Just Take A Bite is a thorough resource that will educate parents whom are trying to survive one meal at a time. Written by an Autism and Behavioral Consultant (Dr. Ernsperger) and a Pediatric Occupational Therapist (Ms. Stegen-Hanson), it first introduces parents to the types of eating problems children may display then goes into the physical and developmental reasons for them. Even the title of the first chapter helped me change my own frame of mind. Rather than using the term "picky eater", which rather implies that it's all attitude on the child's part, we are introduced to the term "resistant eaters". Just seeing that when I first opened to book made me stop and think about how I was looking at my own daughter and her eating habits.
This book is 236-pages of information, case studies and suggestions for changing the tide at the dinner table. Chapter two discusses oral-motor development, starting in utero and going up past two years of age. Chapter three covers environmental and behavioral factors which contribute to eating problems, while chapter four discusses sensory- and motro-based problems that could be causing the situation. Other chapters help the reader design and implement a treatment plan and discuss ways to use environmental controls during meals. The final chapter discusses allergy-related diets, cultural factors and issues in older children. The appendix includes very useful tools: a copy of the Food Pyramid for 2-to-6 year olds, reproducible Treatment Plan sheets, and cue cards to use with the Treatment Plan.
I think my reading the USDA "Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children" turned into a huge service to my daughter. I had labeled her as a picky eater (there's that phrase!) because she didn't clean her plate the way her older, calmer half-sister does. I made the assumption that my daughter was being stubborn, willful, and purposely not eating just to cause problems. Then I read this book and started to realize there are other factors at hand. My daughter, like her father, does not appreciate foods with a strong scent or strange texture. My attempts to force-feed her just led to a battle of wills. As I worked my way through Just Take A Bite, I began to see how smell and especially texture really do affect a person in more than just their "preference" of whether to eat or not. When I finally spotted the food pyramid I realized the biggest error I've been making. I'd been overfeeding her! I have twice requested such a guide form our pediatrician's office and they handed me an ADULT food guide sheet. I had no clue that I was trying to make a toddler (now preschooler) eat two or three times what her body could handle eating!
The layout of the book is the most helpful part. Not only the resources in the appendix, but the general format of this large sized text. The headings are in bold and suggestions are easy to spot. The margins are large enough for notes and the graphics are crisp and clear. As the type of reader who learns best with little visual clutter, I really appreciated having room to see what I need. Space to highlight, take notes, stick Post-Its...this book at first appears to be a dry college-type text, but when you start reading it you'll realize the tone is very personal, while authoritative, and you will learn from it all.
Reading Just Take A Bite has, of course, not made me or my daughter perfect at meal times. I have noticed that the smaller portions don't seem to intimidate her as much as a plate full did, and learning more about the different reasons for eating challenges has made me more patient and understanding on good days. We still have our battles, but I'm better able to decipher whether they are about the food or about missing out on playtime to eat. I am Very thankful to have been given the opportunity to read this book and I plan to continue implementing the suggestions in it in the hopes of having few, if any, future mealtime battles with my daughter.