What’s Eating Your Child: A Review

I rarely accept book reviews, but when I received an email offering me a copy of What’s Eating Your Child?: The Hidden Connection Between Food and Your Child’s Well-Being, my interest was immediately piqued.

What’s Eating Your Child? is about the hidden connections between food and childhood ailments such as anxiety, recurrent ear infections, stomachaches, picky eating, rashes, ADHD and more. And what every parent can do about it.

When I received the book and started reading, I knew we were soul sistahs. Kelly Dorfman is a nutritionist who describes her perfect world as one where farming would be considered a noble profession, chemicals would be tested for safety in combination with already approved substances, pediatricians would be required to take a year of nutritional training, and sugared cereals and breakfast toaster pastries would be kept behind the pharmacy counter with warning labels.

Okay, the last one may be a little extreme, but it made me giggle.

Basically, Kelly has made a career out of figuring out what is causing an individual’s health problems and finding nutritional treatments. Doctors refer cases to her for insight when traditional methods don’t work. She explains that with so many of the modern ailments that plague our kids, there is either a food irritant or a crucial nutrient that is lacking in their diet. Unfortunately kids are usually put on medication before diet is addressed.

Kelly acknowledges that psychological issues do exist but feels they are probably over diagnosed. I so agree with that sentiment. She states that so often nutritional and biological imbalances cause psychological and behavioral issues, but unfortunately they don’t get treated as such. Or in her words, “we just do not access nutrition’s full healing potential.” Parents tend to bring their kids to Kelly when all else fails, and evidently she has an uncanny ability to assimilate the facts of a situation and identify the dietary links.

In her book, she goes through various real life situations from the clients she has seen over the years, and explains the background and nutritional issues surrounding the particular ailment — from picky eaters to chronic ear infections to reflux to poor growth to mood and behavior problems.

One thing that I found very interesting is that being a picky eater is usually a sign that there is a food irritating the system. I admit, and I have written about this in the past and had some very defensive comments, that I don’t have a lot of tolerance for the whole picky eater phenomenon. I was pretty much convinced that if you offer your kids a variety of tasty, nutritious foods and keep the junk out of the house, they won’t be picky. But evidently, being a picky eater is often a sign of a greater problem. Who knew?

Kelly also has an E.A.T. Program for picky eaters that she developed that she swears will work if the food irritants are taken out of the diet.

There are lots of other fascinating tidbits in this book, and I can’t possibly go into everything here. Her section on how studies are conducted and often colored by those who have a vested interest in the outcome is interesting and pretty much mirrors the information I learned in Robyn O’Brien’s The Unhealthy Truth.

I also liked her section on “Guess What Replaced Transfats” — basically, beware of anything that has an extended shelf life, and don’t trust the FDA to keep our food safe. Nothing new here, but it’s one more voice crying in the wilderness. If we can get more voices, perhaps we can change things for the better.

The purpose of the book is to help parents become food detectives and identify possible dietary links to their children’s issues so they can address the problem at its root. Of course, she recommends seeking professional help if you don’t achieve the desired results, but at least her information might give you a place to start.

Even though I’m not trying to identify the source of a problem with one of my kids at the moment, I found this a fascinating read, and parts of it did pertain to certain issues we struggle with even though they aren’t overwhelming problems at the moment. I’ll be using some of her advice to tweak our diets and supplements.

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of What’s Eating Your Child to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Join The Conversation

107 Responses

  1. i would love to win this book! i’m a 1st time mama of a baby girl and it seems like i’m always calling the doc when something isn’t right! i’d love to read and help give me some insight!

  2. I desperately need this book as I have some very picky eaters at my house and have suspected for a while that it might be something they are sensitive to.

  3. This book sounds like an interesting read. I’ve never “allowed” picky eaters at our house either but it does make me wonder about the foods my kids don’t like. We don’t have any health/behavioral issues that we’re trying to understand (unless tweenaged surliness can be cured with nutrition), but I’m always trying to learn more about how to provide healthier food choices for my kids. I’d be especially interested in what she advises for supplements. I would like to add that to our regimen but I’m not sure where to start.

  4. This book is right up my alley – we have been on the whole/clean foods journey for a little over a year now, BUT my son is extremely picky and it stresses me out to no end (and sometimes to tears). I would love to read her insights into what might be plaguing him!

  5. I would love to win this book because I am Gram to a six month old precious boy & want all the info I can get on keeping him healthy & strong! His Mom has all kinds of allergies & skin issues and I know what went into and onto her body have contributed to her problems. If I don’t win this book I will probably be buying it, but I am all about saving $ when I can (just keeping it real!).

  6. I am very interested in learning about how food affects our bodies – especially those of our children. My two daughters don’t seem to have problems, but my one-year-old nephew has severe dairy allergies and I would like to learn more about what may cause some of these issues.

  7. Fascinating! I just saw this book mentioned elsewhere.

    I’ve struggled a bit with the picky eater thing. My dh and I are not picky eaters, though I’m a bit more adventuresome than he is. However, we’re frustrated with how often our kids are picky. They’re not completely picky, but definitely they have a limited palate. I’ve sometimes wondered if they have some hidden allergies because a few medical people have pointed out signs of allergies to me.

