Book Review – First Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson


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As a teenager I had a problem with emetophobia (fear of vomiting), which did lead to some complicated relationships with food following any period of illness. Because of this I’ve always been fairly cautious of what I eat. Thankfully, being rather fond of vegetables I don’t think I was of much concern to my parents, even though I will admit I was a bit picky (yes Mum I do realise I was embarrassing in public when I wanted a dry, bread bun rather than a tasty sandwich – sorry!).

In addition as an adult, especially because I suffer from depression at times, I do eat emotionally and I can go through some pretty rough patches whenever I try to lose weight. One of the ways I have been trying in the last year or so is giving up sugar, unsuccessfully I might add, though I have managed to cut back. I was drawn to reading this book after having come across a few articles online by the author Bee Wilson regarding ‘clean eating’ and similar movements that have been fashionable of late.

In summary, Bee Wilson focused on the idea that while the food being promoted by ‘clean eating’ is indeed good for you, an unhealthy mental attitude towards food generally can develop. I’d already come to this conclusion on my own, but I wanted to know more about how she’d come to that conclusion, which is when I found out about this book. I wanted to read it as part of understanding better why I have those rough patches and why I have found giving up sugar much tougher mentally than physically. I have certainly found myself a great deal better informed because of this book.

‘First Bite’ is a well researched and fascinating account of how people learn how to eat. It is mostly focused on children, and I highly recommend it to any parent trying to understand why their child is a picky eater. I also recommend it generally for anyone interested in eating habits and the possibility of changing them as adults. Of everything I learnt from the book about how we learn to eat, the most important conclusion is that we can re-learn how to eat as well.

There is a lot of scientific research within the book, but don’t be put off by the thought it will be boring. This book is anything but boring: it is so engrossing and so interesting I found that I couldn’t put it down. It is an incredibly well written book. Non-Fiction can sometimes be different to penetrate but this is not the case here. Everything is very well explained and easy to understand.

I will add Bee Wilson’s disclaimer to this review: ‘First Bite’ book is not a diet book. Nor is her latest book ‘This is a Not a Diet Book: A User’s Guide to Eating Well’ – her work is very much a focus on the scientific research and theory. Neither book is a regimented diet designed to help you shift the pounds, they are books there to explain why we eat the way we do and how we can go about changing our mental approach to our diet. I have ‘This is Not a Diet Book’ too, and I recommend that as well, because it is a lovely little book of advice, and support, and understanding from someone who as an adult has changed their eating habits.

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About kabrown4

A quaint life full of teacups searched for inspiration to fuel a writer dreaming of fantasy worlds that are full of friends found only in words. I have been writing for as long as I can remember and over the years I have developed many stories and many characters. This is my blog about the journeys I've been on over the years, and the road I'm still travelling as a writer.

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