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The Dinner Diaries: Raising Whole Wheat Kids in a White Bread World

3.06  ·  Rating details ·  139 ratings  ·  46 reviews

A harried mother of two, Betsy Block is in pursuit of the perfect family meal: local, toxin-free, humane, and healthful. But soon she finds herself in a mealtime maze beset by conflicting, often unrealistic advice, and further complicated by two picky kids and a finicky husband. Determined not to give up the good-food fight, she comes up with a creative ten-step makeover p
Paperback, 261 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Algonquin Books
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3.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  139 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was one of those books that, when I got it home, I wasn't sure why I'd bought it. So naturally, I didn't have great expectations when I started it. I was pleasantly surprised--I've been doing a lot of reading lately about food and feeding and the ethics and economics of food, and frankly it can all get very overwhelming. I liked Betsy Block's approach, though. She walks you through every step of her family's food makeover, from meat to whole grains to that Waterloo of most families with you ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I found this book at the dollar store for guess how much? A dollar! But I really liked it! I read it in like literally, a day. However! It was a day where I spent 5 hours laying out, working on my tan. So I had some free time for reading. It could be read much more slowly and thoughtfully and still be thoroughly enjoyable. It was fun to read, but also really educational. I feel healthier just having read it...
Heidi Klinowski
Aug 29, 2016 rated it liked it
With 3 very young grandchildren I find myself looking at foods the way I did with my own children back in the 1970s: What are these ingredients? How can I make it healthier for them? How can I get them to eat more veggies? etc.
Many of the suggestions in this book were things I'd already done but there's always room for new ideas.
Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was worth only three stars (more autobiography and fewer recipes than I'd hoped for--I should have paid more attention to the title). But I'm giving it an extra star because it inspired me to eat kale. Voluntarily. More than once.
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really great book ... Informative, packed with ideas, yet reads like an entertaining memoir by a mom who spent a full school year trying to makeover her family's diet. Truly enjoyed it!
Jan 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: food, memoir, non-fiction
Review A

Near the beginning of this book, Block contacts a nutritionist for professional guidance in evaluating what to change about the way her family eats. After 'five minutes of awkward conversation' the nutritionist says that she doesn't want to work with Block basically because organic food is elitist, and it doesn't make a nutritional difference – and focusing on it is not just a nutritional waste but an affront.
Block remarks to the reader that, upon reflection, this nutritionist was with
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really related to this book. Many of us start the food wars with our children while they are still in utero. We try to get every gram of nutrients reccomended by What to Expect When You Are Expecting, even though we really want the most awesome preggo dinner ever, which is a bucket of ribs, topped of by using nutter butters as a spoon for chocolate frosting from the can.

Then the baby arrives and we feel guilty if we don't breastfeed, and defensive if we do, especially if your baby does not wa
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
Betsy Block, mother of two, and wife of a picky eater, is just trying to do what most of us are trying to do – put a decent, healthy meal in front of her family three times a day. But in these days of genetically modified crops, fish full of toxins from polluted waters, and meat from CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations, like our local Perdue chicken houses), it’s a lot more complicated to figure our what is healthy than it used to be. Then, add in the ethical concerns: Was this food obtain ...more
Aug 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
Yes, I've rated this book zero stars. Not 1 star for "didn't like it." But zero stars for I HATED IT. I finished this book solely so I could write a review of it. I HATED this book. The author was snarky and irritating. And slow. Not in her writing, but in her learning. HELLO!? If you're going to be disgusted because your kids are eating the potato chips that you brought into the house, don't bring potato chips into the house! She advocates that parents hide treats just for themselves and lie to ...more
Jun 23, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is so well-intentioned, so personal, so full of useful information, but honestly it made me feel so bad about how I feed my family (and I feed them well) that I put it down for nearly a year before I could bring myself to finish it. And I'm afraid I won't put many of her suggestions into action because it's all rather overwhelming: the charts on good fish and bad; the boxes with websites for more info; the earnest tips and recipes. Here's an example: "Excellent breaking news: the inten ...more
Oct 03, 2008 rated it liked it
I've heard this described as a family friendly version of Animal, Vegetable Miracle. I think it is both more and less than what that description implies. The basic premise is that the author's family wanted to improve the way they eat, both for their health and the health of the planet. They won't be raising much (well, basically any) of the food themselves, so they begin sourcing for local, sustainable products. Along the way, they investigate toxins in foods and food containers, RDAs for child ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: never-finished
It's like Block wants to be the Michael Pollan of soccer moms, but she just comes across as snobby, narcissistic, and impossible. For example, she talks to a dietitian who says that championing organic food is the wrong path to improving nutrition in America (you know, because if a kid has eaten a total of 6 different kinds of vegetables in his life and an average of 5 vegetables a week if you include the 4 servings of french fries, pushing for those occasional few carrots to be organic isn't go ...more
Sep 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
I found this book after I left story time at the library with my 2-year-old. I thought the idea was interesting-- a mom tells her story of how she changed the eating habits of her family.

I got about 2 chapters into it and couldn't stand to read any more. The author really turned me off with her descriptions of her family and parenting style. (She is upset that the kids eat so poorly, but then gives in to their whining. She also decides to let the kids eat whatever they want and the 10 year old s
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was surprised to find I loved this book. I was a little skeptical, mainly because it received mediocre reviews. But it completely defied my expectations.

The author, Betsy Block, documents her attempts to transform her family's diet to be more healthy, organic, and eco-friendly. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her struggles in getting her family to come on board, and how she slowly but surely made her home a place with wholesome food.

One aspect of her book that I appreciated was all the re
Dec 30, 2008 rated it liked it
A mom tries to improve her family's diet, mostly focused on what's healthy for them, but also focused on what's healthy for the planet. She's a funny writer and shares some really funny stories about her family that made me laugh out loud.

