With the holidays fast-approaching, parents can often find it difficult to prevent their child from skipping the holiday meal and going straight for the sweet stuff. If you have a picky eater, it can be hard to steer them in right direction when it comes to making good food choices, and the holidays are no exception. The task of getting through a holiday meal without a total meltdown can be challenging and frustrating for everyone involved. Here are 5 methods you can try that may help ease the pain of the holiday meal battle.
Start with small pieces
Adopting a one-bite rule allows your child the opportunity to try something new without committing to an entire portion. Small pieces allow them to take a break in between bites to return to the item or to move on. Food items that are not too cold or not too hot and are in small pieces have a tendency to be more appealing to children. This way the introduction isn’t overwhelming and can often be less frustrating for both the child and parent.
Don’t make meal time a fight
Studies have shown that it takes 10 to 15 tries before a child will accept a new food, so keep presenting options without putting pressure on them. The more frustrated a child becomes the more likely they are to give up and leave the table in tears. When it comes to food struggles there are no winners or losers, so work with your child to find out what will make you both happy. It may take time, but the more patient you are with your picky eater, the more results you’ll begin to see.
Change it up – slightly
Serving a tried and true food alongside a similar new food may help ease your child’s anxiety about taste, texture and color. For instance, if your child likes soft carrots, try serving it next to softened sweet potatoes. Another variation of this method could be to serve a food they like in a new way (different seasoning, sauce, etc.). The key to cracking this method is to be honest with them – don’t tell them a food is something that it’s not – and use the other methods listed here in conjunction.
Present food in visually appealing ways
Even adults can agree that presentation can be key when trying new foods. There are plenty of ideas floating around the internet of ways to present food in a way that stimulates their sense of sight in order to brighten and enhance their mood about the forthcoming food. Include bright colors, interesting shapes and fun characters to help your child be more accepting of different meal items.
Set a good example
Let your picky eater sit next to a trusted adult or family member. This method demonstrates to them how someone they look up to and trust eats their food. Kids are easily influenced by those around them, and this is one way you can use that influence in a positive manner.
Captain McFinn is here to help
Captain McFinn did not grow up to be big and strong by skipping meals! He and his friends love to find new ways to help parents and children find common ground. Pro-social skills and developing values to help your kids become good people is at the top of the list in Sand Dusty Reef! You can find more positive social skills lessons and fun interactions by downloading the Swim & Play app for Free today!