A common worry parents have around Thanksgiving? Their children won’t eat well. They might not even eat at all. The solution? Imagine Thanksgiving from the perspective of a child. You don’t who’s 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. 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- DO resist the urge to tell your kids to eat-up. Remind them to pay attention to their tummies.
- DO help your children save room for treats coming down the pike.
- DO keep some familiar food in the car for the ride home if your child is unlikely to eat at the meal.
- 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.
- Many children pick at their food. Nibbling, rather than gorging, is a healthy holiday habit.
- Many children would rather play than schmooze by the appetizer table.
- The mindless eating that parents do is easily avoided for kids who would rather run around than sit around.
- Happy holiday memories are more important than healthy holiday eating.
Do your children eat their veggies? What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments below. I really would love to know.
Until next time, shine amongst the stars!
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Guest Post By DINA ROSE, Ph.D. is a sociologist, parent educator, and feeding expert
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