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S5 E8 – Fussy eaters: so is it nature vs. nurture?

This week on the podcast, resident dads Jamie and Barry join resident non dad, Mike, to chat about the ins and outs of fussy eating.

How much influence do the people around us have on the food we eat? Why do we convince ourselves that we hate certain foods in childhood when our taste buds constantly change as we grow?

Best soundbite: “No, go on pineapple boy.” – Mike Huttlestone

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As metnioned in the podcast. We’d love your feedback as we look to Season 6! Fill it out here.


  1. Luik

    Hi, I’m going through the back catalogue. So I’m a biologist but I minored in psychology at uni and I predict you will have exactly the opposite effect if you do your experiment as you have planned. Because you will have a very unpleasant situation of forcing yourself to eat something you dislike and it will just increase the aversion. But people have overcome food aversions by persistently trying them out. So what I’d recommend (and would love to see), is if you partnered up with a cognitive behavioral therapist, had a chat about this topic with them and then came up with a schedule of trying olives or something over a period of time, say a month (or whatever the cpt expert suggests), maybe, just for funsies, while doing something pleasant, like someone giving a massage or saying compliments. And then at the end of that see if the aversion has lifted any.
    Mike’s part of the experiment shouldn’t make his hate of blue cheese any worse, but I suspect if the taste is completely hidden he’ll only like it in that particular context.

    Anyway. Fun episode, I hope you won’t torture yourselves. I recently listened to another episode of the sporkful podcast (I swear I’m not paid by them) about picky eaters, where an expert suggested it’s not worth panicking if a child is a picky eater (as long as their nutrition is sufficient) and if they see their parents trying various foods and enjoying foods they’ll also grow out of their pickiness.

  2. cutus88

    I’m not a fussy eater by any means . Of course there’s food I prefer and there’s stuff I really don’t like – cantaloupe is my most enemy . My family was always very strict in making us eat our veggies and what not . On the other end of the spectrum- my friend rarely strays from stuff he likes . I believe he told me he was a super taster but it sounds to me like that hindered him from trying new things . Like when traveling, he’ll rarely try the new cuisines and would rather go to known places he’s been to before . He told me he rarely if ever eats fruits or veg. New foods are very few and far between. I recently convinced to try an avocado . Me being Hispanic – avocados are a necessity- I was shocked he’d never had. The experiment was a bit of a fail- a big fail- as he got a packed guacamole kit from the store and put all the spicy ingredients in there . He may be scarred lol

  3. LTJD

    I am a fussy eater and this coupled with the fact that I have tons of food allergies and do not eat meat when eating out, makes restaurant visits an experience 🙂 With that said I was worse growing up, hated veggies and fruits with passion. Luckily both my parents and kindergarten teachers soon learned that there was no point in trying to force me to eat it cuz I just refused and apparently I was more stubborn than them. And thanks to people not forcing me to eat stuff I did not like the older I got the more veggies I ate. Another interesting example on the subject of learning to like something; when I was a kid, kid I loved oatmeal and my mom gave it to me a lot. When I got a bit older though I started hating it a refused to eat it, whenever it was served. Flashforward 30+ years and I taught myself to like it by forcing myself to eat it every morning and now oatmeal is a staple in my household.

  4. Annie1962

    So how does the post casts work as I am a new member. I just watched one re tasting combinations of food and there was the visual aspect. ie film..
    This was just audio.

  5. joelistic

    About Barry’s problem with beers or pineapple might be intolerance unless there is really an allergic reaction. I find myself having a reaction to chicken lately. Wherein I had rashes whenever I eat chicken for a certain amount of time, which is so random.

    Going back to fussy eating, we are trained by my parents to eat whatever is in the table. We are trained to never say no to something without even trying it. I have a bad relationship with okra ever since I had tried it and anything related to such texture. I tried it again when I was older but I think that slimy texture can’t ever be removed without losing the taste of okra.

    But another food that I had a fuss about is the bitter melon and luffa. Bittermelon because of the taste and luffa because of the texture. But then, my mom found a way to make the bitter taste gone and a better way to know which loofa are too old or overripe. Overripe loofa have a leathery texture because of the fibers.

