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Surviving Holiday Meals with Picky Eaters (Part Two): Thanksgiving Dinner

Posted By Justine Dombroski, MS, CCC-SLP

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The holidays can be a stressful time for families, especially those with picky eaters.  Most holiday traditions center around food and, unfortunately, many of these foods are not high on the “preferred food lists” of picky eaters (e.g., green bean casseroles, Brussels sprouts, etc). 

Here are some tips to help turn the Thanksgiving meal into opportunities for positive experiences with new foods. Pick and choose which may work for your child! 

  1. Encourage your child to be a part of the set-up. Giving assistance as need be, invite him/her to carry food to the table, and even serve family members if possible. 
  2. Seat your child next to someone who will model good eating habits and positive interactions with foods, especially if that person is a child close to their age. A little peer pressure can go a long way! 
  3. Create a plate for your child with a small amount of what everyone else is eating. Try to avoid having foods touch on the plate. 
  4. Encourage your child to positively interact with the food on his/her plate.  This will look different for each child. Some children can be pushed to try small amounts of the food on their plates. Others may only be able to “kiss” each food, and others still may only be able to touch/play with their food using a utensil.
  5. Combine foods your child likes with foods that are new or less preferred. For example, top sweet potatoes with marshmallows or syrup, or bring ketchup to combine with mashed potatoes. Try anything that may make new foods more appealing.
  6. Keep a bowl nearby where children can say “goodbye” to foods they can no longer tolerate. 
  7. Try to stay calm and stress-free if the meal doesn’t go as planned. Provide encouragement to your child, and praise them for tasting or interacting with new foods. 

If you have any questions on how to make meals more manageable, please contact us

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