5 Ways to Survive the Holiday with Extremely Picky Eaters
Are you ready to help your extremely picky eater this holiday?
When I say picky eater, I'm not talking about kids that don't like broccoli or kale. I'm talking about kids that have severely limited diets - eating only 3 to 6 foods. Or kids that are overly sensitive to tastes and textures where the normal rules, like taking a 'no thank you' bite, don't work. In fact, few of the rules for normal age-related picky eating apply to extremely picky children.
For many years my son fell into the extremely picky category and the holidays were difficult back then. I was embarrassed that there wasn't a single thing he would eat without gagging. And forcing him to eat something he didn't like always backfired. He had an iron will when it came to food.
But over the years I persisted.
I can now say from personal experience, that if you keeping offering healthy foods and supporting your child's gut health - even the pickiest of eaters will eventually be open to new foods. Someday they'll even like broccoli and kale. They'll eat vegetables. It's just not going to happen immediately. It takes time.
But, what do you in the mean time to survive the holidays?
Over the years, I've learned a few tricks to survive the holidays with even the most finicky eaters. And if you haven't read my other post Survival Guide for Parents of Picky Eaters, you'll want to check that out for some other great tips too.
1. Feed Your Child Before You Go
That's right. Feed them their favorites, fill up their tummies and make sure they're stuffed before you go to a big family dinner or special occasion where you know they won't eat anything (except the treats of course). They'll be so full it won't matter that they don't enjoy dinner with everyone else and then you can still let them have dessert.
2. Check Ahead of Time to See What's Being Served
You never know if there might be food they can eat or not. Don't get caught off guard. It's best to call ahead and check on the menu not only for dinner at someone else's house but also at restaurants. Most people are understanding and some will be down right accommodating if you're child is picky.
3. Bring Your Own Food
It will make your life easier and you can guarantee they will eat something on their plate. If your child is starving and then is tempted with dessert later it might be a recipe for a total meltdown. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. They don't truly understand what it's like living with your picky kid, so save yourself the pain and just bring your own food. It's not giving in, it's being smart.
4. Put it on the Plate
Fill their plate with a small sample of the other offerings. Let them explore the food (smell, touch, taste or nibble according to where they're at).
5. Stick to Your Rules
They have to sit politely at the table, even if they don't eat, until they're excused. The food stays on the plate. They have to eat something healthy before dessert. Once we began using these tricks it made navigating the holidays, special occasions and restaurants so much easier. This phase won't last forever and eventually you'll be able to take them anywhere and find something they can eat. Just be patient with the process and trust me it will happen!