Top critical review
7 people found this helpful
Consider buying a book by Ellyn Satter instead....
on 18 March 2014
I had high hopes for this book - I have quite a collection now on eating problems and thought this would be a good addition. I also love the title and the cover. So I started reading with a potential maximum score of 5 stars....
Until the introduction. Oh dear. Selective Eating Disorder (my main area of interest) is outside of the remit of the book. On closer inspection there is also an Appendix at the end of the book with a list of other exclusions: Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Diabetes, Looked After Children, Obese Children and Underweight Children. Hhmmm I am going to have to take one star off because I would really expect this list of exclusions to have been made clear in the cover text to avoid people wasting their money.
Closer inspection of the Selective Eating Disorder (SED) section in the introduction is slightly concerning. The author refers to the American Psychiatric Manuals DSM IV and V and correctly states that SED is not included as a recognised eating disorder. What she doesn't mention is that there is a new definition Avoidant & Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) from the year before her book is published which supersedes the informal term of SED. In the introduction section "Health Warning" there are further inaccuracies "if you have any serious worries about your child's eating, there are professionals available to you who can be a vital source of help and support". Clearly the author has very little knowledge or experience to understand the limitations of the advice she is offering. In practice there is very little support for complex feeding issues. Parents are passed from pillar to post between professionals who provide contrary advice based on feeding lore rather than research. Another star off for factual innaccuracies.
I also remove one star because the author's solution to picky eating is almost entirely behavioural. But what about food sensitivities/intolerance, sensory issues, motor problems or gastro intestinal issues? I didn't expect the book to cover these things, but if EAF does not work for some families it may be that there are deeper issues. The author does say that if your child has been diagnosed with health problems then the book isn't relevant - BUT a lack of diagnosis does not mean that the problems are not there. Not providing a list of "red flags" for when extra help might be warranted means that families might plough on with EAF when it is unsuitable.
Baby-led weaning (BLW) is held up as the ideal way to transition your baby to solids. From personal experience it is not (Katja Rowell's book Love Me Feed Me gives an excellent appraisal). It only works for children who do not have underlying problems, which of course parents can't know until it is too late. If I had £1 for every time I had been told that my son would be a good eater if I had used BLW then I would be a wealthy woman! I did. He isn't. It is much more complicated. There did not seem to be any acknowledgement that there could be serious long term negative consequences resulting from the advice being given. I can't blame this author for the sins of Gill Rapley, but I wonder whether EAF could be equally problematic.....
If you think that you have a bog standard picky eater War & Peas will probably be of great help. Unfortunately if you have more serious problems, or want to use the "precautionary principle" to avoid causing problems, or in case your child has underlying difficulties which might be compounded, then consider choosing another title. I would suggest that Katja Rowell and Ellyn Satter have clearer methods and their advice is rooted in long term clinical experience. Ellyn Satter has lots of free guidance on her website and she is available to give personal advice via her facebook group.
Good luck with your picky eating journey.