1. Focus on creating memories:
Big meals, ginger snaps, and eggnog may be a part of the holiday season, but for most it is not these foods that make the holidays so special. It is the “togetherness” and the time spent with family or friends that matter most. When you think back on your Christmas memories, it is likely that it’s not the cookies you made for Santa that you remember, but how much fun you had making them with your family and reading Santa’s note in the morning. Or if you celebrate Hanukkah, it is likely that it isn’t the taste of the latkes you have the best memories of, but how your house smelled when latkes were made and how it felt to be surrounded by loved ones lighting the Menorah candles. While food is a great part of the holidays, it is the togetherness that makes them so special. Try to focus on the time you’re spending and the memories you’re creating with your child throughout this season.
2. Keep the preferred food around:
If your child has a “safe” or preferred food, keep it around during the holidays so they have access to it. Change in routine can be difficult for children, so maintaining access to this safe food can provide a sense of routine and comfort. If you are going to a family or friend’s home, ask if you can bring this preferred food or if you are traveling, try to buy or make the food upon your arrival.
3. Educate others:
This season means spending time with extended family and friends that you don’t get to see every day. While this is one of the best parts of holidays, it can be exhausting to have others providing unwanted “opinions” or unsolicited advice on your child’s feeding journey. You can provide them with an explanation of what your child’s feeding journey looks like and why you would prefer them not to reward your child with a present, activity, etc. to try to get them to eat. If this type of conversation makes you feel uncomfortable, you can simply state that your family focuses more on togetherness and trust during family meal times so you would prefer them not to make comments about food to your child.
4. Acknowledge all feelings:
During the holiday season we often hear: “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” But while the holidays bring joy, they can also bring negative feelings of stress, guilt, isolation, and more. Try to take some pressure off of yourself and acknowledge that it is normal to have negative feelings arise during the holiday season.
5. Take care of yourself and lean on others:
Building off of tip 4, taking care of yourself is fundamental to taking care of others. This will look different for everyone. Maybe it’s talking to friends or family members who support your child’s feeding journey. Or maybe it is the mental health professional or religious leader that makes you feel heard. It could also be your workout coach, hairstylist, or your neighbor. Whoever makes you feel best or whatever makes you feel best – lean into those people and those things if you’re feeling down or overwhelmed throughout the holiday season.
We hope you enjoy the holidays and time spent with those you love!