THE EATING INSTINCT by Virginia Sole-Smith


Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America
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An exploration of eating issues in relation to our body image–obsessed culture.

In her debut, Parents magazine contributing editor Sole-Smith offers shrewd insights into far-ranging concerns about struggles with food. She confronts a variety of healthy eating trends and challenges the persuasive yet often ambiguous messaging supporting these trends, including the recent spate of celebrity-endorsed product lines. The author also relates her recent struggle as a parent trying to feed her infant daughter, Violet, in the midst of an early medical trauma. Diagnosed with a rare congenital heart defect, Violet underwent several difficult surgical procedures, forcing her to often rely on a feeding tube. In her attempts to encourage Violet to develop natural hunger instincts through organic nutritional substances, Sole-Smith was slow to realize that her instincts as a food and diet specialist were undermining Violet’s natural—and, in her case, ultimately healthy—craving for something sweet and satisfying: chocolate milk. The author chronicles her conversations with individuals and families across the country: low-income parents struggling to provide healthy and affordable meals for their families; picky eaters and their challenges; individuals dealing with a newer and more complex issue such as avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder; and other food writers, some of whom feel pressured to promote and live by the latest healthy trends. Though Sole-Smith’s observations are more thought-provoking than prescriptive, her narrative leads readers toward a better understanding and acceptance of individual instincts. “We must decide for ourselves what we like and dislike,” she writes, “and how different foods make us feel when we aren’t prejudging every bite we take. It takes its own kind of relentless vigilance to screen out all that noise. It requires accepting that the weight you most want to be may not be compatible with this kind of more intuitive eating—but that it’s nevertheless okay to be this size, to take up the space that your body requires.”

A well-informed and only occasionally overreaching consideration of a broad, complicated topic; a worthwhile read for anyone with anxieties about food.

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-250-12098-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2018


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