Back at the beginning of January when I started my ‘In my kitchen’ guest blog series, I shared how I feed my family. If you read this you will know that both my girls are fussy eaters. My eldest is almost 5 and used to be a really good eater but is now a fussy eater. Some things she won’t touch at all, other things that she used to eat she now won’t touch and some days she won’t even eat things that are normally her favourite foods. My youngest will be 2 in June and I think she’s more of a picky eater that fussy eater. If she’s in the mood to eat she’ll eat anything but most of the time she just doesn’t seem to want to eat.
I was sent a copy of The gentle eating book from Sarah Ockwell-Smith to review. I’ve been slowly working my way through it and since it was released yesterday I thought today was a good day to share my review.
What is gentle eating?
The first chapter explains what gentle eating is and the idea behind the whole book. Basically, gentle eating is a relax and healthy ethos to eating. This chapter explores this concept in more detail.
To get the best out of this book ideally you should read the next two chapters before finding the chapter relevant to your child’s specific age group.
The physiology of eating?
I found this chapter really interesting. It explains and explores the whole physiology of eating from how hunger occurs, the physiology of taste and the effects of stress and sleep on hunger and appetite.
Adult eating and why it matters
You might wonder why a book on feeding children covers adult eating. It’s really obvious when you think about it. As adults, we need to lead by example because our children are watching and learning from us all the time.
Again I found this chapter really interesting. It explores ideas about how many of our beliefs and behaviours surrounding food stem from our childhood. For example, do you remember hearing your parents saying? (or have you already said to your own children) “Good girl, you ate all your dinner.” or “no pudding for you if you don’t eat your dinner up”. The chapter further explores emotional eating and the link with reward (e.g. chocolate “treats”).
Adult body image and negative self-talk are also covered as well as diet culture and finishes with some tips for healthy adult eating.
The rest of the book is split into chapter based on specific age ranges. These are:
- Birth to six months
- Six to twelve months
- Toddlers and preschoolers
- school age (5-12 years)
- Teen eating
These chapters discuss nutrition and eating at each stage and how gentle eating applies at each age. Common eating problems at each age are explored along with questions from parents.
We are past needing the first two stages here but I have had a quick flick through so I could give you some information. For example, the first stage gives equal space to both breast and bottle feeding and includes lots of advice for either situation and even combination feeding. There is plenty of advice for dads as well as mums too.
The weaning section talks about when to introduce weaning, will weaning aid sleep? puree or baby led weaning, shop bought or homemade. Gentle eating does favour a baby led weaning approach.
Toddler and preschool eating
The next section was of interest to me as E is 20 months old. It starts by setting out that this is the most challenging period eating wise with picky or fussy eaters being very common, in fact it is normal for this age. Ideas for causes of picky eating are explored such as autonomy struggles and sensory struggles.
Solutions are offered too. Possible solutions include giving your child back some control. Ideas like allowing them to serve themselves from serving bowls so they are in control of how much food is on their plate. Or a grazing plate rather than set meal times. The biggest thing I have learnt though is to try and be more relaxed, as this will remove the pressure of eating.
Early school-age eating
This chapter covers everything from school dinners, health education and growing, shopping and cooking food. Weight and body image are also explored including under and overweight children. The questions from parents cover children from aged 5 to 12 too as obviously this is a big age range and the difficulties change at each stage.
The final chapter explores teen eating problems such as dieting, junk-food addicts and disordered eating. This chapter is not as long as any of the others but it does offer lots of advice on preparing teens for independent living and navigating the top stresses of this years.
Finally, a list of resources and references are included so you can go away and explore the ideas and issues at each stage in more detail.
I found this a really interesting read and one that I will refer back to over the years. It doesn’t offer quick fixes for fussy eater because there aren’t any. It has given me lots of ideas to try as well as made think about why my children eat the way they do. It has also made me realise that their eating habits are normal and that the biggest change I can make is to try not to stress about it and make mealtimes less of a battle.
The gentle eating book is available to buy now from Amazon (Please note this is an affiliate link).
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of The gentle eating book in exchange for writing this review. All thought, opinions and photos are my own.
The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk
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