Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around food, family, and giving thanks. Thanksgiving is meant to be an enjoyable holiday, yet sometimes can be a challenging day for parents of picky eaters. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to appease picky eaters without sacrificing nutrition, straying from holiday traditions, or creating a lot of extra work.
- Make sure there is at least one food you know your child will like. Wherever Thanksgiving meal will be served, make sure to offer or bring at least one food that you know your child will eat. Doing so will ensure your child will have something to eat and shows your child that you care about their preferences, too.
- Recruit your child to help you plan the family meal. Ask your child if they would be interested in helping you with the menu for Thanksgiving. Emphasize that you plan to offer at least one protein, a grain, a vegetable, and fruit, to show what a balanced meal is made up of. You can mention the foods that you are definitely planning to include, like a turkey as a protein and stuffing as a grain, but ask if your child has ideas for the other food groups. Finding recipes together can be fun and will make your child more likely to try the food that they picked out.
- Ask children to help in the kitchen. Inviting children to help with meal preparation and cooking can make them more interested in the Thanksgiving meal. Give children age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen, such as a toddler washing vegetables, or school-age child mashing potatoes.
- Use food bridges. Once a food is accepted, find similarly colored, flavored, or textured “food bridges” to expand the variety of foods your child will eat. For example, if your child likes pumpkin pie, try including mashed sweet potatoes on his or her Thanksgiving plate.
- Try to make mealtime enjoyable for all. Focus on enjoying your time together and keeping the day relaxing. If not everything goes exactly as planned, know that it is alright and that celebrating a day of gratitude together with loved ones is the most important part. Know that you have prepared a balanced meal and made efforts to engage your child in the day. Try not to worry about what your child ends up eating, it is only one meal and the day as a whole is more important.
For more information see Healthychildren.org