In an article from The American Speech and Hearing Association by Melanie Potock, a speech language pathologist and award-winning author, she provides suggestions for feeding a “picky eater” during the holiday season. In her article, “Planning for Holiday Meals for a Picky Eater,” Potock writes about the many stress’s families with “picky eaters” endure while trying to get their child to eat a prepared holiday meal. Potock answers the many “what ifs” during holiday meals with “picky eaters.” For parents concerned about their child being reprimanded by a family member for not eating and for wasting food: Potock says to, “keep portions presented on the plate quite small – a tablespoon is fine.  Many families use “family-style” serving platters or buffet style, where everyone dishes up their own plate.  Practice this at home.  It’s not wasting food if Junior is practicing tolerating new foods on his plate.  That food went to good use!” For parents concerned about their child not taking a bite of a family member’s famous dish: Potock says to, “focus on what Junior CAN do.  If he can sprinkle the crispy onion straws on top of Betty’s casserole, call Betty ahead of time and ask if he can have that honor.  Explain how you would love for him to learn to eventually enjoy the tradition of the green bean casserole and his feeding therapist is planning on addressing that skill in time.  But, for now, she wants him to feel great about participating in the process of creating the green bean masterpiece.  If Junior can’t bear to touch the food because he is tactile defensive, what can he do?  Pick out the serving dish perhaps and escort Aunt Betty carrying the dish to the table?  Taking the time to make Aunt Betty feel special by showing interest in her famous dish is all Betty and Junior need to feel connected.”  For parents concerned about their child gagging or vomiting during a meal: Potock recommends, “that parents identify what stimuli is most noxious to the child and talk with the host about those, offering assistance in preparing special food or supporting the host’s planned menu as much as possible.  Bring a change of clothes for Junior, just in case, as well as a quiet activity for him to enjoy if you sense that the meal may be just too overwhelming for him.  Plan other activities that don’t involve food to emphasize the message of the season: Being grateful.”  As a feeding therapist, Potock provides many helpful suggestions to help your “picky eater” survive the holidays.  It is always important to focus on what your child’s strengths are and to use those strengths to address their weaknesses.

Ally Hemphill MS CCC-SLP


American Speech and Hearing Association

“Planning for Holiday Meals for a Picky Eater”

By: Melanie Potock MA CCC-SLP