Sunday, February 11, 2018

Books that I have read recently

Some thoughts about a few things I have read recently:

First Bite - How we learn to eat by Bee Wilson
This is a non fiction book I recently finished reading. I don't think I've ever been so enthralled by non fiction. This book is highly readable and absolutely fascinating.  There are 8 chapters - Likes and dislikes, Memory, Children's food, Feeding, Brothers and Sisters, Hunger, Disorder and Change.  It covers how tastes are formed, why babies and toddlers don't like certain tastes, how we can teach children - and adults- to change their tastes, the relationship between eating and hunger and how family affects how we eat.  And more.

Seeing as I have a vegetable refusing 2 year old this book was a real eye opener.  It's not a parenting guide, it isn't about getting your child to eat, but it does contain some useful info about eating well.  A lot of it is written from the viewpoint that a great majority of people have disordered eating patterns, that we don't eat purely to fulfil hunger and that anyone can change their tastes with time and repeated exposure to new tastes.  I took a few things away from it, which are:

  • We should enjoy every mouthful we eat.  If we don't like what we are eating, we should change it.
  • If you want to enjoy new flavours, try them.  Try them repeatedly.  Give yourself  20 or so exposures to them before you decide if you like them or not.
  • Cooking and eating should be pleasurable.  You can learn to enjoy cooking and eating.
  • Children don't like bitter food.  But they can learn to.  If they refuse vegetables, don't turn it into a battle, don't hide veg in the rest of their dinners.  Offer them tastes of things outside of mealtimes, a lick will do, or a tiny pea sized amount of it the new food, which they can put in their mouth and spit out again.  Reward the try with a sticker or similar, do not reward them with chocolate or other food.  persevere with new tastes.  They will get it eventually and they can learn to like bitter food.
  • If we feed our children sweet things to cheer them up when they are little, or as a reward for doing a good thing, then they grow up to associate sweet things with feeling good, and these sweet things become comfort food.  If we were to reward our kids with healthy food they would grow up to associate healthy veg etc with comfort.  Wouldn't that be a fab thing.
  • Children's formula milk is manufactured to taste sweet because that's what adults think children's food should taste like.  The tastes and likes of children are most heavily influenced between the ages of 4 and 7 months.  What they eat then has a correlation to what they like as older kids and adults.  If we flavoured formula milk with spinach or other veg they would be more open to these vegetables as they get older.
  • Breastmilk contains the flavours of what the mother eats.  However eating lots of veg and other good stuff does not guarantee that the toddler will like vegetables.  Don't I know it.
  • When a child or adult is disgusted by a food they are genuinely disgusted.  Force feeding them the food won't make them like it, it will just continue to disgust them. If you want to get over your disgust of a certain food you need to repeatedly an gently expose yourself to it over a period of time.
  • Food is a joyous thing and it's quite sad that lots of people don't enjoy a wide range of flavours and textures.

Bike Topia - Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures
This is a brilliantly enjoyable set of short science fiction stories which involve the use of bicycles.  I think cycling is the most civilised way to travel, and in a future where there may be little petrol or diesel available it makes sense that people will rely on bikes.  And that those in power will control the use of bikes.  I enjoyed all stories apart from one, which I found quite disturbing, but that's down to my personal sensitive points.  Find more info about the book here:

Hitler's Forgotten Children by Ingrid von Oelhafen and Tim Tate
This is a non fiction book about the children of the Lebensborn - those with racially pure parents that were selected to be raised in Nazi ideology and to form the Nazi warriors of the future.  I'm halfway through and so far we have mostly covered Ingrid's early post war life and been given an overview of her adulthood.  As a young child she found out her parents fostered her and I have just got to the bit where she is discovering that she was a Lebensborn child and she is trying to track down her biological family.  This is a really interesting book that makes clear the horror of a government directed drive to create racially pure citizens, and shows how not knowing your origins can seriously affect your life.

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