  6. quika

    For the future, with English as my second language, I would have loved to hear what a “fuzzy eater” is in the very beginning. 😉 Didn’t take long to figure out though… I myself am not a fuzzy eater at all, but my wife is to a degree, and I have three kids (6, 4, 2) to cook for. I have to say that it is quite challenging to find a good variety of food that is healthy and every one of the four will eat, particularly since the kids tend to change their preferred taste every month or so… But I do try to keep them interested and trying out new things every week. And my wife actually has a much broader food pallet already. 🙂

  7. I was a super picky eater as a child and it mainly had to do with texture. How something felt rather than tasted in my mouth would determine wether or not I would want to eat it again. Flavours were not something I remember hating too much of. although growing up we didn’t really have a lot of variety and to this day mom still isn’t super fond of using any spices other than the basics of salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders.

    Now as an adult I try anything and everything even if I think I may not like just for the experience cause you never know you just might find your new favourite and if not, now you know for sure what not to order at a particular restaurant or use in a recipe.

    For the food aversion video ideas, are we talking one specific type of blue cheese, banana and olives or a variety? especially seeing as there so may different types of all three out there, are you just trying to like the one type and hope it works for that specific type of say olive even though there may be a variety out there you just might love? obviously you can only use what is readily available to you in your area but its a thought. like for Barry, apparently the blue banana from Hawaii tastes like ice cream? or the small red banana from Costa Rica tastes more of a raspberry-banana combined.

  8. JaneCB80

    I feel very passionate about this subject. I have 4 children, I was a fussy eater as a child but not as an adult, and my husband is a fussy eater as an adult. Our children are a mix. I have a child with Autism. I really believe there are both genetic, congenital, neurological and psychological elements to food.

    The biggest being sensory processing.
    For my children, texture is the issue for 3 of them. They have over come this by using a desensitising method advised by an occupational therapist which is to use an electric toothbrush (nothing on it) before meals. It totally worked!
    Rather than searching for taste bud degeneration, do a literature review of sensory processing surround taste. As we get older, I feel our processing slows down rather than loosing taste buds. However we can work on this and develop these neurological connections our entire lives. I don’t think we get to a certain age and say that’s it I will never be able to like that because I’m now 34. Our brain and nerves are always renewing.
    I have finally got my husband loving mushrooms and he has just turned 40!

    Texture was a problem for me when I was little. Mash potato, weetbix, readybrek etc. There are only 2 things I have an issue with now goats cheese and milk which I just can’t explai. But if I smell or taste it I immediate start retching, and she’ll fish which is psychological after looking after a patient in emergency who had a horrific allergic reaction and vomited all over me, and I mean head to toe vomited his shell fish on me so I can’t help but relive there experience every time I see or smell shell fish

    • Sorted

      Such an insightful comment! It’s nice to see how you can be trained out of fussy eating I guess, especially with your husband now liking mushrooms. And ha, don’t blame you on disliking shellfish at all considering that!

  9. Margusenock

    I agree that it comes from childhood and maybe genetics. All the food that I do not want to try (sea food except for salmon) has a certain “background”, small mix of associations and memories. With age I sometimes consider trying some fish or snails but….. then I stop. I also find it hard to try bugs….I am not mentally ready for that.

    There is one example I know that makes me think that it all comes from childhood, but it is more like a psicológicas trauma rather than just a picky eater. A person I know has a farther who is a countryside vet. So one day he received 2 small piggies as a present. It was about Christmas and my friend was about 5 years old. She named them and was playing happily with new pets for some weeks. On Christmas dinner she was enjoying a plate of food and then suddenly asked where are her “friends”. Her farther was too stupid to make a “joke” and pointed at her plate. She was eating her piggies. She was 5. She is close to 40 now. She is vegan. She stopped eating meat and chicken at that day. Her main food was potatos for years. What was considered normal to her farther because he is a countryside vet and in their village they do so, was not normal to a child. She is very picky at what she eats and what she wears. Can’t judge, can only blame her farther who did not mean bad.

