Most adults look forward to the Thanksgiving feast all year long. There’s a little something for everyone, and the classic combination of all those yummy side dishes, turkey and dessert makes the holiday special.
When it comes to kids who are notoriously picky eaters, though, it’s a different story. The deliciousness that is a Thanksgiving meal, including all the traditional dishes like green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries and even pumpkin pie, is lost on many kids.
They often simply want the same thing they love to eat the rest of the year: mac and cheese.
With that in mind, Kraft made a hilarious commercial that any parent of picky eaters will totally relate to.
Check it out in the video posted to the brand’s YouTube page below:
After pointing out that a lot of the foods we eat on Thanksgiving are not really eaten any other time of year, the mom narrating the commercial says that kids don’t want to eat them on the holiday either.
“The truth is, 75 percent of families have a picky eater at home,” she says. “So, please don’t judge me when I sneak into the kitchen during grace and heat up a cup of Kraft Mac and Cheese.”
She promises that giving kids the mac and cheese they crave will make for a much more pleasant holiday for everyone, free from tantrums.
Lest you have any ideas of subbing in a “fancy mac and cheese made with Gruyère, or whatever” for the Kraft classic, the narrator warns against this, saying doing so is merely “setting yourself up for an emotional avalanche.” Too funny!
On a more serious note, some new research published in the journal Appetite found that pressuring kids to eat did not affect their growth or have an impact on their eating habits a year later.
Researchers at the University of Michigan followed a group of 244 ethnically diverse 2- and 3-year-olds over the course of a year and examined whether the pressure tactics parents used affected their healthy growth and/or their eating behaviors. Even though the study showed basically no effect one way or the other, experts caution that pressuring kids to eat can still have ill effects down the line.
“Pressuring in feeding can be considered controlling or intrusive, and we know from decades of research that controlling and intrusive parenting is not valuable for child well-being,” Dr. Julie Lumeng, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan who worked on the study, told Parents.
Another unintended consequence is that it may have a negative effect on parents’ relationship with their child.
“These types of power plays create an adversarial relationship between the two of you and turn the entire process of eating into even more of a negative experience for your child,” Dr. Tamar Kahane, a child psychologist who developed a program to treat selective eaters, told Parents.
Pressuring kids to eat when they’re not hungry can also interfere with their ability to self-regulate, something that can eventually lead to weight gain.
So what’s a concerned parent to do instead? One helpful strategy is to introduce new foods without putting pressure on kids to consume them.
“I recommend you put one tablespoon of any new foods, especially foods that the rest of the family is eating during the meal time, on the child’s plate,” Melanie Potock, pediatric feeding specialist and author of “Adventures in Veggieland,” told CNN. “But don’t force them to eat it. Just having it on the kid’s plate is the first step to making friends with that food.”
The Centers for Disease Control offers a number of other tips that can help picky kids become a little more willing to try new foods. In addition to refraining from forcing particular foods, the CDC recommends waiting a week before trying to offer a rejected food again, mixing a new food with a food your child already likes, teaching by demonstration — letting your child see you eat the food — and giving your child choices. For example, you can say, “Today you can try broccoli or green beans. Which one would you like to try?”
Lastly, don’t give up. The agency says it may take up to 10 tries before a toddler likes a new food.
Are you grappling with a picky eater at your table?