One of the things I love about feeding specialist Dr. Katja Rowell’s new book Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parents’ Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More is that it debunks many damaging myths about what it means to raise a healthy child with a healthy relationship with food.

The problem with these myths is that they steer parents in the wrong — and unhealthy — direction. They often cause kids to obsess over food and create needless conflict between parents and their children. Mealtime becomes a battle.

Below, in part two of our interview, Dr. Rowell shares seven common myths and facts on everything from limiting portions to forbidding foods to controlling weight.

Love Me, Feed Me is truly a comprehensive, wise and practical guide in nourishing your child, ending food obsession and addressing common concerns, such as developmental delays and sensory problems. And, ultimately, it empowers parents to connect with their kids through feeding.

Learn more about Dr. Rowell at her website, and read her fantastic blog. Also, check out these valuable additional resources from Dr. Rowell’s website.

Q: What are common myths — and facts — about feeding that you’d like to clear up?

A: Myth: Making my child try two bites of something will help her learn to like it.

Reality: Pressure with feeding most often backfires. Children who are pressured to like a new food tend to like it less well.

Myth: Offering food and having it available all day long will help my small child grow.

Reality: Grazing, or pushing food on a child all day, generally worsens nutrition and makes her grow less well.

Myth: BMI is a reliable indicator of health risks.

Reality: Fitness level is a more reliable health indicator.

Myth: Limiting portions and forbidding high-fat and sugary treats is a good way to help a child lose weight.

Reality: The more restricted the child is, the more liable she is to eat in the absence of hunger and weigh more, not less.

Myth: Pushing my child to eat the food pyramid every day, including five servings of fruits and veggies, will ensure good nutrition.

Reality: Pressure will make him less likely to eat well. If children are offered a variety of foods, their nutrition tends to even out over several days.

Myth: If I encourage my child to control her weight in healthy ways like watching portions or limiting sweets, she will not become obese.

Reality: Even “healthy” weight control measures in teens resulted in teens who weighed more and had more disordered behaviors than their nondieting counterparts.

Myth: You can control a child’s weight by trying to get him to eat more or less.

Reality: Pressure with feeding backfires. The more you try to get a child to eat, usually the less well he eats and grows. Conversely if you try to get a child to eat less, she will likely have a higher BMI and eat more when she has the chance than she would have otherwise.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the last part of our interview where Dr. Rowell reveals how parents can help their kids build a healthy relationship with food.

And don’t forget about the giveaway! Dr. Rowell is giving away one copy of her book to a US reader. See part one for details.


More About Dr. Katja Rowell

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.