This is the last part of my interview with Dr. Katja Rowell, M.D., a feeding specialist and author of the must-read book Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parents’ Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More. (I highly recommend it for all parents!)
Below, Dr. Rowell reveals the practical and effective ways parents can help their children build a healthy relationship with food. Specifically, she follows Ellyn Satter’s evidence-based feeding models: The Trust Model and Division of Responsibility. I wish these models were standard practice in every pediatrician and dietitian’s office.
Q: You follow Ellyn Satter’s models for feeding. Can you describe these models?
A: The Trust Model is about trust: the child trusts she will be fed, and the parent trusts the child can learn to eat the right amount and learn to eat the foods the family eats. It involves:
It sounds simple, but it’s not easy. Feeding well is a lot of work under the best of circumstances, add on emotional or developmental delays, and it’s even harder.
I think the Trust Model is even more important for children who have experienced trauma or may be seeking out control and conflict. This model gives children appropriate control and lessens power struggles.
Q: What are some tips that parents can try to help their kids have a healthy relationship with food?
Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know?
A: I’d like parents to know that feeding their children doesn’t have to be this hard or this scary. I’d like parents to trust their feelings. If they are anxious, stressed and dreading family meals, it probably means something is off, and is a clue that you might need to learn more.
If we feed from a place of fear, anxiety and dread, that energy pervades the experience and fuels counterproductive feeding practices. If we can address our concerns, and learn to take that leap of faith and trust our children and the process, and feed from a place of calm, our children will sense that and it will help them learn to feel good about food and their bodies.
I’d also like readers to know that while my book is a welcome to adopting and fostering parents to the Trust Model of feeding, the information is largely the same that I share with all of my clients.
I tend to tell the same stories, ask the same questions, cite the same research, and give similar support during the transition to the Trust Model. This is a healthy model of feeding, and it works for the child who is small, large, selective, adopted, fostered, or born into a family.
I walk parents through what the transition looks like, how things may seem to get worse before they get better, all with lots of stories and quotes from other parents who have been there.
Mostly I want parents to know that you can bring peace and joy back to the family table!
Don’t forget about the giveaway! Dr. Rowell is generously giving away one copy of her book to a US reader. See part one for details.
Family doctor turned childhood feeding specialist, Katja Rowell, MD, graduated from a top-ten medical school and noted in her practice how many of the problems she saw stemmed from an unhealthy relationship with food.
Rowell believes how children are fed is the key to what they eat, and helping kids have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies is the best preventive medicine there is.
Described as “academic but down to earth,” Dr. Rowell is also the family cook, blogger, and mother of a grade-schooler. She helps parents struggling with feeding or weight worries via house-call in the Twin Cities or by phone nationwide. She has developed a passion for supporting adoptive and fostering families.
Her book Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parents’ Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More distills the support she offers families as they heal difficult feeding relationships.
I’m so grateful to Dr. Rowell for sharing her insights, advice and techniques for healthy feeding and eating.
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Last reviewed: 29 Nov 2012