Halloween is over. Phew. Moving on! Prepare to face Thanksgiving down. It’s you versus strange Thanksgiving food that your kids may or may not eat. You vs relatives who have opinions about what your kids should—or should not—eat. You vs other children who are allowed to eat whatever they want. You vs sugar-hyped, over-stimulated and overtired little tyrants. It’s enough to make one of Bobby Flay’s famous throwdowns seem downright simple. The holidays are public parenting at its most challenging. That’s why you need a strategy to conquer Thanksgiving.
Getting through this holiday eating season is an important goal. But giving your kids the habits to conquer Thanksgiving? That’s the bomb. The cat’s meow. It’s even the way to beat Bobby Flay.
3 Steps to Help Your Kids Conquer Thanksgiving
1) Stray away from “Child-friendly” food between now and Thanksgiving.
Note I said, “Stray” not “Stay.” This can be a slow process but you have to head in the direction of “real” food. Child-friendly foods point your children’s taste preferences towards junk and that’s the wrong direction. So start weaning your kids off the stuff.
One study of “child-friendly” foods found: 70% have too much sugar, 23% have too much fat, 17% have too much salt.
Kids who get used to sweet, salty and high-fat foods are more likely to reject the fruits and vegetables you’re always trying to get them to eat because they are on the opposite end of the taste spectrum.
Calling some foods “child-friendly” teaches children that some foods are for them and some foods are not for them. Teaching kids eating habits is as much about their minds as it is their tongues. Read Mind Over Matter.
2) Practice Proportion. Up the “health quotient” in the lead up to Thanksgiving.
Proportion is the habit of eating foods in relation to their healthful benefits. It means eating more really healthy foods and less junk.
Talk to your children about eating fewer sweets and treats in the lead-up to Thanksgiving. Frame this as Proportion so it doesn’t seem like punishment.
Proportion is one of the three habits that translate nutrition into behavior. Variety and moderation are the other two.
3) Preview unfamiliar foods now.
Prepare your child for the Thanksgiving feast by exploring unfamiliar foods. Think sensory discovery and exposure not eating: taste, texture, appearance, aroma, temperature and sound.
If you’re unsure how to turn your child into an adventurous explorer, download my free resource sheets for introducing new foods. You can also download this evaluation form.
It’s tempting to throw in the healthy-eating-towel during the Holiday Eating Season.
But consider this: An 80 year life expectancy includes a lot of holiday meals. Habits learned early in life tend to stick around.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~
P. S. If you’re wondering what you should do with all that Halloween candy, click here.
Source: Wiley-Blackwell (2008, July 15). 89 Percent of Children’s Food Products Provide Poor Nutritional Quality, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714102439.htm