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Holidays and Eating Stressors

HOLIDAYS AND EATING STRESSORS 

This is the time of year when food is often at the forefront of holiday celebrations and gatherings.  Food is an important part of holidays in all cultures around the world.  However, there are many children and their parents who will experience conflicts over food this holiday season. 

For children with eating disorders and their families, this time of year can be extremely stressful.  People with eating disorders are often terrified of excess calories and may avoid eating in front of others.

Dr. Martin Harrington, medical director of the Children's Hospital & Medical Center Eating Disorders Program, advises parents, "Plan holiday meals with the guidance of your child's treatment provider or nutritionist.  Allowing the child to be involved in choosing the foods available during holiday meals is an easy way to give them some level of control over what they will eat." 

Keep the holidays festive and help your children make good memories.  If your child needs more education about healthy eating, give it to them at home, not in public.  "The goal is to practice moderation as well as being flexible for which foods may or may not be available.  Set a goal for each holiday gathering and provide encouragement in achieving that goal," says Dr. Harrington.

If you are concerned that your child may not be getting proper nutrition, check with your pediatrician or family physician to make sure there are no medical problems and that their growth pattern is within normal range.  If they appear unhappy or seem overly worried about eating too much, please call the Eating Disorders Program at Children's , (402) 955-6190, for educational materials or an evaluation.

Children's is the only full-service pediatric hospital in Nebraska and serves children in a five-state region.  Children's is the primary inpatient teaching site for the joint Creighton University/University of Nebraska pediatric residency program.  Children's also serves as the pediatric training site for the family practice residency programs at the University of Nebraska and Creighton University, as well as for many of the region's nursing and health profession schools.

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