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First Bite: How We Learn to Eat

Narrated by: Karen Cass
Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (59 ratings)

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Summary

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.

©2015 Bee Wilson (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"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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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

This is a fascinating study of how we form our eating habits, how they are learned rather than 'just how we are', and how they can change. Both well researched and really accessible. (on a side note can I suggest that the epilogue would be even better on audio with the music from the Sunscreen song playing in the background?)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Highly interesting and engaging book

As a fully fledged adult who has struggled with severe food neophobia for over 30 years this book was an incredible find.
Interesting and detailed information that never felt like a lecture or monotonous this books covers social and cultural aspects of food and how we eat. It also discusses (albeit not in any great detail) a variety of cases of disordered eating that go beyond the obvious as it becomes clear that our relationship with food has definitely gone wrong somewhere!
If you’re looking for nutritional information or dietary advice however then this isn’t for you.
Interesting perspective on something I, personally, am eager to learn more about.

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  • Rhx
  • Australia
  • 12-03-19

One of the best books on food and eating written

This is a fascinating and eloquent book beautifully written and beautifully read. Not only is Bee Wilson an accomplished Jounalist but she and her loved ones have suffered in their relationships with food. So this is one of those rare discussions weaving in culture science and her own intelligent reflections. I know this is an exceptionally good review but this book deserves it. I’m sure you will enjoy this if you are at all interested in food and changing how you eat.

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  • RC
  • 18-09-17

Fascinating

A truly fascinating, engaging book - a fantastic resource for anyone thinking about changing their own or their children's eating habits

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Wonderful and insightful book

I really enjoyed this book which was made a delight to listen to by the wonderful narration. The narrator made the story feel as though it was the author herself talking about her personal experiences like one would with a friend.

The book was insightful and based upon with scientific research without being too bogged down in details.

I recommend this book to anyone that is looking for an alternative explain to why they have a particular diet or anyone trying to set their children up with positive eating habits and diet.

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  • JJ McClay
  • 04-06-19

Fantastic. Insightful. Great narration.

I loved this book... I have a screwed up relationship with food that I don’t want to pass on to my baby. In ‘First Bite’, I learned so much about how we eat — so much of which is completely the opposite of what we, as a culture, think. I’m so glad I read this book, and especially glad I read it before my baby has started solids. Narration was top notch too. If you’re interested in food, cooking or eating, or if you have kids who are fussy eaters, or kids who you just want to eat better, or if you have a bit of a messed up relationship with food (hello, chocolate binge!) or have been on one (or one hundred) too many diets... then read this book.