The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America

Holt. Nov. 2018. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9781250120984. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781250120991. SOC SCI
The story of freelance writer Sole-Smith's (New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Slate) daughter is harrowing and will quickly draw readers into this survey of American eating culture. Unable to eat properly in her first few weeks of life, the author's daughter had a feeding tube inserted. Their journey to remove the tube and learn to eat "normally" again leads to question, what is "normal" eating anyway? Modern Americans, particularly women and children, are bombarded with conflicting messages of what they should eat and when. Sole-Smith covers many topics from picky eating to gastric bypass surgery and particularly focuses on societal messages around what children and pregnant women should eat but also address other adults and different socioeconomic classes.
VERDICT As noted early on, this book discusses topics that might be uncomfortable for some readers, and as such is not for everyone, particularly those with a difficult history with food. That said, readers wishing to learn more about disordered eating as well as those looking to be more mindful about food and the social messaging around it, will find this work useful.

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