War & Peas: a new book tackling children’s fussy eating

Toddler feeding collageThings move so fast with a rapidly growing little one that it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. It’s really important to celebrate the little achievements as well as looking ahead to the next stage. Like the fact that the 22 month-old Scrip now doesn’t just smile when nursery rhymes come on – she can also sing (or mutter) along to them, which we find very sweet (not to mention entertaining). She’s progressing from jumping to ‘dancing’ and she can now entertain herself for long enough for me to put a load of washing on and make our lunch.

She’s also what I’d consider to be a good little eater now. She won’t wolf down anything and everything with relish and she still asks for favourite foods, but she will generally try new things and she’s got a healthy appetite. Breakfast is definitely her best meal (three Weetabix this morning – not sure if that’s the kind of thing I should be shouting about or not) and she has just one small (healthy) snack in the morning and generally nothing else between meals. When it’s time to eat a main meal she will sit still and eat and is competent with her mini knife and fork.

War & Peas book coverWe’ve come a long way since I first started thinking about her eating habits, a point brought home to me recently when I read Jo Cormack’s brilliant new book ‘War & Peas: Emotionally Aware Feeding – end the battle with picky eaters’. But we can still make improvements. I don’t pore over baby manuals as a rule, but I have found a number of books about food and mealtimes useful through the months – as I’ve written about before. Reading War and Peas was a useful refresher on some of the behaviours I’ve been trying to encourage – and an introduction to others that seem really sensible and helpful.

The book explains the Emotional Aware Feeding (EAF) principle so much better than I would, so I won’t go into it in detail, but essentially it shows that pickyness in eating is very normal, but that some parents’ behaviours – both deliberate and subconscious – could actually be contributing and making the situation worse, not better. And it gives some simple techniques to help change behaviour for good. It’s not preachy or guilt-inducing – it’s helpful.

Jo is the sister-in-law of a very good friend of mine from Cornwall, and I had heard a bit about her techniques before, so I was really keen to read the book. She’s very well qualified – as a counsellor, mum of three and former foster carer, she’s experienced on lots of different levels. And she’s developed the principle of Emotionally Aware Feeding over the last few years.

This is why I liked the book so much:

  • It’s a pretty short read – so good for dipping in and out of in the evenings, on the commute or between feeds for parents of younger ones.
  • Although relatively slim, it’s definitely packed full of info and practical advice.
  • Jo sets the scene really well – I recognised myself in so many of the coping behaviours she outlined (so it convinced me I wasn’t alone in previously bribing/battling at mealtimes).
  • It’s broken up into 14 short, manageable chapters, clearly set out and explaining the technique and how to implement it, step-by-step. There are also selected case studies as you go that Jo says can be skipped if you prefer, but I think they help bring the theory to life.
  • There’s a neat summary at the end of each chapter – a few simple bullet points giving the key points.
  • Everything is backed up with references to relevant studies and evidence – again you don’t need to look at the detail here but it’s reassuring that this isn’t just one person’s point of view – this is a carefully researched approach.
  • Unlike the other books I’ve read on the subject – like the fab French Kids Eat Everything – Jo doesn’t position this as a story or a personal journey. It’s nicely and neatly written but is more straightforward in style. It’s not dry – her personality does come across – but it’s economically written, which is appealing. So I’d recommend War and Peas even if you’ve read what you’d consider to be similar titles.
  • And it works! Since reading it I’ve reinforced some existing ideas (like eating as a family as often as possible) and introduced some new ones. And so far, so good.

It’s definitely worth a read. I’ve already talked to a couple of my mum friends about how useful it is and am sending them the link to buy online – and that’s the ultimate test.

What: War & Peas: Emotionally Aware Feeding – end the battle with picky eaters
Where: Buy it online now
How much: Currently £4.85 for paperback, even less for Kindle

See more on Jo’s EAF website.

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