A common worry parents have around Thanksgiving? Their children won’t eat well. I worry about this yearly. Goddess and Handsome are very different kids. She is all about the fruit, veggies, sweets and breads NO MEAT and he is all about the meat, potatoes and bread NO VEGGIES OR FRUIT. They might not even eat at all. The solution? Imagine Thanksgiving from the perspective of a child. You don’t whose going to be there, the food or the schedule. In short, you don’t know what’s going on. And, on top of all that, you’re expected to just go along, and get along. As long as your kids aren’t infants, it doesn’t matter how old they are. Filling them in on the plans for the day can solve a lot.
Eating expert and Sociologist Dr. Dina Rose, author of IT’S NOT ABOUT THE BROCCOLI: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating (Perigee) offers these steps to Help Your Kids (AND YOU) Conquer Thanksgiving and Holiday Eating and create a lifetime of healthy eating habits without focusing solely on nutrition:
1. DO tell children what will be on the menu — and when. Don’t assume they know. Then, brainstorm together how they’ll find something to eat, if they’re picky, or how they’ll manage all the sweets and treats.
2. DO let your children eat a meal before leaving home (or in the car on the way to the main event) if they’ll be too tired or too distracted to eat at the meal, or if they’re worried they won’t be able to eat anything at all..
3. DO help your children figure out what they really want to eat by doing some taste testing, but only if they’re up for it. Assuming some of the food is unfamiliar, fill a plate with one pea-sized bite of everything on offer.
4. DO tell your children that after the taste test they can help themselves to anything they want. Resist the urge to “push” the healthy stuff.
5. DO resist the urge to tell your kids to eat-up. Remind them to pay attention to their tummies.
6. DO help your children save room for treats coming down the pike.
7. DO keep some familiar s in the car for the ride home if your child is unlikely to eat at the meal.
8. DO teach your kids to bookend Thanksgiving with a couple of no-treat days before and after their holiday feast. Even if Thanksgiving is outrageous, this strategy will even things out. Then, let them figure out their own holiday favorite treats.
1. Many children pick at their food. Nibbling, rather than gorging, is a healthy holiday habit.
2. Many children would rather play than schmooze by the appetizer table.
3. The mindless eating that parents do is easily avoided for kids who would rather run around than sit around.
4. Happy holiday memories are more important than healthy holiday eating.
DINA ROSE, Ph.D. is a sociologist, parent educator, feeding expert and the author of
It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating (Perigee). Dr. Rose has been training parents, pediatricians, dietitians, and early childhood educators in the Habits Approach for the past decade. Her work has been featured on television, radio, and in print and online news sources. Whether she’s speaking at an intimate gathering of parents, a professional conference, grand rounds or delivering a keynote address, Dr. Rose’s message is pragmatic, memorable and so unique it has been called “transformational.” In addition to writing her own blog, It’s Not About Nutrition, she is also a regular contributor to Psychology Today.