|persimmons: love em now!|
I was one. As a kid, I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for more meals than I could count. Here's a short list of the foods I would not get near before adulthood. Pizza, tacos, any Italian or Mexican outside of crusts and tortilla chips. I'd have spagetti, but only with butter. White rice with sugar and milk for breakfast, but if you added anything else to rice, I was out of there. Salad was too "mixed up". Same with casseroles, meatloaf, all Chinese and Japanese foods-- anything with more than a couple of ingredients. I couldn't stand mayonnaise or salad dressing (still can't-- well, that may be changing thanks to the noselessness deal); olive oil was much too strong. I had my first slice of pizza (cheese only, of course) at 20, and my first burrito at 21.
A couple of decades later I was a nearly full blown foodie. There were still things I couldn't bear-- the smell and taste of coffee, even in desserts; olives in any form. But I loved, or maybe learned to love, exotic cuisines with all their layers of taste and fragrance and textures. My weight sure tells the difference-- I was 115 lbs when I graduated high school, and it wasn't anorexia. I just didn't like most food. But boy, did I learn to!
I have a niece who's just starting to expand her palate as she nears 20. For years she lived on white rice, egg whites, plain noodles, american cheese. She's still not a fan of most fruits. Like me (ok, a former me, and if you are lost, read the last two blogs) she's a super-taster. And for those with hyper-developed olfaction and taste, foods that perfectly palatable to others are wholely horrible to her.
|RoadKill Birthday Cake: Thanks, Rosie!|
There have been some informative articles recently about picky eaters. Long thought to be a childhood problem, adults are coming out of the white-food closet to tell their stories. There is even a website devoted solely to information and support: pickyeatingadults.com/.
True supertasters have a lot more papillae (taste-bud structures) than the average Joe. They taste bitter flavors with a much higher, and less pleasurable, intensity. Counterintuitively, a study found ST to love salt-- and perhaps it is because it changes the taste sensation of foods to which it is added. If American, they're unlikely to love exotic cuisines, because the chances of avoiding a bitter vegetable or component in a sauce is small. Other STs are actually SSs: super smellers. Since about 80% of taste is actually interpretation and response to odor, these people are also getting three-ring circuses when you are getting the one clown with the big flower. It's just too much information.
|fungi are not everyone's cup of tea|
It may seem like a small deal, but food aversion issues can be pretty problematic. There are social consequences, from teasing to relationship/marital conflict. It can be hard on self-esteem. I have worked with clients who years later have issues with eating related to punishments they received for not finishing the food on their plate-- being served the same cold vegetable only for every meal until it was eaten, for example. Such misplaced "cures" can turn picky eating into full blown eating disorders that last a lifetime.
|The Foods That Scare Us|
Like many individual differences, picky eating is usually no more a choice than eye color. Understanding this can be a boon for those of you that love someone who won't eat what you serve. Instead of arguing, let them choose (and perhaps prepare) their own meal. If they are a child, limit the choices to healthy ones that are nutrient dense and consider use of supplements. If they are an adult and you are worried about their health, avoid criticism and empathize the concern. Ask them to reassure you they are getting adequate nutrition. Encourage them to see a dietician to find out how to protect their body while they are trying to appease their palate. But don't take it personally. We often feel that reality is what is true for us, and variations from that are resistance to it. But each of us pops into the world with very individualized tastes. Learn to savor the differences.