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Adoption Blog: Talk to AF

Adoption Expert Webinar: Establishing a Healthy Feeding Relationship

adoption feeding expert Katja RowellSince bringing your child home, have you encountered behaviors like hoarding, food obsession, picky eating, overeating, or everyday power struggles around the dinner table? Join Katja Rowell, M.D., aka "The Feeding Doctor," to ask questions about the challenges you've faced at meal or snack times.during Adoptive Families' Establishing a Healthy Feeding Relationship Expert Webinar on December 13, 2012 from 1PM to 2PM ET. Submit questions in advance by posting a comment below.

Katja Rowell, M.D., aka "The Feeding Doctor," is a family physician who works with parents to establish healthy feeding relationships by focusing on the how of feeding. She has developed a special interest in supporting adoptive and foster families with feeding and weight worries, and recently published Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parent's Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More. Rowell is a sought-after speaker, blogger, mother, and family cook.

Listen to a recording of this webinar and see the full lineup of upcoming Adoptive Families webinars.

Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle


I would love to learn more about power struggles at the meal time. This was a huge one for us. We have gotten better, our son has been home a year and half, but occasionally we still have issues. I would love some new ideas.

By Rasbebe on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm.

I would be interested in your thoughts relating to feeding difficulties in older kids.  My daughter, now 9 /12 and adopted from China at 16 months of age, was a picky eater right from the start.  I thought it was just your typical picky eating that many kids experience and eventually grow out of.  But within the last few years, it has worsened.  I noticed the number of foods she was willing to eat was shrinking and now we’re down to a very limited number of foods that she will eat.  She is brand specific (e.g., only likes Kid Cuisine stuffed crust pizza, won’t eat pizza from a pizza shop) and the foods must be prepared in a very particular way.  Also during this time we found she has sensory processing disorder (auditory, tactile, smell and oral sensitivities).  She had a good deal of O/T for her auditory issues.  This fall we tried feeding therapy at a hospital that uses the SOS approach (sequential-oral-sensory) which is a play therapy that tries to desensitize the child’s aversion to the texture and smells of new foods (an approach I thought was appropriate given her SPD diagnosis).  But she was uncooperative, and after trying it for several sessions told us she found it humiliating to have to play with food.  We might have had success if we had recognized her feeding difficulties as atypical sooner and started the therapy at a younger age.  Her weight at this point is not our biggest concern, although she’s at the very bottom of the chart (<3rd percentile).  I worry more about how this will affect her socially as she gets older.  As it is now, there are very few restaurants we can eat in.  When we travel, I bring along the foods she is willing to eat.  Sending her to any kind of summer camp is out of the question because of her extreme picky eating.  And although she isn’t technically underweight, given her diet I am sure she is probably is malnourished.

Any suggestions you might have to expand her palate that doesn’t involve coercion or bribing would be much appreciated.

By QTcats on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm.

Just a correction to the above post, her age is 9 1/2.

By QTcats on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm.

My son, age 4, was adopted from Ethiopia more than three years ago.  Pre-adoption, he suffered near fatal protein energy malnutrition, and for his first two years home had major food anxiety and was constantly worried about getting more food.  I pretty much let him eat as much as he wanted, but was careful with what I let him eat.  (He is also gluten intolerant.)

Now the issue is refusing to eat, and often he refuses to come to the table.  Transitions are rough for him, even going from one activity at home to another.  I don’t want to argue about food.  I’ve been setting out a plate and telling him he can decide if he wants to eat dinner.  He can have carrot sticks or fruit instead if he wants.  And he gets a yogurt before bed, which he loves.  I feed him that on my lap.

I’m not sure if it is best to leave it up to him if he wants to come to the table or enforce a rule that at mealtimes, we sit at the table together whether or not he eats.  I’m a single mom with no other children, so I don’t have to worry about the effect of him playing instead of coming to the table on anyone else.  (But it drives me nuts!)  He has never shown any problems eating at day care or preschool.  In those settings, he simply follows the crowd and eats like everyone else.

By barbaloot on Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm.

We have adopted 2 daughters from CHina and have just recently adopted a 12 year old from Colombia.  All three of the girls have had some food challenges due to thier backgrounds.  They tend to overeat and at times can make themselves sick from the quantity of food they eat.  They all like healthy food but when 1 child will eat 4 or 5 bananas in 1 day, a whole bunch of grapes or try to eat 4 or 5 slices of pizza in 1 meal I’m wondering how to best approach this.  I try to re-enforce that in our house food is always present because of past neglect and encourage the girls to slow down.  What suggestions do you have?

By familyof7 on Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm.

Was this recorded or is there a playback? I was unable to listen but I am very interested in this session.

By ColoradoMom on Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 8:42 pm.

Was this recorded or is there a playback? I was unable to listen but I am very interested in this session. Above comment is also true for me.  Thanks.

By CStallman on Friday, December 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm.

I made a mistake, I thought this was today, not yesterday so I missed it.  It says an audio file will be avaible, does anyone know where?

By familyof7 on Friday, December 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm.

The recording of this webinar is available at

By AFC Editors on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm.

Rasbebe, #1 tip clients say helps lessen power struggles is to serve meals family-style. It’s about letting kids feel in control as much as possible. if you pre-plate and they don’t like what they see, they are upset and negotiating before the meal even begins! Lots more tips, following the Division Of Responsibility helps too. Put out a variety of foods, including at least one or two things your child enjoys, and then your child gets to eat as much or as little as he wants. Also, the less we talk about nutrition etc. the less they have to argue about. I spend most of a chapter talking about power struggles, pushback etc. Every child is different as well. Hope that helps to get you started!

By Katja on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:24 pm.
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