I’m reading a book called First Bite: How We Learn To Eat by Bee Wilson. It’s an interesting discussion on the psychology of eating.
I’m on page 72 and she’s been discussing Children’s Health, namely: how should children’s diets be governed? She tells of a 1912 meeting of British educators who gathered to discuss the problem of children’s health in Britain. Because public education had become mandatory, they knew the problem was to find what to feed the children during school lunch and how to make them eat it.
What this episode did, according to Bee, is challenge the idea that, in children’s food, pleasure and health are enemies (71). Basically, how we tell children what to eat, and how we talk about what to eat, creates responses to the food we eat.
This information can hardly be read without remembering my own experiences growing up- the fusses I made and the food I liked. I hated lima beans, and though I’ve learned to eat them, every time I see them I remember an episode in my childhood where I sat, alone, at a friend’s dinner table, crying over a plate of lima beans because I had to eat some before joining the birthday party.
This bland memory contrasting the savory flavors of my family’s home cooking- mom’s spicy spaghetti, dad’s stir fried beef, my brother’s hot curry, sister’s desserts, and a family adage: You touch it you take it, you take it you eat.