6 Tips to Get Picky Kids to Eat Vegetables on Thanksgiving
My son has sensory issues with food and has since birth. As a result, I have discovered that forcing him to eat foods he can’t tolerate OR waiting until he is hungry enough to eat the foods he hates doesn’t work. Instead, I have found ways to encourage him to at least eat more of a variety of foods than he may otherwise eat. Here are 6 Tips to Get Picky Kids to Eat Vegetables on Thanksgiving.
1. Serve at least one favorite vegetable (or fruit, if she doesn’t like veggies) as part of the meal.
For example, my son likes broccoli the best, but he also likes carrots. Since carrots (and fresh green beans) are part of our traditional Thanksgiving meal, we won’t have to serve anything extra for him.
2. Serve combination foods separately, if you can.
For example, my son is not willing to eat most combination foods. By serving the parts of mixed dishes separately, I can encourage him to eat more variety.
This year for Thanksgiving I discovered a salad that I know everyone except my son will like. The reason I’m going to serve this salad is:
• It’s healthy
• The recipe has several foods he likes–if they are served separately
• It looks delicious!
I’m planning to serve each food ingredient in a separate bowl. I will also offer another salad dressing as an option (one that I know more than one person likes, if possible). This won’t require more work because when preparing a salad, I chop everything up separately. The only extra work will be cleaning the dishes.
If you’re having special company this Thanksgiving, and you decide to serve this salad or something similar, you could put the dressing on the table in a cute salad dressing bottle and place the salad ingredients on fancy dishes. Most young children will eat the lettuce, apples, and cheese. If they don’t have an aversion to nuts, like my son does, the pecans will probably appeal to them as well (especially if you caramelize them*). If all they eat is the lettuce, apples and cheese, you’ve gotten two servings of veggies and fruit into their cute little bodies! The pecans are rich sources of magnesium and essential fats. So, if they eat the pecans, even better.
As a bonus, the little ones can pick up these foods with their hands, which I know toddlers love to do!*
3. Encourage your child try at least one new vegetable or fruit that she didn’t like previously (or other food, if she just happens to LOVE fruits and veggies!). One taste is enough.
For example, we have green beans every year. They are southern style and have salt pork and onions in them. Okay, so problem number one, it’s a combo food. Problem number two, it’s not a preferred vegetable. Problem number 3, he doesn’t really care for green beans. So, this year my challenge is for him to put one green bean on a plate (just the green bean) and take a small taste. Then if he likes it, he can have more. If not, that’s okay. Praise him for being willing to put the food on the plates.
4. Make sure your child is hungry by the time you serve the meal.
Snacking all day long will obviously dampen anyone’s appetite, especially someone with a smaller stomach, like kids. Food always tastes better when you’re hungry. So, if possible, no eating/snacking for AT LEAST 2 hours prior to the main meal. This should help in the enthusiasm department.
5. Try not to worry too much if your child doesn’t want to eat much on Thanksgiving.
It’s a special day, and there are probably a lot of other things going on that are much more interesting than eating. Kid’s usually eat less when they’re having fun and are around new or non-routine people.
6. Put small amounts of each food they will be eating on the plate.
Sometimes an overfull plate can overwhelm the child and cause them to lose interest in eating at all. They can always ask for more!
If possible, talk to the host ahead of time to get an idea of what will be served. That way you can create strategies ahead, especially if your child has sensory issues with or allergies/intolerances to food.
Pick something you know your child will like and serve it along with the other dishes served, so that it doesn’t appear like you are serving something special just for your child. For example, even if it is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, make enough to share, and put it out there with the other dishes.
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