In this post, featured blogger Kaylee Page shares helpful tips to prepare for an FPIES-friendly holiday season while also creating lasting memories.
I've shared this in a previous post. That time when I buried my face in my hands and sobbed at the Thanksgiving table. I had set a goal of Bella chewing her first Thanksgiving meal (chewing issues were part of our FPIES journey!). Summer had come and gone and here we were feeding a Thanksgiving meal of pureed veggies—the same old veggies she had been eating day in and day out. Progress seemed slight and my goal had surely failed.
I looked around and all her cousins were chomping down on the day's yummy goodness. And we....were different. I felt like a failure. Grief, shame, hopelessness all set in—and I wept.
This year, we're gearing up for Bella's first post-FPIES Thanksgiving. She outgrew FPIES this year. I'm thrilled and beyond excited to have her sit with us at the table and eat the same food, but I'm more excited that the fear and stress that surrounded family food gatherings will be gone. We're going sit around the table and be happy, grateful—and feel really, really free.
But our past Thanksgivings are still really close to my heart. And as we head into the holiday season, I want you to know I'm thinking of you and suggest a few ways to gear up for this holiday season:
Plan It Out
I get uneasy when I don't have a set step-by-step on how to navigate what's going on around me. This means it's vitally, crucially important for me to plan. I'm talking about the type of planning where I intentionally think through the various points of tension and play out ways to handle it.
What gives you the holiday jitters? Is it attending parties? Reach out to the host ahead of time and ask about their meal plans. Plan to prepare an FPIES-friendly dish or bring a foodless option for the whole party to enjoy.
Do you worry about keeping things clean and safe? Think through where you may sit or eat during the holidays, then identity the things you can do that make you feel good and safe. Is it packing extra sanitizer or wipes?
Is it that you worry about people accidentally feeding your child food? Before each party, identify in your mind the one to two people that you know get it and who will help you monitor your child – so that you can take a 5-minute breath yourself to enjoy the holiday party too!
You have a different story than the others attending the holiday gathering. It's okay. Don't try to have their holiday experience. Try to have your best holiday experience.
Find Your Fun
Next month, I'll tell you about that time we tried to be "normal" and ended up with some really ugly looking sugar cookies! But as ugly as they were, the mission was accomplished. We had fun. We made memories. Take a minute and think through a few ways you can make the holiday season special and filled with memories. It can be substituting the heck out of recipe so as to make it safe, or it can be completely unrelated to food. Whatever it is, ask yourself these questions. Did you have fun doing it? Did you laugh? Will you remember it? Was it intentional and were you fully present? If so, then I'd say you nailed it!
Pat Yourself on the Back
It is not easy. At all. To think through, plan and prepare all the food for the holiday season. You may be on the go more (and we all know that makes it a lot harder to get the food into your kiddo!). Stuffing that stocking may take extra energy as you re-think all the ways to fill it with non-food items. Each outing and gathering requires that fine balance of vigilance and grace.
For everything holiday related, FPIES takes more: more energy, more thought, more planning, more time....more of you.
And I applaud you for this.
You are doing a great job!
Take a deep breath and be good to yourself this holiday season. Take it one meal at a time, one day at a time.
You ARE helping your child with and through FPIES.