• Patti Delger, RDN, LD

Trying New Foods: Thanksgiving Edition

A note about the author, Patti Delger is the Team Nutrition Director with Iowa Department of Education working with the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Our family gives thanks for our many blessings, spends time together, and eat really delicious food. It doesn't get much better than that! Our table is full of traditional favorites like roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, asparagus, green bean casserole, scalloped corn, roasted squash, and of course pumpkin pie.

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to most of us, but children trying new foods can prove to be a challenge, even at holiday time. Every child is a picky eater at some point or another. It’s not only a challenge for parents at home, but it’s also a struggle for child care providers.

Children’s willingness to try something new is heightened if the adults around them are eating it too, so eating the same foods is going to pique their interest and show them that the food may actually taste pretty good after all!

Research shows that a child can take 8-15 exposures to a new food just to accept it, so it comes down to perseverance, remaining positive, and providing encouragement. And what better time than when sitting at the Thanksgiving table together, giving thanks, and role modeling trying new foods? The decision to try something new is ultimately up to them, and showing support in whatever they do emphasizes a positive environment where they can try something without pressure.

This Thanksgiving, ask for the children's help in preparing the food, which can make the meal more enjoyable and memorable, and entice them to try the food they helped prepare. Every year, my grandchildren love to color table name place holders, help prepare and roll the crescent rolls, mix the pumpkin pie ingredients, and help set the table. This year we will have fun making and trying the Kid’s DIY Turkey Muffins. Here are some kid friendly recipes to check out: 12 Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Side Dishes, or Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Side Dish recipes.

Thank you for your commitment and passion to provide a positive food environment for the young ones in your care, helping them learn healthy eating habits for a lifetime. Happy Thanksgiving!

Top Five Tips for Picky Eaters - National CACFP Association

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