Are you a picky eater? You can probably blame your parents
First off, a quick test to gauge your level of pickiness:
If your score is less than 5, you’re probably pretty fun and easy going to have over for a dinner party.
If you score is 5-8, you’re probably moderately annoying to cook for.
If your score is 8 or more, don’t except a second dinner invite.
If you’re an 8 or more, it’s not your fault. You can blame your parents, because science says an unwillingness to try new foods, as well as a dislike of certain foods, can be a result of both your DNA and your upbringing. Either that, or you have a legitimate phobia—it’s called neophobia, which means a fear of new.
Back to blaming your parents: In short, different foods both smell and taste differently to different people—i.e. you DNA dictates your palate to a certain degree.
An obvious example is cilantro: People seem to love cilantro or hate it, and when you talk to people who can’t stand the taste they often tell you it tastes like soap. Truth is, there’s an actual gene responsible for making cilantro taste like soap to some palates. Check out this article for more: (https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-you-love-or-hate-cilantro-the-reason-may-surprise-you/).
This concept goes beyond just cilantro, of course. There is a group of people considered “supertasters,” meaning their taste buds taste bitterness much more intensely than the average person, so they tend to steer clear of many more bitter-tasting vegetables, including lots of green vegetables. Further, there’s also evidence that some people also taste either sweet or sour flavors much more intensely than others, causing them to avoid overly sweet or sour foods.
It makes sense, right? There’s always that one person who says, ‘Whoa, this is way too sweet for me,’ as you devour the piece of chocolate cake wondering why that person has her knickers in a twist.
The other group of people we shouldn’t blame for being picky eaters are young children and toddlers, as not liking certain foods while being cautious of new ones, is a protection mechanism we inherited from our primitive ancestors. They weren’t as educated about what was safe to eat and what wasn’t, so this mechanism was naturally in place to stop them from poisoning themselves.
While this phenomenon is most prevalent in young people, it doesn’t entirely disappear when you’re an adult. Everyone’s senses are different, and if it smells bad to you, or it feels like it’ll make you sick, you probably develop a natural aversion to it: Again, this is your body’s way of avoiding what it thinks might poison you.
Upbringing and genetics aside, some people are just plain old picky and resistant to trying new foods: Usually these people aren’t that much fun to have over for a dinner party. If you’re one of these people and you’re tired of being the awkward guy in the corner who just isn’t enjoying the feast like everyone else, there’s hope for you because:
Your taste buds actually change over time!
We’re all born with 10,000 taste buds, which get replaced every two weeks or so. Over time, as you get older, they don’t all get replaced, so your number of buds starts to decrease. Often this means certain flavours that you found too intense when you were a child start to become more enjoyable as you age.
Some research done on the topic that looked at close to 2,000 adults (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2950608/How-AGE-affects-taste-food-start-liking-olives-anchovies-blue-cheese-twenties-survey-reveals.html) discovered that when it comes to certain foods, such as spinach, mussels, anchovies, blue cheese and pickles, to name a few, people tended to start enjoying their taste a bit more at the age of around 22.
Thus, there’s actually a scientific reason your kids don’t like the “green things!”
Along a similar line, your mother was, in fact, correct when she kept telling you, “Try broccoli again. You might like it now!”
This is because your taste buds actually change every 7 years. So, if you think you still strongly dislike shellfish, and have avoided it for the last decade, give it another chance! Your taste buds might have acquired a taste for it in the last 7 years.
Your mother was right a second time when she told you you needed to try a food a few times before deciding whether or not you liked it. The truth is, trying foods over and over can help you trick yourself, so to speak, into liking them.
If your tastebuds are holding you back from eating healthier—if you’re someone who dislikes many healthy vegetables and can’t stand seafood— try cooking these foods in various ways. Try them baked, then sauteed, then fried, then pureed in a soup. Add some butter, try them with coconut oil, and always add salt and pepper. And then try them again—five or six times—over the course of a couple weeks.
By the end of the two weeks, you might just find yourself craving Green Eggs and Ham, Sam I am!