I notice there’s something about super-tasters and child picky eaters on BBC Two at 9pm tonight, in The Truth About Food. I’ll certainly be watching it, and reporting back if it is at all worthwhile, but if you can’t make it or if you’re not in the uk, you can see a clip of it if you follow the aforementioned link.
For some reason, I really like hearing other people, especially children, announcing lists of foods they don’t like. I find it somehow gives a retrospective affirmation to my own experiences which were never validated at the time. I find it really satisfying, although I also find the taste-bud test for super-tasters rather icky to look at.
More on the programme later, no doubt.
Quite an interesting programme, all in all. The supertasters thing was really just a reference to the fact of it – ie some people have more tastebuds than others, and hence find things like broccoli a bit yucky. It did show examples however, using the “blue food-dye on the tongue” test, of what “non-tasters'” and “super-tasters'” tongues would look like. And I believe I can confirm my suspicion that I, like Isaac in the programme, am not a super-taster. Of course, having never tasted broccoli, I can’t comment on whether I find the taste of it appalling or not, but I can say that my desire not to eat it must have to do with something other than how it tastes to me.
There was also a demonstration about how peer-pressure can affect our food preferences. A group of “cool” child actors visited a primary school to hang out with the children. The children were self-confessed vegetable-haters, whereas the child actors were specially selected for being veg-eaters. At first, I thought some of the children might be picky like me, the way they refused to eat vegetables. This suspicion was refuted though, when they bowed to the peer pressure, and ate the broccoli, without a hint of a tint of a gag reflex, and even ate it spontaneously (and happily) at home on later occasions.
I also learned that sugar doesn’t make children hyperactive, and that portion size can be a stronger factor than hunger in determining how much one eats at a sitting. Personally, I’m not sure it’s that simple, but more about that another time.
The programme also showed how “forbidden” foods become more attractive, simply by virtue of their being forbidden.
One other thing that kind of relates to pickiness, was the idea that you have to try a particular food a certain number of times before you will be able to like it. The number chosen by the programme was ten – the child in the programme had to eat some avocado every day for ten days. At the end of this period, he said he still didn’t like it, but he did dislike it less. The statistic they quoted was that 62% of children did begin to like the food in question after being presented with a small amount on ten separate occasions. What I am wondering is whether the magic number is necessarily the same for everyone.
This programme has certainly given me some food for thought, and in particular, some inspiration and some ideas to test out on how to improve my pickiness. Watch this space.