First Bite Book Summary - First Bite Book explained in key points
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First Bite summary

Bee Wilson

How We Learn to Eat

3.8 (29 ratings)
16 mins
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    First Bite
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    Think you were born to hate certain foods? Think again. Your palate is built through experience.

    Have you given up on the possibility of your child ever liking broccoli or brussels sprouts? It might seem as if children are hardwired to hate certain foods, but this simply isn’t the case.

    Researchers, whether neurologists or biologists, agree that our palate isn’t something we’re born with but something we learn.

    The mainstream consumer, however, is mostly unaware of this fact. Many of us believe that our love for sweets is an evolutionary phenomenon. Humans learned to seek out sweet foods because, unlike bitter foods, they generally weren’t poisonous. So as sugary treats are everywhere, we can blame our brains for being unable to resist the sweet temptation.

    And yet here’s an interesting wrinkle. While humans supposedly crave sweet treats, what one person considers sweet may be thought of as bland and tasteless to someone else.

    A 2012 study revealed that some individuals don’t get their sweet fix from sugary cereals, but rather prefer a ball of mozzarella or a sun-ripened cob of corn.

    There is plenty of sugar in foods that aren’t immediately thought of as sweet. Consider that nearly a third of the population in Western countries doesn’t reach for sweetened cereals for breakfast.

    The most important factor in your palate’s development, far more important than your biological makeup, is your food environment.

    Which sorts of foods did you grow up eating? If you didn’t consume a lot of sugar as a child, fresh corn on the cob tastes as sweet as can be. But if you gobbled a lot of processed salty snacks and sweet treats, that ear of corn won’t satisfy your craving for sweetness.

    In short, taste isn’t something we’re born with but rather something we learn through eating.

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    What is First Bite about?

    First Bite (2015) reveals the real root of eating problems: our very first childhood experiences with food. Backed by fascinating scientific studies, these blinks explain the perils of marketing food to children and the negative influence of gender norms and well-intentioned families. Finally, they direct us toward positive dietary change.

    Best quote from First Bite

    A child will only benefit from a healthy balanced lunch when he or she has developed a taste for healthy balanced food.

    —Bee Wilson
    example alt text

    Who should read First Bite?

    • Parents who want their children to eat healthily
    • Individuals worried about binging or comfort eating
    • Overweight people struggling to maintain a balanced diet

    About the Author

    Bee Wilson is a historian and author of many books, including Swindled and Consider the Fork. Also an acclaimed food journalist, Wilson was named food writer of the year in 2002 by BBC Radio and food journalist of the year in 2004, 2008 and 2009 by the Guild of Food Writers for her Sunday Telegraph column, The Kitchen Thinker.

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