Camila Alves McConaughey helps with picky eaters in new children's book

camila alves mcconaughey
Camila Alves McConaughey co-wrote the book "Just Try One Bite." She is the wife of actor Matthew McConaughey. (Ashley Burns)

In the opening of a new children’s book called “Just Try One Bite,” the rhyme goes, “Hi Mama. Hi Papa. It’s time we had a chat about oatmeal and carrots, and pasta and cake, and mustard and custard and chicken fried steak; about pork butts and peanuts, and the choices we make.” There’s some role reversal here, as children plead with their parents to try some healthy eating. Adam Mansbach and Camila Alves McConaughey co-wrote the book. Alves McConaughey joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about this new story of precocious eaters. 

Interview highlights follow below.

Why the authors wanted to get kids thinking about food choices:

“The relationship with food is such an important one,” said Alves McConaughey. “I’m not here to tell parents what to feed their kids, how to feed their kids. But you know, the inspiration behind [the book] was to give a reminder in a fun, funny way that the conversation about food — where it comes from, how does it work, what is good, what’s not, why … It’s an extremely important conversation, and I’m a big believer that the earlier you start that conversation, the most likely you will be setting your child up for lifelong good habits.”

“I come from a family of farmers, and the relationship with food between seat to table was very clear for me growing up. But we never had the conversation about sugar. I had as much sugar as I wanted growing up. And what do I still struggle in today? After I have three kids and an adult life, it’s sugar. I still have to struggle with it,” Alves McConaughey admitted. “I feel like if we started this conversation early with kids overall, and make it fun, make it funny, take the guilt out of it … it’s something that will pay off.”

Starting the food relationship off on the right foot:

“We’re going to have this relationship for the rest of our lives. We need to eat every day, daily, right?” said Alves McConaughey. “The relationship with food should be fun, and it doesn’t have to be over-complicated … You’re going to start having more fun with food, and then all of a sudden, you get more curious. You start going, ‘What’s the next level of doing better for myself?’ Right? ‘And what’s the next one?’”

Mike Boldt’s charming and very relatable illustrations:

“After Mike did the illustrations, Adam’s like, ‘I cannot imagine the words in the page without the characters.’ He’s like, ‘You really see them. You really feel them.’ He did such a great job. You feel like you’re there with the kids going, ‘Come on, in your face, mom and dad!’” said Alves McConaughey. “It is a multicultural family, you know; that’s my family, that’s Adam’s family.”

“I have three kids. Adam has three kids; Mike has three kids and the editor has three kids. I think we all could really see ourselves in this book in terms of trying to get our kids to ‘just try one bite.’ And I think that the majority of parents go through the same struggles, whether easier or harder.”

“Just Try One Bite” by Camila Alves McConaughey and Adam Mansbach is out now.