    I definitely see a connection between nutrition and behavior/mood. I know from my own experience that eating white sugar makes me incredibly cranky and edgy. I can’t imagine what it does to my kids.

  8. I’m interested to read more about the link between what we eat and how we behave. I feel like we’ve been taking baby steps, and I’d like to have a more concrete idea in my mind as to why we are changing our habits.

  9. would love to read this. My youngest daughter often gets headaches and I’m just sure food is related some how. Thanks!

  10. I call my daughter a cautious eater because I know what a clinically picky eater is and she’s not that bad. And we’re in the testing phase of an elimination diet which is revealing food sensitivities, but unfortunately, not the cause of the problems that put us on the diet in the first place. Sigh! Anyway, I think this book would be a great help. Thanks!

  11. This book sounds right up my alley!! I have an (undiagnosed) ADD son and have been following the Feingold diet for 10 plus years. I am a big fan of Doris Rapp and her book, “Is This Your Child” WOuld LOVE to read this book and gain from her insight.

  12. I want! I’m ADD myself, and I’m seeing the trend in my daughter, too. I’d love to know more about how to possibly fix it.

  13. My daughter often complains of stomach aches and I’m quite sure it’s food related but haven’t been able to narrow it down. I would love to have a copy of this book!

  14. I moved toward traditional foods last year, but I recently started the full GAPS diet to help heal myself of reflux. With my own progress, I can see so clearly the connection between food and mood/behavior. I need to start working on my kids now, but that’s even harder than making the change for myself because they will be kicking and screaming about it. I would love to read this!

  15. I was immediately intrigued when you mentioned about how food could be related to recurring ear infections, which my toddler has been having. I’d love to win this!

  16. I have two kiddos, one who seems to be affected by food more than the other, I’d like to win and read what Kelly has to say on this topic. Thanks!

  17. This book sounds great! My daughter is constantly complaining of her stomach and after all of the tests have returned negative I would love to read this book for some ideas.

  18. OK that book sounds wonderful. We are dealing with somethings mentioned on the front cover and now I’m even more intrigued. And I linked back to your Shaved Parm Chicken & Creme Sauce recipe. I made it last night and it was WONDERFUL!! It’s a new family favorite.

  19. Laughed out loud at the toaster pastries behind the pharmacy counter line – so true! I’m not extreme in any way – but am pretty intentional about what we eat around here. This sounds like a great book and reference to have on hand!

  20. Would love to read that book, too! We’ve been moving our diet in the right direction for a while now. I’ve found that with all of the reading I do, the tidbits that I remember are, “High-Fructose Corn Syrup=bad.” “Fermented Cod Liver Oil=good” The reasons behind those statements get lost somewhere with to bringing a towel for MYSELF to the pool and switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I would love a concise resource that I can read and refer others to on a regular basis. Right now, all my info is spread across many books, articles, and blogs.

  21. Interesting. What about kids who were once great eaters and have become completely uninterested and unwilling to try new things? things that were grown in our own garden? Would love to read the authors take on all these illnesses. We have been going through a bad period of too much sick and maybe it somehow food related. We definitely eat a lot more sugar than we should in baked (homemade) goods and fruits.

  22. I want to read this and pass it on! My friend’s son is super picky AND food allergies are in their family… she would be intrigued by this!

  23. I’m just starting to become really interested and concerned about what my family eats. I think this book would be a great jump start!

  24. I have a 2 year old who has a nasty diaper rash that we believe is food related (maybe strawberries)…antibiotics sometimes help it go away but we don’t want to stuff her full of antibiotics all the time. Perhaps this book could offer some help!

  25. Wow, this looks fascinating. Just today I was wondering how to tactfully suggest to a friend that maybe they should look at their child’s diet as a possible trigger to some of the behavioral problems they’ve had with him. (It’s deeper than that but I do wonder if better nutrition would at least help).

  26. I want to read this!! I have one with IBS and one with anxiety. Maybe this book will help me help both of them! 🙂

  27. Oh I’d love to read this. I have a picky eater who has some sensory issues. Would love it if someone could tell me why the picky eating but I doubt that will ever happen. This book would be a start.

  28. I would love to read this book because the more I see parents feeding their kids crap and expecting good/proper behavior the more I want to throttle the parent. 😉 Also I think more and more of our “environmental” health problems are due to our food sources specifically processed foods. And grown up are in CHARGE of buying these items for their kids. It’s frustrating that the FDA is doing NOTHING toward keeping our children disease free.

  29. sounds very interesting. I have been on a food journey for some time now. For me first (before kids), I thought I could not handle milk, but turns out I could not handle (what I call) poisoned milk and switching to organic in 2003 fixed the problem, than switching over to most organics through the following years, but recently I am at a confusing place. With breastfeeding, definitely good progress with our diet (however not perfect –close with the baby though), I have one with Asthma and the baby has serious eczema. Reading “the unhealthy truth” now and certainly would love to read this one as well!

