CHICAGO, Nov. 07, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Children are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, so the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages families to prepare Thanksgiving meals that incorporate fruits and vegetables such as cranberries, apples, pumpkins and green beans to encourage children to eat more of these healthful foods.

“Simplicity is key when it comes to feeding children, especially during holidays when meals are more formal and the dishes are more dramatic,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Amy Reed, a national Academy Spokesperson from Cincinnati, Ohio.

“Instead of serving children a vegetable casserole, set out a tray of raw vegetables and fruits because many kids like things to be plain. Offering different dips on the side allows them to customize their food and may encourage them to try something new," she says.

For younger children, the size and texture of foods that are served need to be considered. Soft, cooked vegetables, such as mashed sweet potato, and smaller pieces, about ½ inch in size, are recommended due to the risk of choking, Reed says.

Tips for a Child-Friendly Thanksgiving

“My family loves our Thanksgiving staples of turkey and gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce and sweet potato, but we can be flexible for our young guests who might not feel the same way about our traditional feast,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Jessica Sylvester, a national Academy Spokesperson from Boca Raton, Florida.

Sylvester offers the following tips for children:

  • Feed your kids a healthful snack beforehand so they aren't “hangry” by dinnertime and bring some healthful snacks such as fruit and yogurt, just in case.

  • Introduce a new food on the same plate as a familiar food. Seeing familiar food will make them more comfortable and willing to try new foods. 

  • Add only a "dime-sized" portion of any new food on their plate, and don't put more than two new foods on the same plate to avoid overwhelming them. They are more likely to eat a taste-size portion of a new item than one full portion.

  • Dress up the new foods by pairing them with new utensils in fun or unique shapes or colors. They’ll want to test them out with the new foods.

  • Lead by example. If you try a new food, your child might be encouraged to do the  same.

“Introduce new foods all year long so your children become familiar with trying new things,” Sylvester says. “If they don’t like a particular food, don’t worry and don’t threaten to punish them by withholding dessert or anything else. You never want your child to associate food with punishment. Encourage them to eat what they like and introduce the new food another day. It can take several attempts before a child will respond favorably to a new food.”  

Feeding Children with Food Allergies

Thanksgiving is a time to create memories, not stress over the dinner table,” Reed says. “Familiarize yourself with who has what food allergy and do your best to tweak your dishes to suit their needs or make a dish especially for them.”

Reed offers the following tips to navigate the holidays with a food allergy:

  • Alert your host of your child’s food allergies.

  • Inform other guests of your child’s food allergies so they do not offer them foods that might result in your child experiencing an allergic reaction.

  • Offer to bring some dishes that are safe for your child to eat.

  • Note that desserts often contain the major food allergens, so offer to bring a dessert that is safe for your child to enjoy so they do not feel left out.

Learn more by visiting To find an RDN near you, visit the Academy’s Find a Nutrition Expert directory.


Representing more than 112,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at


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