Her kids and husband are really picky eaters. I don't have such picky eaters to deal with but I still found the steps she took really interesting. Parts (the chapter on which fish to eat in particular) were informative and gave me information I'll use in my ow
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Boston resident Betsy Block, a mother of two, chronicles the ten-step overhaul of her family's eating habits. The issues she tackles are hardly ground-breaking (the typical: less sugar and meat, more omega-3 fatty acids and whole grains, switching to local and organic purchases whenever as possible) but her writing is so honest and easy-to-relate to that I was quickly drawn in. This book is as much about the trials and tribulations as it is about food. Block's children and husband are much more ...more
Oct 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Ms. Block seems determined to make things as complicated as possible. Her final conclusions are: eat less meat, eat more vegetables, eat more whole grains,and be aware of what goes into your food. Ummm...duh! The whole book just seemed silly and a little too rambling for my taste. I am also endlessly amused by people who seem to have no grocery budget. Some of us can't afford organic produce and free-trade sugar! Another issue was her hiring a nutritionist. In the real world, if I want my family ...more
Nov 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
Couldn't finish this one. This author lives in a world of indecision. The basic idea is that she (and her fairly supportive husband) want to overhaul their family's diet to be healthier. They are all picky eaters and she decides to consult a nutritionist, a farmer, a ...I don't know. She does go to a place where they slaughter pigs to learn more about, what exactly, I do not know.
I do know that there were times when I really wanted to shake her and say, "consistency and decisiveness go a long w
Jul 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Not quite what I expected. I really got the feeling that she wrote this book because it was 'The Cool Thing' to write about. She mentions a lot of other books, and 'field trips', but I don't get the impression that she really got anything out of them.

On the whole, it reads like a Chic-Lit novel - the plucky heroine trying to do 'x' (in this case change her family's diet) with all sorts of opposition, but triumphs in the end (of course) when said family comes to the realization that a healthier d
Apr 19, 2009 rated it liked it
This was kind of a fun read. It's about a mom's journey to getting her family to eat better. While I am not willing to be as determined in certain things as her (like getting milk and eggs from somewhere closer to the source than Costco), it encouraged me to be a bit more proactive in introducing a few new things to my kids. I am also glad to see that my kids are far better eaters and much more adventurous than hers, so I feel like I'm a step ahead.

Just a fun read that gives you some good thoug
Jul 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
I really liked this book. I don't have kids, but this book would be great for parents who want their families to eat healthy meals. Betsy Block was very funny, as were her husband and two kids. I really liked hearing about her family and their step by step process as they tried to become healthy. It also gave me some ideas of what I should and should not be eating (especially types of fish). Overall, the author made this topic interesting and fun to read about, unlike many books on this topic th ...more
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
This is an odd book. I found the author to be, well, a tad too self-righteous for my comfort. I can't imagine being this hard on the food choices my kids want to make. It was like a somewhat more challenged version of Kingsolver's recent book. I definitely preferred Kingsolver and would recommend that over this.

The idea here was that it would be Kingsolver for the folks with young children, but it doesn't work that way in practice, and while it was interesting, I can't really recommend it.
First read July 2008. (Bought at the Strand in New York City.)

July 2008 review: Interesting but ultimately depressing book about eating healthily (and getting your kids to do the same) in our "white bread world".

April 2011 review: Rating remains the same. The question of how to balance nutrition needs with environmental concerns, the local food movement, etc. is a complicated one - and I'm not sure this book has the answers people are looking for.
Jul 16, 2008 added it
Recommended to Laurie by: Matthew; Bailey-Coy Books
I enjoyed The Dinner Diaries--Block is a witty writer who captures some of the humor and heartache of feeding her children--but I often wished I could tell her to relax and just let her kids eat some candy/crackers/cookies, etc.; it's really not that bad. At my house we strive for moderation, and my daughter eats plenty of things that, judging from this book, Block would condemn.

Matthew (my husband) recommended this book on his blog:
Morgan Siem
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it
The concept is great. I'm very interested in the food-makeover journey that she takes on. I'm a huge advocate of understanding and being responsible for where your food is coming from, whether or not it's healthy for you and whether or not it's healthy for the environment. The downside of the book for me was the author's tone. She was incredibly negative. She seemed to approach the whole subject with a whoa-is-me attitude.
Oct 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Okay...I'll never actually do any of this stuff...I guess I just hope that, in some ways, it will help me get my kids to eat a little healthier. This was, by far, the best book I've read about healthy eating for kids...funny, informational...and, she knows it's hard work, she doesn't act like it is the easiest thing in the world to puree a bunch of shit and fool your kids into eating it.
Jul 31, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a breezy, easy read. I think it would be a good book for someone venturing into the food politics issues for the first time, but for someone who has already read a lot into the issues, this was mostly review. But the personal and sometimes hillarious stories of Betsy's attempts to get her family to eat better are great.
Aug 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
For all of us who want to eat organically, locally, and sustainably. Betsy Block will make you feel good about any progress you make on your journey by revealing hers to us. She never makes you feel badly about the beef jerky or chips in the pantry but provides guidance and resources for making incremental yet significant changes in the way you bring food to your table.
May 10, 2009 rated it liked it
I have actually lived the chapter on trying to by fish. This book was hilarious, even though her kids and picky husband can be annoying, it is very relatable for me!!! Like Animal Vegetable Miracle only funnier.
Aug 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Joy by: found it at Barnes & Noble
Shelves: parenting, cookbooks
I stopped reading this book. Some of the positions were a little extreme for me (like dairy is bad!), and her kids seemed like spoiled brats. I wanted it to have more strategies or more basic nutrition information I guess.
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