    • Sorted

      That’s such an interesting example of your friend stopping eating meat. It can definitely be difficult explaining to kids about where their meat comes from but do you think it’s best to be transparent from a young age?

      • Margusenock

        I think it is better to be transparent but you have to chose words how to say it. My kids know the truth but I don’t have to tell them all the details. I think that if we hide then we can do more harm later on. I am also a bit against lying about Santa clause and tooth fairy. I do play this game but if and when my kids ask if these are real – I am honest about it. For Santa clause I say – I have not seen a real one so I don’t know (there are Santa villages around the world so a bit of magic is still in the air). I remember myself when I was lied to about small things and one day I have realized that I do not trust/believe my parents anymore. Now I understand that they were doing their best but at that time….

        What do you think? Shall parents be transparent about food, where it comes from and to what extend?

  10. danielahitstheroad

    At the moment I rather have the ‘problem’ that I like almost every kind of food. But as a child I was a bit picky; to be honest, sometimes that was down to trauma. I vividly remember a plate of minestrone I didn’t like which had tomatoe hides and kale and parsley stalks swimming in it (let’s face it, my Mom still is absolutely rubbish with soups…) and Mom was sitting for hours with me crying over a soon cold plate of soup which didn’t help the flavour and force feeding me that minestrone.
    I’ve not touched that soup ever since; my taste has changed so much in my teens/twens that I’m sure I’d like it now, but I can’t go near the stuff.
    Coriander greens is on the soapy side for me (learned from you guys that’s genetic) , peppers I like raw but not cooked although I can now tolerate them in small quantities, blue cheeses I learned to love because a friend I trust implicitly blindfolded me and fed me bits of blue cheese with pears on crackers and I realised I was only put Off my the look of it. I am picky in that I love Roquefort and Stilton, but am not as fond of Gorgonzola.
    Regarding olives, I trained my husband to eat them by introducing different varieties: because olives do not equal olives. For example we found out he’s not great with black olives in general, but there is a tiny variety on the Greek islands he loves. Can’t stand Kalamata olives, but he likes Manzanilla.
    So maybe in that video you planned (brilliant idea btw) introduce different olives and maybe also different bananas. I tried apple bananas with pacoca in Brazil lately and the texture and flavour is quite different to a bog standard one. Maybe you can get them in London.
    I like them most at a state others would probably throw them out, like almost black when my husband wants them still a bit green. He’s a constant source of wonder for me 😁.

    • Sorted

      Doesn’t sound like a problem to us! So great that you try foods you might not like, you’re totally right in that might be a variety that you end up loving – we’ll def consider that for the video.

  11. Dimi

    Growing up, like the boys talked about, my mum had a small repertoire of things she cooked. They were not your standard meat and 2 veggie dishes, as she was born and raised in Cyprus, and their cuisine is very different, but unless it was an occasion and we were doing party food, it was usually the same 5-7 dishes. She was the youngest of 5 girls (and 4 boys) so she never had to learn to cook growing up and is not the greatest cook. Vegetables were always, always, ALWAYS overcooked. As was all meat, if there was even a slight hint of pink in the meat it was RAW.
    As mentioned in last weeks comments, we also never ate out either, and take away was a supermarket roast chicken.

    I considered myself a fussy eater growing up, there are a lot of things I didn’t like eating, and there are still things I don’t like eating now. It has a lot less to do with texture, or them touching things, but is all about the flavour for me.

    As a kid, I was pretty stubborn about not eating things I didn’t like, and if I tried it once and hated it, that was it for all forms of that food. As I got older and started eating out and discovering new food (and that there was more ways to eat vegetables than boiling the life out of them), I also started experimenting with food, and found some things I hated as a kid, I now liked. Now I will try anything once, and even if I don’t like it, if a different version of it is presented to me, I will usually give it a go.

