How do we learn to eat?

In his most recent publication, First Bite: How We Learn to Eat the English writer Bee Wilson undertakes multidisciplinary research with the aim of showing the role played by every bite we take. Her comprehensive documentation shares key factors for "relearning" to help us feed ourselves and, in the end, to live better.

We are not born knowing what to eat; it is something that we solve gradually through our experience following just what experience shows. As we taste, we identify when something is sweet or salty, very cold or very hot; suddenly we discover we hate spinach and love chocolate. In her most recent publication, Bee Wilson tries to explain how the process occurs in which we learn to eat, when the origins of our taste are established, how habits are formed and, above all, how they can be corrected for a better life.

First Bite: How We Learn to Eat is the result of the multidisciplinary approach that the English writer decided to use to keep track of how we learn to eat. She went to nutritionists, psychologists, neuroscientists and professionals of the culinary world, among other experts, seeking to understand how culture, family, memory... gender issues, emotions or social pressures, among other factors, play a part in the way we choose our food, from when we are able to do so.

Bee tells us about people who only eat hot dogs, for example; about people who are only able to eat food of a certain colour, she explains why so many people struggle with cabbage or what causes eating disorders. How children relate to their treats, how grandparents overfeed their grandchildren in China and how Japan succeeded in establishing such a healthy diet, among many other stories.

"the central premise of “First Bite” is one that we’d all be wise to see as liberating, generous and ultimately optimistic: If we learned what and how to eat as babies, we can unlearn and relearn and actually change what Wilson sees as our collectively chaotic relationships with food — even if those relationships are tangled up in powerful childhood memories or crippling guilt; even if our children are deceived into craving Fruit Loops while watching SpongeBob; even if we make our way through a ­supersized world where there are countless triggers messing with the off-button for eating", explains Jenny Rosenstrach in her article published in the New York Times.