Overcoming Food Issues

Many Internationally Adopted children  have issues with food when they come home. They are afraid of the different food textures, tastes and smells.   In some cases it can be more than just fear or dislike of the new tastes….. it can actually be an induced eating disorder CAUSED by actual starvation within the system from where they came.

A sweet friend who suffered from an eating disorder  described our sweetie’s pain exactly!  I remember Sweetie 3 waking at night crying hysterically that she was hungry, and then not being able to really eat more than one bite.

When she came home, she weighed 32 lbs and was nearly 6 years old. She was in a 3T.  The first time we sat down for a meal she said, “I only eat red soup!”  (borscht)

When we went to see the movie “Martian Child”. both Mike and I looked at each other and grinned when the little boy said, “I eat Lucky Charms.” 🙂img_22752

I realized very quickly, based upon what I had been told by her other family that she was going to have feeding issues.  In fact, feeding issues were a huge deal in her previous family.  They felt that she was being rebellious by not eating.  They thought she was throwing up on purpose.  Not only was she NOT, the lack of understanding towards her reinforced the food problems she was having.

I had to become a   a beet expert really fast!  I learned to make red soup!

I cannot tell you the joy she had on her face when she saw that comfort food sitting before her!  She happily ate her bowl of soup.

Why soup though?  Because It was easy on her stomach and she was very used to liquids and very simple foods. Everything else she would claim “hurt her stomach.”   I believed that it did, but I think the pain was something else.

She was suffering the pain of hunger. She had been starved for so long and gone hungry for so long that she couldn’t tell the difference between  hungry and full.  So, when she ate a pea, she’d say, “I’m full.”  She hated the feeling of being FULL. But she would cry because her tummy hurt, especially at night.

We were giving her lots of whole fats and familiar foods, letting her graze all day long to try and not have a setting that would cause her stress.  We found that she would eat a few bites, declare herself full and then 10 minutes later she would be able to come back and eat a little more.

It was a very slow process getting Sweetie to understand and recognize the difference between full and hungry. Before we could address it, she had to fully trust us with one of  her most vulnerable of feelings.


One day, after a couple of years being home, she declared that she was full after just eating a few bites.  I suggested to her, “Sweetie, maybe you are not full, but your tummy just needs to rest a minute and what you are actually feeling is still hunger.”  “Can you try to take 3 more bites and see if it goes away?”

She was very willing, and took those 3 more bites. This is something we could have never done 2 years before!   And, surprisingly to her, the feeling went away.  We worked with her  on  recognizing the difference between the feeling of full and hungry for a long time.

That was the beginning of the learning process which enabled her  to eat more, try more foods and heal.

In the last 4 years, as we have served her the comfort foods she loves and   have introduced slowly more and more foods. Today, I am very happy to say, we have a very healthy eater. She eats all of her food and has begun to ask for SECONDS!

She still eats something right before bedtime and drinks whole milk regularly.  She still grazes in between meals too, and her food intake is at a healthy balanced rate. She loves all sorts of foods and will even eat cookies! 🙂   She is ON the charts! (not that charts are that important)  But she is ON THEM! 🙂

(Since this post was originally written, Sweetie has continued to grow and is now at a normal size for a young lady!)


Comments warmly welcomed!


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