does not cook anything)

  2. #2
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    First, I wouldn't sweat it. If she has just arrived she may be just adjusting to Hong Kong and Hong Kong life. She may be having some emotional problems or homesickness. She may not feel comfortable sharing these with you and that should be fine and totally accepted by you. When I'm not feeling very happy or homesick I also don't have much of an appetite.

    She may also not require as much food as you think she does. She may not be a "3 square meals/day" type of gal but may prefer to snack all day. I know people who live on Coca Cola and oreos for months at a time and actually have plenty of energy. Of course, I personally think this is detrimental to their health but somehow they do it. They're adults and they choose they way they eat.

    I think it is really overstepping bounds to refer to her as another child in the house that you have to "make eat" or "worry about their eating." Just accept, "She's an adult. She's survived this long on whatever she eats. She'll be okay." Then just keep an eye out. You said there are no other problems with her work and if that is the case there should be no problem with her food intake.

    Many, many people don't eat breakfast. Not a great health habit but it's so true. I rarely ate breakfast before I had children. You never know what she has stashed and may be snacking on throughout the day. It's actually healthier to eat frequent "small meals" (snacks) throughout the day than fewer and bigger meals. Definitely not good to just live on biscuits alone but again, that's her choice. Again, as she worked in Dubai she may have some other issues.

    We hired a lady in the past who had worked in Dubai before and she had serious fear issues. At dinner time she would literally go and cower in the corner (like literally squatting down and hiding in the dark kitchen) and quickly eat her food. That is what her previous employers expected her to do. So, there may be some negative association that she has with allowing her employer to see her eat as well. Unfortunately, for that and a myriad other reasons we had to let that helper go.

    Just keep on doing what you do. Come up with a plan that works for you whether its giving her a food allowance or stocking the fridge. Maybe explain to her, "Hey, I can't guess what you want to eat so next time, make a grocery list up for what you'd like to put in the fridge to eat, let me take a look at it and then you can buy those things at the store." If she says "Nothing" then literally just let her have "nothing." If she's doing this sort of thing to get attention she'll eventually wise up, hopefully. Otherwise, she'll find a way to survive. She's an adult, she gets to make her own choices about food.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  3. #3
    charade is offline Registered User
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    Thanka2 made some good points, particularly about her feeling that she should not look like she's eating too much. When my second helper joined, even though her own sister works for us and eats huge meals, she seemed to eat very little. We occasionally told her she's free to eat more (and I'm sure her sister conveyed to her that we don't track this stuff) but she would say she wants to get thin (she was on the chubby side) or just laugh. We left it. I think she eats more now. I think she does like to snack though - she's got a stash in her cupboard.

    Also, I'm Indian and both my helpers eat Indian food. I know, I'm very lucky...actually they both said that because they worked in the middle east they were sort of used to the spices... and recently I have seen them adding more chilli in their own food and making egg Indian style for breakfast. But there are definitely helpers who cannot stomach all the spice but most helpers I know learn to cook Indian food from recipes and with guidance although they don't eat it. I pretty much cannot cook so I gave my helper recipes and she makes some things really well. I also labelled the spices in a way she could understand - she has a simplified way of pronouncing some of the names so I just wrote that on the bottles.

    But all this takes time.

  4. #4
    Aava.Wong is offline Registered User
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    omg you're not alone! my helper is indian and she is stick thin and a vegetarian. she hardly eats anything and i tell her that she HAS to eat if she wants to live a healthy life.

    we give her food allowance and when we go shopping, i tell her to put whatever she wants to eat in our trolley (mostly she puts in chocolates, snacks, biscuits, pastries - which i dont count them as "food"). she also knows she can eat whatever she wants from the kitchen. i have to ask her what she had for breakkie/lunch/dinner and she replies saying that she is not hungry and don't feel like eating (wish i could feel that way as i've been meaning to shed few pounds!!)

