Thanksgiving is only once a year and it can be an overwhelming time for picky eaters. You might spend hours and hours making an amazing Thanksgiving meal to only have your kids stick their nose at it and eat nothing!
We know how frustrating that can be!
In this article, we provide a number of tips on how to make this Thanksgiving less stressful and get your child to try more foods.
One of the reasons kids freak out during Thanksgiving is that there are a lot of special side dishes that kids might only have seen once or twice a year. When a food is foreign and new, your kid is more likely NOT to try it. You’re probably thinking “who doesn’t love a sweet potato casserole?” or “for the love of… just taste it!”
Need Thanksgiving Menu Ideas? Check out these amazing recipes we’ve curated from around the web:
- 35 Unique Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
- 37 Share Worthy Thanksgiving Desserts
- 20+ Traditional Thanksgiving Menu Ideas
Here are 4 easy steps to getting your children to gobble up their meals this holiday season. Your kids will be thankful you listened.
Have a Dry Run
One way to get kids more comfortable with unknown holiday foods is to have a dry run of the meal. Before you take out the holiday apron and get to cooking Thanksgiving dinner, have a Pre-Thanksgiving. It doesn’t have to be all in one day.
Over the course of the week, start offering a number of holiday sides. From green bean casserole to cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole to yams, the list goes on. Slowly introducing these foods will help de-stress your children on the holiday. Pre-exposure is a big step to helping kids overcome their picky eating habits!
Make Mealtime Fun
Another way to get kids to eat is to make a game out of it. If you make mealtime fun, your picky eater will be likely to eat the foods they normally wouldn’t dare touch.
A great thing you can do is make your meals miniature. One of our fans make this suggestion and we loved it! (thank you Jeanie) Everyone loves small versions of food, even kids. Make a small Cornish Game Hen instead of that monstrous turkey for the kids. Create miniature pies. Adorable and yum! How about serving baby glazed carrots to kids or little baby corn on the cob?
Let your kids serve themselves by offering the sides family style. Instead of asking your kids if they want some casserole, instead ask them if they want a big spoon or little spoon serving.
If you give kids a choice about how much to put on their plate, then that reduces the chances of getting in a power struggle about eating the food in the first place. Change the way you introduce the food and take the fight out of dinner.
At the dinner table, give them a choice of spoon size to use to serve themselves. You can have two spoons in the dish, a tablespoon and a teaspoon; and you can give them a choice if they wants to use the big spoon to serve more of the food or a small spoon.
You can also offer the food as a taste test. Let them use small sampling spoons, such as the ones you’d find at the ice cream shop; your child can sample all of the foods using these cute little spoons. This way your child has a chance to try all of the food and is one step closer to learning to love these sides.
You can also get a painter palette and place an assortment of foods on the tray; it’s a color wheel of holiday dishes.
In essence, you want kids to be in control of what they want and how much. Remember, the more options, the better. When it comes to kids, you always have to be open to creating a fun, engaging environment.
Add Some Spice into Their Life
What are some of the most common things kids enjoy in their food? Hint: it’s not vegetables.
The answer is sugar and cheese. Whether it’s sugar in their cereal or cheese on their grits, kids love sugar and cheese. So why not use this knowledge to your advantage.
Add some favorite seasonings to the foods that they normally wouldn’t touch. Studies show that getting kids to eat a less healthy version of a food will help them learn to like the food.
For example, adding cheese to broccoli will help teach kids to eat broccoli. Slowly reduce the amount of cheese until eventually all you are serving is broccoli. This is a better alternative than trying to force your kid to eat something he doesn’t want. If your kids eats steamed veggies, thats awesome!
Put Your Picky Eater to Work
Have your kids take part in making Thanksgiving dinner; I know this worked for me when I was a kid (and last year.)
Experts say that if you get kids to take part in creating a meal, they will be more likely to eat it.
Whether its adding the green beans to the green bean casserole or putting the cheese on the broccoli, creating food with your kids will not only get them to eat, but it will also create a great tradition for you and the whole family. So put the aprons on and get to cooking! The yams wont make themselves!
If you keep these simple steps in mind this holiday season, your little tikes will be sure to enjoy their meal and may even indulge in eating some vegetables and not overindulge in eating all that pumpkin pie. Remember, it’s a holiday, make sure you introduce your kids to what they’re eating, make it fun and let them take part in the cooking.
Share your favorite holiday traditions in the comments!
For more on helping your picky eaters eat during the holiday season check out 20+ Traditional Thanksgiving Menu Ideas, 35 Unique Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas and 37 Share Worthy Thanksgiving Desserts. And remember to further support Feeding My Kid and feeding yours, by liking us on Facebook and Twitter and following our YouTube channel, where mealtime is family time.