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Who are Anxious Eaters?

Who are these anxious eaters? You know these children. They are worried about eating, pretty “picky” and eat a very narrow diet with very specific foods. They may only eat one brand of macaroni and cheese and may like their waffles round. They may like any food with a crunch, but no wet foods. Their preferred cheese is a particular string cheese, but only white, not yellow! They may like fast food nuggets from only one restaurant and they must be fresh and warm. They may drink milk, but only from their special cup and apple juice from the green box. Their yogurt may need to be one flavor, brand, color and must be eaten directly out of that container, not a bowl! They may have no vegetables or fruits in sight. Your attempts to introduce new foods, different foods, healthier foods, are met with resistance and maybe even tears. There is lots of worry about foods! Parents of these anxious eaters describe their children as well beyond typical picky.

Some children are anxious about ANY type of change at mealtimes. They might become upset when their parent cuts their familiar toast into a different shape. They may reject yogurt if it has been served in a bowl, and not out of the container. Other anxious eaters are really worried about new foods. Every anxious eater experiences their own specific kind of worry. While worry can be seen as the common thread, different children worry about different aspects of eating and mealtimes. And we know, when children worried, anxious about eating, mealtimes becomes stressed for all!

Do These Children Sound Familiar?

Anxious Eaters, Anxious Mealtimes
Practical and Compassionate Strategies for Mealtime Peace

Soon to be available:

Now available in spanish, thanks to gaby herzog. Email her for purchase information.

Purchase the greek version here.


Marsha Dunn Klein wrote this book for parents and professionals who know and love children who are picky eaters, really picky eaters, really, really picky, anxious eaters! She knows when children do not eat, cannot eat, and are really worried about eating, mealtimes become stressed for everyone. Hence, anxious eaters and anxious mealtimes. With almost five decades of experience in the field of pediatric feeding, she shares practical and compassionate ideas to support success for families and clinicians. She describes how to:

  • find peace and enjoyment during mealtimes;

  • find ways to help anxious eaters fearlessly try new foods;

  • navigate the sensory variations in food smells, tastes, textures, looks and sounds; and

  • help anxious eaters (and their parents) develop a more positive relationship with food.

Because parents are absolutely central to mealtime success, the author incorporates parent insights throughout the book. Using encouragement, novelty, and fun, she invites everyone back to the table with a sensitive and pressure-free approach.


