We are not born knowing what to eat. We all have to learn it as children sitting expectantly at a table. For our diets to change, we need to relearn the food experiences that first shaped us. Everyone starts drinking milk. After that it's all up for grabs. We are not born knowing what to eat; we each have to figure it out for ourselves.
From childhood onwards, we learn how big a portion is and how sweet is too sweet. We learn to love broccoli - or not. But how does this happen? What are the origins of taste? And once we acquire our food habits, can we ever change them for the better?
In First Bite, award-winning food writer Bee Wilson draws on the latest research from food psychologists, neuroscientists and nutritionists to reveal how our food habits are shaped by a whole host of factors: family and culture, memory and gender, hunger and love. She looks at the effects siblings can have on eating choices and the social pressures to eat according to sex. Bee introduces us to people who can eat only food of a certain colour; toddlers who will eat nothing but hot dogs; and doctors who have found radical new ways to help children eat vegetables.
First Bite also looks at how people eat in different parts of the world: we see how grandparents in China overfeed their grandchildren and how Japan came to adopt such a healthy diet (it wasn't always so).
The way we learn to eat holds the key to why food has gone so disastrously wrong for so many people. But Bee Wilson also shows that both adults and children have immense potential for learning new, healthy eating habits. An exploration of the extraordinary and surprising origins of our taste and eating habits, First Bite explains how we can change our palates to lead healthier, happier lives.
"When you open First Bite and see science, don't panic. It is a weirdly addictive, intelligent and enjoyable explanation of why we eat as we do: more unputdownable than any non fiction has a right to be. Everyone should read it. And it might change your life." (Charlotte Mendelson)
"Bee Wilson is the ultimate food scholar. First Bite is a brilliant study of how we form our food preferences and how we may be able to change them. Her narrative kept me hungry for more until the very end." (Yotam Ottolenghi)
"No matter what our age, we hunger for childhood food. First Bite weaves together fascinating scientific research to show why we wish we were still kids in a sweet shop. The book's powerful message is that we can tap into the way we learned to eat as children to discover new flavours and healthier food habits." (Heston Blumenthal)
"The research is fascinating - I read it like a novel - and the writing a joy. But what makes this book so affecting and original is that it's clearly personal and heartfelt. I found it very moving." (Diana Henry)
"This is a fascinating, at times provocative, investigation into how and why we eat what we do, how food can be both medicine and poison, and a call-to-arms manifesto to make eating guiltlessly pleasurable for all." (Nigella Lawson)
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