Although Mary Beth Albright had been studying the latest research developments connecting food to mental health for more than a decade, she decided to write her new book, “Eat & Flourish: How Food Supports Emotional Well-Being,” after going through first a divorce and then another stress-inducer, the pandemic.
“They say that every time a baby is born a mother is born, too. And every time there’s a divorce, there’s a single parent born,” Albright says.” I was going through a lot during that time with isolation and trying to help my son both through the divorce and the pandemic.”
The new role as a busy, single working mother to a teenage son helped to shape the book into “a science book that is also a practical handbook.” As a food journalist at the Washington Post, Albright writes and creates videos of simple “food hacks” to inspire audiences with doable new ideas for the kitchen. “It was critical to me that people could implement this in real life without it sounding like a diet.” The book focuses on food pleasure as well – how, scientifically, we react differently with certain cutlery or eating communally.
Albright, who is also a lawyer by training, has been fascinated by food’s connection to well-being since working with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. “It was one of my first jobs and I really gained a big respect for hard science when you’re dealing with something as important as mental health and emotional well-being.”
In the end, when it came down to writing, Albright contemplated the professional set up she might need – a new desk, writing software – but ended up, not surprisingly, in her kitchen.
“I feel comfortable there. The kitchen table is such a special place. It’s where it all happens. There is some energy coming out of that.”
Mary Beth Albright will read Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C., livestreaming at politics-prose.com.