  30. Gosh, I have struggled with the picky eater thing for a long time now. While my son has gotten a little better, he is still really tough when it comes to eating. Our chiropractor tested and said he was allergic to milk and sugar. Guess what his favorite foods are? Yep, dairy and sugar. But what you mentioned in this book regarding picky eaters and food irritants, well — I’d be very interested in learning more!

    1. That is typical – the foods they eat the most are the ones that irritate them. 🙁

  31. I would love to explore this book. I have one picky eater which I attribute to 5 years of eating a very limited diet and a strong will but I would love to read her thoughts on it.

  32. I would love to win this book! I am a newbie to the whole foods phenomena and I am soaking in everything I can get my hands on.

  33. Perfect timing. We’ve just been reworking our diet to deal with a child’s hyperactivity issues and it is so hard! Guidance definitely needed. Thanks for the giveaway!

  34. I have been really trying to learn more about the connections between diet, behavior, and our health. I love that this book is more than just stop giving your kids sugar and they will behave better!
    After looking at the Amazon preview it seems to be chock full of info that would help me figure out some quirks my guys have…including a mild touch of picky eating.

  35. I would love to read this book. My son has ADHD tendencies and I’m dabbling in GAPS. This might help, too.

  36. Our son has been diagnosed with ADHD. I would love to read this book to find out if it has something to do with his diet!

  37. This book sounds awesome, and sounds like the next step in my journey. I’m currently reading The Unhealthy Truth and Righteous Porkchop. I’d love a new book for beach reading in August!

  38. I would love this book. It sounds like what I’ve been thinking about our picky eater.

  39. I would love to win this book, but if I don’t, I am absolutely going to buy it! It sounds like exactly this information I need right now at this time of my life — I am so glad that you reviewed it!

  40. I would love to read this book – I am a big believer in using nourishing foods to establish health and well being, and medicine as a last resort. I’ve learned a lot but always want to know more!

  41. My 5 yo son is sensitive to red dye. I would love to read more about how to help him have better self control through diet. I am convinced that lies at the heart of his problems. Even if I don’t win, I will be buying this one!

  42. I forgot when I commented the first time – I have been a subscriber since Fido was a pup.

  43. I would love to win this book so that I could read it and then share it with several friends who have young children with food allergies, environmental allergies, etc. I absolutely believe that all of the chemicals and additives used in food have a negative affect on our health. I am reading one of Michael Pollan’s books right now and it is fascinating.

  44. I have anxiety and stomachaches, I recently learned about a yeast allergy that I have and I have a child with ADHD, I have often wondered what I could do different to help all of us.
    [email protected]

  45. Oh my GOSH… this book sounds as if it was written for me! My son is a picky picky eater and it came out of the blue!

  46. I would love to read this book. I have a 7 year old who is a “picky eater” and I would love to read her thoughts on this.

  47. I would love to get a copy of this book. As a parent with a picky eater, I would love to hear from someone who turned it around. I also have another child with food sensitivities, so learning some tips for dealing with this would be helpful!
    Thanks for keeping us informed!
    Sheri O.

  48. Ok, I totally NEED to read this book! My son has had constipation and he is VERY VERY picky! We keep junk out of the house and we really don’t even eat many processed foods. It drives me crazy! This book looks fabulous! I really want to win!

  49. I so need this book as my son’s behavior is out of control. He just got kicked out of his 3rd preschool & we are at our wits end.
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway.

  50. I would love to win a copy of this book! I totally agree that there is a HUGE connection between our diets and a lot of illness/ailments/behavioral issues and I feel like nutrition should be the very first thing addressed for most things, but of course it’s not. I’d love to read more about this whole thing!

    Thanks for the chance!

  51. My three year old is very picky, but not in the same way as other kids I know…he’d rather eat fresh fruit and veggies than meat! I have finally been able to get him to eat a bit of roasted chicken, as his main forms of protein are dairy and peanut butter. I’d love to read this book and learn more about my picky eater and possible tips to expand his diet. What a great giveaway!

  52. I am a big believer in the fact that nutrition can heal us! I love diving into anything like this that allows us to improve our lives through something as easy as nutrtion! So much better then turning to medication! If I don’t win it, I will be buying it! Thanks!

  53. I’d love to win a copy. In our household we are having problems with moodswings, picky eating and possibly ADD. I’m trying to learn all I can about how to change our diet to fix these problems. This book sounds perfect. Thanks

  54. Your review makes this book sound great. I’d love to read it, especially since I’ve become horrified now that I am reading nutrition labels closely to find healthy foods for my daughter.

  55. I would love to read this book, as a mother to a little girl with milk and soy allergies I am trying my very best to make sure she eats organic, whole, local foods.

  56. I just started “The Unhealthy Truth” and would love to have this waiting on my nightstand for my next read!

  57. I’ve got a picky eater and would love to read more about this. Sounds like a very interesting book!

  58. I’ve nothing but good things about this book…I am always looking for new ways to introduce my children to healthy choices and also books that I can suggest to my own clients.

  59. Not sure if you’ve closed the contest yet…but the book sounds excellent!

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