Tips for Holiday Meals with Picky Eaters: Holiday mealtimes can sometimes be stressful for both picky eaters and their parents. Even the sight and different smells of the various foods can often times be overwhelming for a child with feeding difficulties. Listed below are some useful tips to consider in planning for holiday mealtimes:
Preparation:Prepare your child for family outings and gatherings.Discuss the next day’s events and share stories and pictures of family members with whom your child might not be familiar.Keep a calendar of holiday events that your family will be celebrating.Have your child help write the lists and go to the grocery store to help with the shopping.Show them what you will be cooking, and what grandma and other family members might bring, etc. Ask them what they want you to make/contribute to the holiday meal.Have them assist in the kitchen as much as possible, even if it is only setting out the ingredients, measuring, mixing or setting the table.
Mealtime:Allow your child to help in food preparation or even placing food items on the table, without the expectation of them trying the food once seated at the table.Try to serve food family-style when possible during large holiday meals.Remember to keep portion sizes small.Bringing a familiar sectioned plate for your child to use from home might also be helpful.Bring a dish or food item you know your child will eat if you will be having a meal at somebody else’s home.Try to eat as close to routine mealtimes as possible (although this can be very difficult during the holidays and especially when not eating meals at home).
Following Mealtime:If possible, plan other activities that do not involve food. Bring crafts and games to play following mealtimes. Pinterest is an excellent source for craft and game ideas.
If you have any questions please ask your child’s speech therapist, feeding therapist, or your child’s physician.
Happy Holiday! – Michelle, Feeding Therapy and Speech Therapy Team