“Help! My preschooler is obsessed with food!” Supporting the Food-Preoccupied Child (and Family) With a Responsive Approach to Feeding

She is completely obsessed with food, all the time. But everyone told me, she’d get used to ‘normal’ portions.

 Daisy’s never been happier and I think reducing her anxiety around food is a huge part of why that is.

Course Description:

Food preoccupation (when a child’s interest in eating or food interferes with their social, emotional or physical development) can undermine a child’s ability to self-regulate, and often leads to high levels of mealtime conflict and parental anxiety. Parents describe going to extreme and exhausting lengths to control the child’s eating.

Food-preoccupied children may be referred to you for binge eating, oral fixation or seeking, weight “management,” interoception training (to tune in to fullness cues), or for selective eating (help them eat more fruits and vegetables). Behaviors observed in children with food preoccupation include:

  • rapid eating and stuffing food
  • sneaking food
  • frantic energy around food or when eating
  • singular focus on food 
  • eating large amounts
  • seemingly unable to stop on their own (even to the point of vomiting)

Rowell will touch on the impact of parental weight concerns, the critical role of restriction (non-responsive feeding), the idea of food “addiction,” and more. 

Through poignant emails and session notes detailing Daisy and her mother’s experience with food preoccupation, Rowell outlines a responsive approach to feeding, including:

  • reliable and structured meals and snacks
  • permission to eat all foods
  • supporting families to find solutions that work for them 
  • addressing parent worries
  • sharing early signs of self-regulation and healing with parents 

This webinar outlines practical ways to support children to tune in to appetite cues and heal their anxiety around food. Additionally, parents are relieved to let go of the “food cop” role, enjoying  mealtimes and their children more fully. 

For pediatric RDs, OTs, SLPs, therapists, and eating disorder RDs and therapists, and early intervention specialists.

*Not addressing Prader Willi, brain lesions, metabolic or pharmacological causes of hyperphagia.

LEVEL:  Intermediate
DURATION: 2 hours
CEUs: 2 hours RD CEU approved (certificate +$5); AOTA and ASHA information below

COST:  $57

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Katja Rowell MD

Katja Rowell is a family doctor, author and responsive childhood feeding specialist. Described as “academic, but warm and down to earth,” she is a popular speaker and blogger and has appeared in numerous publications. Katja has developed an expertise in anxious and avoidant eating (including ARFID), food preoccupation, and supporting foster and adopted children and families. Katja is on the SPOON medical advisory board and founder of The Feeding Doctor. Her books include: Helping Your Child with Extremely Picky Eating: A Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Selective Eating, Food Aversion, and Feeding Disorders. Learn more about Katja at The Feeding Doctor.

Learning Objectives: at the completion of this course, the participant will be able to:

  1. Name a commonly seen factor that fuels a child’s preoccupation with food.
  2. Explain how the combination of food insecurity plus restriction (even if well-intentioned for nutrition or weight concerns) fuels preoccupation and anxiety around food.
  3. List three things that can help a food-preoccupied child.
  4. Anticipate that a child is likely to eat more initially when restriction is lifted.
  5. Describe early signs of learning to tune in and decreasing anxiety around food that often happen before children leave food on their plate.

CEU information:

Certificates of attendance verify 2 hours of continuing education for SLPs and OTs. Check with your professional organization’s licensing bodies to determine exactly what may be accepted for you:

This course counts towards ASHA professional development hour requirements, and does not require pre-approval. Please keep your certificate as proof of attendance as it is not submitted to ASHA’s CEU registry. Please  check with your state certification board for any additional requirements for state licensure, as they all differ. ASHA professional development information

This course counts towards AOTA professional development hour requirements and does not require pre-approval.  Please check your state’s and national certifying body guidelines for specific information to determine if it may apply to your state’s licensure requirements. Please keep your certificate as proof of attendance as it is not submitted to any CEU registries.   NBCOT certificate and certification , NBCOT certification activities chart