    Not liking Seafood is probably the biggest thing I get grief about as an adult. My dad grew up near the ocean and so he and his family love seafood, but my mum was allergic to most kinds of fish, so she refused to cook it at home.
    So growing up, the only seafood I was ever exposed to was fish and chip shop, battered, deep fried fish. And I did not like it. (Now I don’t mind it)
    Through family and friends and travelling, I’ve got to try a wide array of flavours and varieties pf seafood as an adult. And honestly, I still can’t stand most of it. It’s hard to describe, but basically, anything that tastes like it came out of the ocean, that salty-seafoody-flavour things have, I literally cannot stomach, it makes me gag. Things like fresh salmon and fish that is plain and not to “seafoody” I now quite enjoy. Also things like squid, octopus, crab, if they’re cooked a certain way I love. Do not put any form of shellfish anywhere near me.

    Pork is another weird one, I can’t stand things that taste too “porky” It kind of tastes like dirt to me. Over time, and trying them a few different ways though, I grew to like things like bacon, ham, pancetta, even things like pulled pork or ribs that have been slow cooked with a lot of other flavours so the “porkiness” is cooked out of them I will eat happily.

    I am also adverse to fresh coriander, though I wonder if that’s a nurture thing or if i have the gene. Growing up my mum would make a Cypriot style salad that was entirely comprised of fresh coriander picked from the garden instead of lettuce. It was fed to me regularly and I couldn’t stand it. As an adult, I love Mexican food, but a lot of it has coriander in it, and if there’s a little bit, and the flavour is balanced, I don’t mind it, but if there’s too much, again the flavour makes me gag. Coriander seeds on the other hand, I LOVE and can eat raw.

    I don’t know if I’d say I’m a super taster, but I do think I am more susceptible to certain flavours than people around me sometimes. Such as, complaining a dish is too porky when people around me say they can’t taste it at all. Or offal tasting like metal. And now that I think of it, when I first started drinking alcohol it was a thing amongst my friends to drink Gin and Tonics, and I could not stand them. So I spent years thinking I didn’t like the taste of Gin. When I started living with my boyfriend 5 years ago, I asked him to pick up some soda water and he came home with Tonic water instead cause he prefers it. As soon as I took a mouthful I had to spit it back out. I 100% thought it tasted like I was licking a piece of metal. I also find this with certain types of bottled mineral waters. He immediately went to the alcohol cupboard and poured me a straight shot of Gin, and we discovered I love Gin, I just hate tonic water!

    Texture has never been an issue for me, and I can honestly say there is no fruit or vegetable that I hate, there are definitely ones I prefer over others, but I’d eat any of them if they were put in front of me.

    • alm477

      I’m with you on fresh coriander–a little bit in a dish with a lot of other flavors and the coriander doesn’t stand out? Fine. A lot of coriander just…THERE. Nope, absolutely not. I’ve had food rendered inedible (to me) because it just had too much coriander in it.

      I like pork, but I’ve noticed sometimes if it’s roasted it can get a weird sour flavor that I can’t stand. But only when it’s roasted (and maybe overcooked/dry a bit, not sure).

    • Sorted

      Hey Dimi! I had such a similar situation with my mum growing up, it was only when I wanted to try new things myself and went out to get my own ingredients that she started to see how much more was out there in the world of food. Now she watched LOADS of cooking shows and is constantly sending me weird and wonderful recipes!

      Trying everything once is such a great philosophy – definitely the kind of attitude we try to have when we approach new things. Thanks for your comment!

      Also, what a fantastic revelation to figure out you actually love gin!!

  12. alm477

    I’m a picky eater–never been tested for it, but I am pretty sensitive to bitter flavors, even in things other people say are sweet (for me sugar snap peas taste sweet for a second, and then become bitter. Cooked peaches usually start syrupy sweet and then can have a really bitter undertone). While I am less picky than when I was a kid, I still have a long list of “food rules”. There are foods I will not eat under any circumstances (avocado, cottage cheese), foods I will not eat on their own but are acceptable in something if they are an ingredient (onions, yogurt), and foods I will only eat under very specific circumstances (beans, cabbage, broccoli). However, I will also eat a bunch of foods other people think are weird (uncooked dry pasta, uncooked rice, still-frozen french fries, still-frozen green beans) XD As a kid I drove my parents nuts because I would eat something in one context but refuse to eat it in another (rice, cheeseburgers), if I would eat it at all. With time, less pressure to eat things I don’t want (since now I have a say) and a better way to judge and articulate why I will/won’t like something has helped.

