Stressed out kids need comfort foods at Christmas



Do you remember the commercial for Chick-fil-A where the spotted cow puts up signs saying, “Eat mor chikin?” I always get a kick out of the way the “cowz” come up with different ways to supposedly keep one from eating beef.

This food chain has come up with a unique way to promote its sell of chicken. Today I wish I had a unique way to let you know what children of divorce need to be eating over the holidays. While children are not like the “cowz” or the “chikin” in the commercials they do need special consideration especially during the holidays.

Children of divorce need to have access to comfort foods. For adults comfort foods are usually foods that are generally sweet and fatty in content, but for children many comfort foods are simply foods that remind them of happier times spent with family.

I like how Wikipedia describes comfort foods; “Comfort food is traditionally eaten food, which often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the person eating it, frequently with a high carbohydrate level and a simple preparation. The nostalgic element most comfort food has may be specific to either the individual or a specific culture.”

Claudia Jewett Jarratt says it best in her book, “Helping Children Cope with Separation and Loss”. [1] “Anxious children relax and feel more like eating when they are offered their usual diet, including their special “comfort” foods.”

Comfort foods

Here is a list of just a few foods that bring comfort to children who are grieving the loss of their two-parent family.

  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Chicken soup (mom or grandma’s homemade chicken soup)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Applesauce
  • Pastas
  • Sweet and milky foods like hot chocolate, puddings, etc.

Traveling kids

Many children in single parent families will be traveling over the holidays. Hundreds will be flying across the country to visit the other parent and extended families. These children will more than likely be eating a lot of fast foods and foods that are empty calories. Even the children who are staying home will more than likely be eating the same types of foods over the holidays when the single parent is overwhelmed with holiday celebrations.

These children’s diets may suffer. Many will not be getting enough potassium in their food intake. Also children under stress may experience upset tummies with vomiting and diarrhea because of too much rich foods and or fast foods and they will be depleting their system of potassium.

Foods high in potassium

  • Bananas13495361_l
  • Tomatoes and tomato products (tomato soup, tomato sauce, tomato juice, ketchup)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Raisins (and other dried fruit such as apricots)
  • Potatoes (Mashed potatoes has that soft comforting feel also)
  • Orange juice
  • Broccoli

Approaching the single parent

I’m not suggesting you have the parent use food as a comforter. It’s a delicate balance. Tell parents not to offer food and say, “this will make you feel better” but to include these foods with their regular meals and snacks. We don’t want to teach the child to turn to food every time something goes wrong. Those are the kids that grow up to be obese and or have health problems.

I want to encourage you to alert single parents to include foods in their meals and snacks that meet a need for their children. My own son craved applesauce when he was in the third grade. He ate applesauce for lunch, for snack and for dinner. He ate other foods with those meals but he craved applesauce during that time in his life. It was a food that was soft and comforting in the mouth. He eventually no longer needed the applesauce but for about a year I couldn’t keep enough applesauce in our home.


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[1] “Helping Children Cope with Separation and Loss” Claudia Jewett Jarratt (The Harvard Common Press) pg 73

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