Laura WespTeddy’s Mom
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To any parent who has felt the pressure to get her child to eat, this book is a treasure. Marsha champions a whole new mindset. Page by page she breaks down the process of introducing new flavors, textures, and foods into micro-steps that feel doable, comfortable, and natural. Her kind, compassionate approach will transform mealtime anxiety into joyful possibilities and lasting change. This gem of a book will restore your hope.
Jo Cormack, MATherapist and Feeding Specialist, Emotionally Aware Eating
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This accessible book is a goldmine for parents and professionals. Marsha Dunn Klein teaches parents that there IS a route to positive mealtimes and that, with sensitivity to (and respect for) children, we can help them learn to explore new foods, tolerate novelty and build their eating confidence. Marsha has a wonderful way of expressing important concepts like “change happens” and “mealtime peace.” She writes with huge compassion and without judgement, always seeing things from the perspective of the many, many families she has worked with.
Karen Dilfer, MS, OTR/LPediatric Occupational Therapist
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I have always loved the work of Marsha Dunn Klein in her the Get Permission Approach because it’s given me such practical ways to help families. I highly recommend this book for parents and practitioners who are feeling stuck and need new ideas to help them support the anxious eaters in their lives. This is the book every feeding therapist needs! Marsha understands the struggles of families with anxious eaters and offers kind and thoughtful advice. Her wisdom and experience will be a welcome addition to any family welcoming a picky eater to their table.
Lauri ZiembaBrady’s Mom
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This book will give you the hope, insight, strength and tools to help you and your child succeed at mealtime. One of the greatest gifts Marsha gives us is that there are a thousand ways to get there- if one way isn’t working we can try another! We won’t give up!
Erin Sundseth Ross, Ph.D. CCC-SLP Pediatric Speech Pathologist
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This book is a wonderful tool in our “toolbox” for helping children with Pediatric Feeding Disorder. Ms. Dunn Klein understands that these children suffer from some physical or skill-based deficit that has impeded their ability to trust that eating will be safe or comfortable. For many of these children, they have had months if not years of trying to eat, while experiencing pain and discomfort, or pressure. Over repeated experiences, children with Pediatric Feeding Disorder learn to avoid eating. Perhaps the original problem with eating is long gone; but they continue to avoid foods sometimes new foods, sometimes familiar foods in a different setting or prepared in a different way. By understanding the reasons behind the anxious behaviors, both the professional and the parent can appropriately help these children learn the skills for eating. Ms. Dunn Klein explains the various skills necessary for eating – across several physical and developmental domains. Rather than trying to “fix the child’s behavior,” Ms Dunn Klein helps the adults recognize why mealtimes have become so challenging, and how to help their child and family enjoying eating and mealtimes once again. She illustrates key points throughout the book with stories of clients, helping both parents and professionals to recognize their own struggles while at the same time helping parents understand their child’s behaviors are not unique. I believe every parent, at one point or another, would benefit from understanding how to help their child move from saying “NO” to enjoying the wonderful array of foods we have available. From working with these children, I know that these anxious eaters are found in every country, across the age ranges of early toddlers to adult. It is so refreshing to have a skilled, experienced therapist who has successfully worked with these children provide her insight and her expertise. This is a roadmap, a guide book, towards once again enjoying mealtimes with our children. Thank you, Marsha – from all of us!
Dr. Kay A. ToomeyPediatric Psychologist, SOS Approach
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Marsha Dunn Klein is a well-known and well-respected expert in the field of treating children with feeding challenges because of her unique ability to explain how to help these children in down-to-earth, parent friendly language. Both Feeding Therapists and Parents/Caregivers alike will find the information in Anxious Eaters, Anxious Mealtimes easy to understand, and the practical strategies in this book are a welcomed addition to the field. I am certain that Ms. Dunn Klein’s book will help teach parents, teachers, caregivers and therapists alike how to sensitively change the way in which their children eat for the better for their lives.
Shannon GoldwaterFounder Feeding Matters
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Finally, a brilliant book full of practical and commonsense information that will help parents and therapists build healthy and enjoyable mealtimes with their children and patients!
Katja Rowell
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Anxious Eaters, Anxious Mealtimes is a must-read for every professional doing feeding therapy with children.” Katja Rowell, MD, coauthor, Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating: A Step-by-Step Guide for Overcoming Selective Eating, Food Aversion, and Feeding Disorders and Conquer Picky Eating for Teens
BreAnne Robison MSOTR/L, Mealtime Connections
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Navigating how to help a family struggling with mealtimes and feeling the pressure to add nutritional foods to their anxious eater’s diet can be overwhelming. Marsha provides foundational concepts and practical strategies that will assist in decreasing stress and bringing joy back to mealtimes!
Jennifer BerryPediatric Occupational Therapist, Founder, Thrive with Spectrum Pediatrics
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Marsha Dunn Klein gets it. In this book she speaks directly to parents in their rightful roles as leaders of family mealtimes. She offers them practical and proven techniques that not only will help their anxious eaters expand their horizons, but does so in a way that nurtures family interaction and protects the child’s lifelong relationship with food.
Mandy Guendelsberger Carlsen, OTR/LCo-Founder Mealtime Connections
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Marsha’s approach to working with children who are extremely cautious and nervous around food is a master’s class in responsive feeding. She helps to remind clinician and parent alike that at the center of therapy is celebrating a child for who the child is, not her feeding challenge. Marsha’s approach teaches us how to take a step back from the pressure of quantity and the next bite and teaches us how to break the next bite down into smaller asks that everyone involved in the therapy session, therapist, parent, and child, can achieve and celebrate.
Krisi Brackett, MS, SLP-CCCUNC Hospital Pediatric Feeding Team
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This book is a must have for all feeding therapists. Marsha provides guidance and well thought out strategies to traverse the slippery road of anxious eaters. I am a seasoned therapist but am always looking for new and better ways to help my clients which I have found in this book. I love Marsha’s techniques of rehearsals and stretching to prepare a child and help them feel more comfortable. I have seen wonderful results with my anxious picky eaters by using these strategies.
