Helping your Picky eater this Holiday Session
Holidays are full of food and family, which is an exciting and stressful experience. Today I want to discuss a few tips and strategies to help you and your picky eater enjoy the holidays. I have always found it important to keep the stress level as low as possible during meals. Some of the ways we can reduce the stress during holiday meals is prepare for the changes by discussing what to expect, and practicing before the big day. Knowing what to expect will help children succeed and help make the holidays enjoyable for everyone!
- Discuss who will be at the holiday meal, where it will be held and what new foods they might expect to see.
- Establish mealtime rules, such as “you must stay in your seat”, “no commenting or making noises at non-preferred foods”, “you can spit food into a napkin if you do not like it”, etc.
- Discuss what food might be expected at the meal. Try and relate the foods to other that the child does like. If your child has never had mashed potatoes, but likes French fries, you might explain that they are both made from potatoes.
- Try to reassure your child that the same “mealtime rules” will apply. Let friends and family members know what the mealtime rule are for your child, and that you would appreciate them not trying to impose new rules for your child.
- Try making some of the food items that will be served prior to the holiday so the child can become more comfortable with the way it looks.
- Try making the same food in several different ways and have children make comparisons with their various senses. When you cook it one way it may look different, so have kids identify the way that looks the most appealing to them. If they have a say in the way its prepared they may be more willing to eat it!
- Plan a trip to the store to buy some of the ingredients with the child so they can help in the process of making the food. Some holiday items like cranberries can be “scary” when prepared, but are less scary before they are cooked. Making cranberries is a simple process, have your child help with the process they may be willing to try them if they cooked them.
- Try making and eating each food that will be served for the holiday meal 1-2 weeks before. Do not try to introduce everything at once. Simply add 1-2 new foods to a meal of 2-3 preferred foods so your child can experience putting some on their plate before the big day.
- Many children require multiple exposures to food before they accept them. The more practice your child gets before the holiday the greater the chance for success.
- By preparing new foods before the holiday kids will have the opportunity to feel, taste, and spit foods out without everyone watching them at the holiday table.
- Let your child experience the food without the fear of having to eat it. Kids also may be more interested in trying it when they feel a sense of pride from making the food themselves.
- If your child has a favorite plate, fork or cup bring this to the holiday meal so the child has a sense of familiarity.
- Use a divider plate so that foods can remain separated from each other can help decrease anxiety about foods touching.
- Serve small portions of foods so kids can feel they accomplished something even if they only try one bite!
- Allow for the use of “transition foods”, often kids will eat non-preferred foods if it’s covered in ketchup, ranch dressing, or other condiments. While you might not fine it appealing your child does so let them use it for now.
- Don’t serve a different meal for your picky eater. Try and prepare at least one food that will be served to everyone that your child will eat.
- Try making their meals look more appealing by adding extra marshmallows to the sweet potatoes, or ketchup to the turkey.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about helping your picky eater this holiday season and let us know how your eating experience was this year!