This book is written by Dr Joel Macht, an educational psychologist from the US, and documents what he has experienced over several years working with 200 children with eating problems. Dr Macht talks about creating an individual plan for each child, and acknowledges that what worked for one family may not work for another as each child is different and must be approached individually. He also asks that you read the entire book and develop a plan with medical professionals before making any changes. His approach is to ask the questions “what is the meaning of the child’s food refusal behaviour?” and “what is the child trying to tell us through her refusal to eat?”. Dr Macht offers many suggestions including videoing feeding events and recording every part of the feeding process, every action, facial expression etc, as a means to pick up every clue that the child is trying to tell you about why they are refusing to eat.

Dr Macht identifies 7 reasons why children are refusing to eat:

1. The child has no physical sensation of hunger or thirst;

2. The child is experiencing physical discomfort when eating and/or drinking;

3. The child is experiencing emotional discomfort as a result of previous unpleasant associations with eating or drinking (Dr Macht estimated 95% of children were experiencing this when he first started working with them);

4. The child has learned through the experiences he has had with his primary feeders how to adaptively behave so as to receive something he wants – be it certain foods, or specific attention;

5. The child has yet to learn that eating and drinking by mouth will produce pleasant tastes and reduction of physical discomfort;

6. The child is confused as to what it means to eat as his parents might wish;

7. The child will eat sufficiently and quite comfortably for one adult but not for others.

This book was quite easy to read but was lengthy (eleven chapters and 300 pages). There are 2 copies of this book available to borrow from the RISA library. RISA members simply need to email their library request to me at Please write attention librarian in the title of the email and include your postal address.

Happy Reading

Bianca Willis
RISA Librarian

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