Cheri Fraker, CCC/SLPSpeech Language Pathologist, co-author, Food Chaining: The Proven 6-Step Plan to Stop Picky Eating, Solve Feeding Problems and Expand Your Child’s Diet
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Marsha has done it again. This is a great resource for anyone dealing with pediatric feeding disorders. It reads like an ongoing conversation with a true feeding expert. Stressed little eaters now have a voice. Add this one to your library!
C's Mom
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I was delighted to read Marsha’s book because it reflects experiences one encounters on the long road to feeding a child with feeding challenges. She understands that feeding is a dance. It is a relationship, a partnership based on trust. Marsha understands that any feeding relationship is based on the partnership of three groups of people - the expert on the child (parent), the child, and the expert on feeding techniques (feeding professional). Many people forget each group is an integral part of the team and must work together to help the child develop and thrive. Marsha gets it and this roadmap illustrates it. Her decades of experience and knowledge, guided by her love of children and the families who care for them is evident, and I cannot say enough good things about Marsha or this book. I can only hope that parents, who may have lost hope, or feeding professionals, who struggle with challenges posed by certain children, read this book and recommend others do the same. Like any expert, one needs tools, techniques, and encouragement, and this book provides them.
Catherine Riley MDDevelopmental Pediatrician
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Marsha has a wealth of knowledge and experience with families and children who are anxious eaters. In this book, Marsha provides insight as well as practical strategies for these feeding challenges.
E. Rose Langston, MS, OTR/LPediatric Occupational Therapist, Pediatric Possibilities
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I am thrilled to have this book to reference and to recommend! Marsha blends her years of therapeutic experience together with parent and child perspectives to help give insight into the complicated world of picky and anxious eaters. This book provides a road map for analyzing the relevant factors and helping the child learn to take baby steps toward finding fun and enjoyment in eating. Parents and therapists will find an abundance of practical tips paired with relatable examples and a sense of humor.
Heidi Liefer Moreland, MS, CCC-SLPPediatric Speech pathologist, Clinical Coordinator at Thrive with Spectrum Pediatrics
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I love this book! Marsha has healing words for parents and therapists of children who struggle with food or whose mealtimes have become fractured with anxiety, fear or stress. Instead of only theories and “don’t dos,” she gives practical words and strategies to help find a way forward for children and those who care for them, their eating and their futures. This will definitely go in my library for both parents who need hope and other therapists who want to provide rest and a direction to their patients and families.
Diane Bahr, MS, CCC-SLPSpeech Language Pathologist, author Nobody Ever Told Me (Or My Mother)That! Everything From Bottles and Breathing to Healthy Speech Development and How to Feed Your Baby and Toddler Right
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Anxiety is a big concern in our modern world which is likely related to our current busy (on-the-go) lives. I was born into a farm family who toiled in the fields. Meals were important breaks for interaction, relaxation, and eating local foods without distractions. This is not the case today. In this book, Marsha helps parents and professionals understand how anxiety impacts eating and drinking habits and skills. She supports families and professionals (who work with them) move forward to create easy, healthy, and enjoyable mealtimes. Thank you, Marsha for all you have done over the years for all of us.
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLPspeech language pathologist and pediatric feeding specialist
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The feeling we all want at mealtime is connection - with the food we love and the people we eat with. Anxious Eaters offers practical strategies and ideas that will reconnect you and your child at the table! It provides guidance and thought-provoking insights to consider when feeding children who are worried about eating. Overall, this book teaches compassion while empowering the reader to support anxious eaters, find mealtime peace, and help children reach positive food discoveries. Most importantly, it takes the blame off of children (and the adults who feed them) and gives your family a fresh start.
Jenny McGlothlin MS, CCC/SLPCLC Feeding Therapist and Author of Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating & Conquer Picky Eating for Teens and Adults
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I love this book! Such a multitude of wonderful ideas and thought-provoking questions to help therapists consider their practice and work with parents. I know all of these wonderful strategies will be used with the children in my therapy program!
Melanie Potock, MACCC-SLP, author of Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes, co-author of Raising a Healthy Happy Eater, and author of You are Not an Otter: The Story of How Kids Become Adventurous Eaters
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Marsha Dunn Klein approaches the anxieties of our hesitant eaters by creating a new relationship with food based on building trust, confidence and curiosity. The ultimate goal is not to “get” the kids to eat healthy food, but help extreme picky eaters develop a love for all kinds of food. What a joy to have a book that teaches parents and professionals what Marsha does best – approach the anxious eater with love and compassion.
Sanford C. Newmark MDOsher Center for Integrative Medicine, author ADHD Without Drugs: A Guide to Natural Care of Children with ADHD
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Marsha Klein is a brilliant feeding therapist who has transformed the lives of many families in my own practice. Now she offers us a wonderful book that enables both parents and professionals to make use of her 50 years of experience. it is thorough, practical and readable, it should be on the shelf of every feeding professional as well as any parent who has a child with feeding problems.
Melissa Davis MS, RDNRegistered Dietitian
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Marsha Dunn Klein has written a wonderfully detailed book with specific, creative and fun strategies to bring even the most worried eaters back to the family table. Marsha demonstrates compassion and concern for all family members and understands how to start from where the family and child are now. This book fills a much-needed gap in the literature well beyond the typical advice for managing picky eating behavior. A must-have on every pediatric dietitian resource list.

Brady’s Tips

When Brady, our Get Permission Ambassador, was eight, he decided he wanted to help other children who were worried about trying new foods. After learning how to try new foods in a Re-Define TRY it way, he (and his sister) started making videos. He is a natural! Check out this Anxious Eaters group for more of Brady’s videos and post your own!