CHEYENNE, Wyo - The Holidays are a great opportunity to help kids expand their flavor palettes, share in family traditions, and make new family histories.
No one wants to sit down with all of the relatives and be responsible for the monsters who start the food fight and refuse to eat anything but Mac and Cheese. Practice basic table manners before the big day.
Cheyenne Youth Alternatives sent us some advice for helping the picky eater in your life.
-Have your kiddos help you prepare the food.
When kids help fix the meal, they learn to appreciate how a dish is made and the work and skill that goes into making something taste good. They are invested in the meal. Even if they only do small chores, like wash off the veggies and help set the table. Make it a family meal, don’t just serve them.
-Don’t make them eat anything you won’t.
Kids learn by watching. If you won’t eat it, they won’t eat it. If you don’t want them to have food issues, don’t teach them food issues. If you aren’t going to eat the turkey gizzard and neck, don’t make them. If olives and cranberry sauce aren’t your thing, don’t force them on the kids, but don’t say bad things about them just because you don’t like them.
-Try 3 bites.
One bite is not enough to tell if you like something new or not. Kids don’t have to eat the whole thing, but they have to give it a valid try. (And so do parents). The holidays offer the opportunity to expose kids to family favorites and traditions. Share stories as well as bites. New foods can be less scary when they have a story attached.
-Don’t be a short order cook.
Unless you really do live in a diner, don’t fix separate meals for each person. Even if you include non-traditional favorites for the kiddos, don’t let that be the only thing they eat.
-Shut off the media
Have meal time be just meal time. No phones, no TV, take time to enjoy the food AND the company. Teach your children to savor their food and they will have less chance of obesity.