Kati Berlin MS OTR/L, occupational therapist at the Pineville office, has some tips for meals with families who have picky eaters at the holiday table.
- Do a dry run with new or unusual foods in a typical mealtime environment, rather than waiting until the hectic holiday meal.
- Do a taste testing with low pressure to like the food and time to adjust the flavors before the holiday meal.
- Tell the story behind the special holiday food item to create buy-in.
- Put the child to work. Being part of the preparation may build comfort and willingness to try.
- Add condiments. Kids may be more willing to try when a favorite dipping sauce is available.
- Reduce pre-meal snacks. Bring them to the table hungry!
- Create a signature dish to promote interest.
- Give the food a catchy name. Younger kids are more interested when food is fun.
- Keep servings small and simple.
- Don’t serve a completely different meal, by including some familiar and favorite items.
- Don’t battle over bites.
Kati also found a low cost online seminar for parents and professionals from Sensory Processing University called Surviving The Holidays With A Picky Eater and led by renowned expert Kay Toomey, PhD. The seminar promises suggestions on talking with family and friends about picky eating and how to deal with difficult situations, as well as information on the difference between picky eaters and problem feeders. Click here to learn more about the course.
Kati and other occupational therapists and speech therapists on the Child and Family Development team assess and treat kids, teens and young adults with feeding difficulties and swallowing difficulties. She is trained in the Sequential Oral Sensory approach ‚Ñ¢ (SOS) created by Kay Toomey. The approach looks at the whole child in order to assess why a child is not eating or has a very limited diet. Intervention then begins within a child‚Äôs comfort level and children are allowed to explore and learn about food in a non-threatening way through play.