Having a family member who needs a feeding tube or parenteral nutrition makes you uniquely aware of the way the holidays seem to revolve around food. It can be a stressful and emotional time, especially if the family member is a child who you want to have fond memories of the season. Remember, you’re not alone in this. Regardless of what you celebrate, there are other parents and caregivers like you out there who only want the best for their child.
It’s OK to feel nervous or uneasy about the upcoming festivities, but when you do, refer to the following tips for having a fun holiday season that is conducive to enteral or parenteral nutrition.
While there’s something to be said for spontaneity, if you or your child have a feeding tube or central line for nutrition, the holidays probably aren’t the right time. Plan in advance where you’re going for the main event(s), and if you have the opportunity and feel comfortable doing so, offer to host. This may give you a sense of control over the situation, and certainly the menu.
If you’re going to someone else’s home, determine whether you’d prefer to arrive before or after the meal has been served, and don’t be afraid to make an exit plan. Remember, it’s OK to turn down invitations if that’s what is best for you and your family!
If they don’t already know, tell your loved ones about your child’s condition and what that means in regard to meals. If it’s someone you trust, try to explain your anxiety to them, and if you have a close friend on hand, let them know that you might need some extra support during this time.
Make a special effort to thank those who support you. They may not always understand, but if they go out of their way to make you and your child comfortable, safe, and happy, that means a lot.
Holidays are a time for traditions, but your family’s traditions don’t have to be food-related. Try coming up with unique activities you can do every year like giving the angel on top of your tree a g-tube or singing Facetime carols to out-of-town family. You can even come up with traditions for your child to participate in if they’re sitting at the table during mealtime. For instance, everyone could go around and talk about what they’re thankful for, or maybe you could play a specific playlist they helped curate.
Everyone’s situation is unique; what works for one person may not work for another. We understand that, but the most important thing we want to impart is that you can have fun without food! It’s so ingrained in our society to focus on food all the time, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Lead by example and make this holiday about friends, family, love, and gratitude.