Thanksgiving is a holiday for showing gratitude and enjoying a meal with family and friends. During a holiday filled with food, families with picky eaters can find the meal to be frustrating. When planning your meal, include at least 1 food or dish that you know your child will eat and you may even ask them to help with planning food for the meal. Tell your child to help you pick at least one protein, one grain, one fruit, and one vegetable to cook and eat - you can give them options to pick from or let them help with picking up ingredients from the store. Participating in the planning and preparation of the meal can help picky eaters be more willing to eat the meal provided.
When cooking and prepping food for Thanksgiving, it is important to teach and model safe behaviors in the kitchen. Show and help kids hold tools appropriately and consider keeping child-safe knives available and use tools such as oven mitts to prevent injury. When cooking on the stove, turn pot & pan handles toward the back and keep flammable objects away from open flame. Keep hot food & liquid away from the edge of the counter or table. If walking while holding hot items, be sure your path is clear of children, pets, and objects such as toys. Raw food such as fruits, vegetables, and meat can cause illness if ingested, so you should be vigilant about cleaning food, surfaces, and utensils. After handling food be sure to wash your hands and any kitchen supplies you may have touched with soiled hands. Keep raw and cooked food separate when storing food to prevent cross contamination. If you or your child are tasting food throughout the cooking process, avoid samples with raw ingredients such as eggs; also be sure to wash utensils after using them to taste and avoid double dipping.
When it is time to sit and enjoy your meal, help make your child’s plate look and smell inviting, so they are more willing to try new things. It may also be helpful to use “food bridges” by having your child try something that may look similar to a food they are familiar with to make trying new things more enticing. Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to spend with family and friends; try to take pressure off of your child cleaning their plate, and focus on showing gratitude for your loved ones! Enjoy the holiday!
American Academy of Pediatrics. (November 15, 2022). 10 Tips on Keeping Holiday Kitchen Prep Safe. https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/health--safety-tips/10-tips-on-keeping-holiday-kitchen-prep-safe-american-academy-of-pediatrics/
HealthyChildren.org. (November 21, 2022) How to Plan a Balanced Thanksgiving Meal for Picky Eaters. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/How-to-Plan-a-Balanced-Thanksgiving-Meal-for-Picky-Eaters.aspx