Holiday tips for families with picky eaters.
Photograph by Valua Vitaly
Holiday Tips for Families with Picky Eaters.
When there is a holiday there usually is a feast. Where there is a feast with a family who has a picky eater, there is stress. Do family and holiday gatherings create more stress for you and your picky eater? Worrying about your child's poor eating habits can make anyone's holiday gathering more stressful. Here are a few tips that may help you get through the holiday festivities. These tips may help open the lines of communication and understanding. It may also help change the dynamics during meal times. Here are 5 tips that will make your holidays a more memorable and enjoyable experience with your picky eater.
1) Have your picky eater eat before your guests show up, this will avoid some stress on parents and kids. Kids are busy bodies during holiday events and sometimes they are overwhelmed by the crowd and excitement. You want to make sure your kids don't go for hours without eating or else they may get cranky. Kids also tend to struggle to sit and eat when there is so much going on around them. Being fed prior to the festivities will grant you and your child greater chance of enjoying the time with friends and family.
2) Don't put pressure on picky eaters to try new foods the day of a party or a family gathering. The day your house is filled with guests is not a day to get your picky eaters to try something new. Your kids may be just as anxious as you and the last thing you want is a negative comment from a guest regarding your kids poor eating habits/behaviors. Do give kid friendly foods so they can choose to explore at their own will.
3) Share some special time with your child. Parents with picky eaters usually struggle to enjoy meal times and it creates tension in their relationship. Alleviate this by enjoying time with them while preparing for the festivities. Set time aside and let them choose a dish to make together. It should be one they enjoy eating, even if it's the only food they eat. Kids love to have a choice and they certainly love to feel in control. The holidays are about making memorable moments and setting traditions, make it a day they will always remember by allowing them to contribute and it will make them feel special. Make it extra fun by making it look festive in a holiday bowl and making it kid friendly. If time allows have your picky eater help you make other dishes. This will expose them to new smells and touching new textures. It's ok to get a little dirty and have fun with it. Take pictures as keepsakes.
4) Reminisce and talk to your child about your holiday childhood memories. Kids love to listen to all kinds of stories. They especially love the funny ones. Include what traditional foods were on the table when you were a child, what the kids table looked like, who sat there and if you liked sitting there. Don't forget to include your favorite foods and even those foods you didn't like. This way kids can connect with their parents and feel that they may understand how they feel about the foods they tend to refuse.
5). Praise and enjoy your child's small successful moments. Success can mean smelling or touching a new food, allowing an aversive food or even using a different brand of food. You will be surprised how a simple praise can motivate a child to have more successful moments. This will also change how you measure success and it will help you be more positive during mealtime.
Holiday celebrations are for sharing time love and food with family. These simple tips will help reduce the anxiety about how to prepare, what to expect and a possibility of a better outcome with your picky eater during the holidays. I hope you find these tips helpful.
By Carmen Fantauzzi CCC-SLP