I love Christmas and the food is one of the highlights for me. But I know this is not true of a lot of children who struggle to eat.
There is often very little on offer that ticks boxes for a selective eater. If you add to this:
1. Being somewhere new (or having people over)
2. Having relatives commenting on what's being eaten
3. Feeling pressured to have foods that are not in the comfort zone
4. Sitting for too long at a table that holds no interest
5. Being surrounded by smells that can be overwhelming
- And suddenly Christmas Day doesn't seem so much fun.
My top tips for making Christmas Dinner rock for everyone:
1. Make sure our child knows what to expect. It's often easier to cope if we've been pre-warned.
2. Can we talk to relatives in advance and explain that Christmas Day is never the right time to be teaching lessons about eating food so please not to comment/ intervene.
3. Setting sensible time limits on how long our child needs to be at the table (or giving them the ability to get down - within reason).
4. Relax. The way we feel affects the way our child feels. If we're happy and smiling it enables them to do the same.
5. Set expectations. If our child doesn't normally eat any meat or any veg then we shouldn't be disappointed when they don't hoe into the turkey ...
6. Give our child some autonomy. What would they like to put on their plate. Gifting them some control helps.
7. Having some familiar items can be comforting. Is it a favourite plate or cutlery or is it having rabbit sitting next to them.
8. And the MOST IMPORTANT :) Christmas Day is for everyone to enjoy. It's about family and fun and loving celebrating. No one does this if they are not able to eat things they enjoy. So, my advice is to have one of our children's favourites at the table. Hopefully there is something that blends in like some potatoes or carrot sticks but if it's peanut butter on crackers then it is.
Let's return to - Christmas Day is not the place to teach someone to eat - so why wreck it for everyone. If our child just eats plain pasta whilst we're eating turkey and ham then that's OK. They will have a great Christmas and isn't that what we want for them ...
Judith is passionate about good food and is even more passionate about enabling other people to enjoy the wide variety of fresh food available today.