    she does cook very nice meals for all of us so it's not like she doesn't know how to cook. i don't want to force her to eat if she doesn't want to eat and i think she gets annoyed if i ask her whether she had breakfast/lunch/dinner, so i have stopped asking. saying this, she hasn't been sick at all since she started working for us in december so guess i shouldn't moan too much about her eating habits or should i say non-eating habits? ><

  5. #5
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    you say you can't afford to give her a food allowance. we used to think that, too. with our first helper, she wanted to eat what we ate. it took her a while to get used to our different food: mexican, lebanese, greek, ukranian, american etc. she was happy with this arrangement for 5 years.

    when we hired her husband, he wanted his filipino food, so they switched to a food allowance. we have kept with that ever since, even with our new helpers (original one moved to canada). to be honest, i now much prefer to give the food allowance. we give each helper (we have 2) $250/week. they are free to pool their $ together to buy their food or to buy separately. we supply oil, salt, pepper, rice. the rest they buy themselves. it has really taken a load off knowing that they are buying/eating what THEY like. they take turns cooking most of the time. and they can have their own flavours. of course, we still offer them food once in a while. ie) new helper made enough spag bol to last our family of 4 for more than 3 days (including lunch & dinner!).... so, we gave them half and requested that next time she cut the amount down by 1/2. i think it is much cheaper for us to provide the food allowance than to provide the food.

  6. #6
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    I hear you!
    My helper has bad eating habits. Way too many sweets, junk food, packaged sugary drinks, fast food, white bread and buns from the local bakery. She often skips meals and just has cookies or chocolates.
    I know it's not a money issue, as we give her a good food allowance. Plus, chocolates, etc., are more expensive than normal groceries from the wet market.
    Technically she doesn't eat with us, but I'm pretty easygoing. I'll often offer her some of the food I'm making for myself. As I often cook for one, I frequently have a bit left over -- like I'll buy a whole stalk of celery but only need half.
    But very rarely does she take this food -- maybe if it's fried pork or something.
    At first I thought she was just being overly polite. But that wasn't it.
    Once, I made a cake for a friend's party, and it fell. It didn't taste bad, it just wasn't "pretty" enough to present at an event. When I asked my helper if she wanted it, she stood at the counter eating big chunks of it. So clearly she wasn't shy!
    A good friend laughed me "It's obvious she just doesn't want to eat your wheat bread or low-fat yogurt or skinless chicken breasts!"
    My husband and I did talk to her a few times about making healthy choices. We encourage her to eat more fruits, veg and grains. We've repeated that she can cook her own food in our kitchen -- there's usually a good 1.5 hours each afternoon when the baby naps and we're at work, and she has plenty of time.
    But, at the end of the day, she's an adult. If she wants to live off of cookies, so be it.
    She's a great helper who's cheerful and seemingly physically strong. So I'm going to leave her alone, as I'm not her mom.
    Last edited by Gracey; 09-13-2012 at 11:21 PM.

  7. #7
    Gracey is offline Registered User
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    Oh, and I agree with Carang.
    If you're eating quite high-quality groceries, it actually costs more for you to be giving her three meals a day out of your own food.
    My husband and I are both foodies, and we often eat organic or imported products. If she ate with us, it'd greatly increase our costs.
    A food allowance may actually save you money.

  8. #8
    bsc1280 is offline Registered User
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    thanks all

    but it has been less thana month
    sometimes she says she was waiting for me to give her food, i told her I have kids and cant really remember to "give" her food...she can take it from the fridge or make her own herself....have repeated this so many times

    i really cant take the headche of thingk about what is she going to eat...especially when she is soo choosy and wont eat our food

    she has not complained about food but I think she is grown up and cant survive with such diet..i know i am not her mom and cant force her to eat...but its annoying......

    on a seperate note, Aava.Wong, how did you find your indian helper from?
    I am really looking at some good agencies who specialize in sri lankan, indian, indonesian helper (in that order) . some agencies who really specialize in these so that they can cook our food annd there are less cultural issues.........I have seen some of these helpers on a few websites but those are very few in numbers.....do you know of any that specialize in these countires?
    please let me know

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