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Picky eaters during the holidays

What to do about picky eaters during the holidays

By Dee Madore, .RD., Registered Dietitian

Here are some tips for pleasant holiday meal times with picky eaters:

Don't force children to try new foods or finish their dinner.

  • This can lead to eating disorders later.
  • It is normal for children to go through periods of refusing to eat certain foods or new foods.
  • Allow experimentation.
  • Provide healthy choices.
  • Don't cook something different for their dinner.

Be prepared.

  • Make familiar choices available
  • Allow your child to help prepare meals.
    • Rinsing vegetables
    • Stirring muffin or bread mixes
    • Preparing baking sheets for dinner rolls
    • Measuring

Divide responsibilities.

  • Parent's responsibility -- Parents still decide what comes into the house and what's on the menu, as well as setting structured meal and snack times (no short-order cooking!)
  • Child's responsibility – The child chooses what and how much to eat from what is served at meal and snack times.

Things to keep in mind all year

  • Serve small serving sizes of bite-sized pieces
  • Include a variety of color
  • Mix unpopular food into favorites
  • Have child help with grocery shopping
  • Avoid making issues about your food preferences
  • Eat with your child and become a role model
  • Offer one or two new foods each week
  • Allow 10-15 presentations for your child to try the new food
  • Limit access to "empty-calorie" foods
  • Limit juice to a maximum of 4-6 oz. per day and milk to 16-20 oz. per day to prevent filling up on liquids
  • Every meal or every day doesn't have to be balanced. Look at the week overall.

Meet the team

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Sarah Benton, PsyD, LCP
Sarah Benton PsyD, LCP Feeding Read more
Sangita Kling, RD
Sangita Kling RD Feeding Read more
Kimberly Ritenour, MS, RN, CPNP
Kimberly Ritenour MS, RN, CPNP Feeding Read more
Angela Smith, PhD, LCP
Angela Smith PhD, LCP Feeding Read more


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