    Texture is also a problem. I have a well deserved reputation for dissecting meat (to the point where my parents threatened/offered to get me a scalpel for my pork chop) because I have issues with the fat/gristle. Porridge/oatmeal/rice pudding/tapioca textures also bother me intensely.

    Also, food cannot touch on my plate unless I allow it to. I don’t know how anyone can eat sugary sweet potatoes that touched salty/umami gravy! And no, saying “they all go to the same place!” has never helped.

    A note about red wine–usually what people hate about it is the tannins. Fat binds to tannins, so maybe Haley might like red wine more if it’s served with something fatty (a steak or pasta with a creamy sauce). This is why I can drink (and love) coffee so long as I put (non skim) milk in it. The fats in the milk bind to the tannins and I can enjoy the aromatic taste of the coffee (and ok, I put a lot of sugar in it too).

    I love black olives that come from a can. Have loved them since I was little, but any other kind of olive I’ve usually found to be vile. Black olives with raw carrots is a delightful snack that plays right into my taste for salty-sweet 🙂

    The tastes of babies and young children does skew salty-sweet. In a class I took ages ago I remember reading something about how sweet tastes could even have pain-relieving properties in very young children (I forgot how they assessed that though!).

    • danielahitstheroad

      So you like the salty-sweet combo of olives and carrots but can’t stand the salty-sweet of gravy and sweet potatoes? That’s odd; why do you think it’s like that?
      I’m a sucker for salty-sweet; I made children in my primary school gag because I loved chocolate and ham on my lunch bread, taking alternating bites.

      • alm477

        When I have sweet potatoes at home it’s almost always ones that have been candied (cooked in an unholy amount of brown sugar and butter until it’s practically sweet potatoes in caramel sauce). So for that it tastes like putting gravy on candy (like, dipping a lollipop in gravy). I’ve had sweet potatoes that had less sugar added that would be acceptable to me to eat if a splash of gravy got on them, but I would never actually pour gravy on those sweet potatoes…

        I can kinda see why ham and chocolate would work. I’m afraid for me and ham, familiarity has bred contempt (eternity is 3 people and a ham), but I could see a bit of chocolate with a ham sandwich working.

    • Sorted

      This is so so interesting, thanks for leaving a comment!

      I’ve passed your red wine tip on to Baz!

  13. marityne

    I wouldn’t call myself a fussy eater, but there are some things I don’t like. Some of them are because of the texture and not the flavor. I don’t care for the texture of mushrooms, but if they are chopped small enough, I enjoy the flavor they impart. When I was a teenager, I watched my older sister tell our parents that mushrooms made her sick, this meant she was able to avoid eating them. I claimed a similar (false) allergy and I was able to avoid mushrooms for many years.

    There are lots of foods I never tried until I was an adult because my mom never cooked them. Either she didn’t like them, or we didn’t have access in our small town. As an adult I try to challenge myself to eat things that I’ve never tried or have always been wary of eating because I was worried I wouldn’t like them. As a kid I hated fish but as an adult I’ve learned that fish can be delicious. I love pickled herring (not Surströmming) but don’t care for smoked fish. I don’t care for calamari (texture thing) but I love scallops. In recent years, I’ve learned that I don’t particularly care for basil in large quantities (like a pesto) but I love other herbs.

    When my mom was sick, she was staying with my older brother and his wife. My older brother is a trained chef who cooked a variety of foods for her and my dad. I remember my mom complaining that my brother kept trying to feed her squash (acorn, butternut, etc.), and she didn’t like it. But since it was good for her, she managed a bite or two quickly followed by a bite of something she liked to wash down the flavor. My one nephew does not allow the food on his plate to touch and one of my nieces can’t stand eggs.

    To comment on the slightly off-topic aspect of babies and how they learn to tolerate different foods, I’ll just say that my other sister ate very spicy foods throughout all her pregnancies and breastfeeding and her children could handle spicy food at a much younger age than most people I know.

    Lastly, I can’t wait for that video!

    • Sorted

      So interesting to see how our palate changes as we grow up, right? Also, super sneaky tactic of saying you were allergic to mushrooms… genius!

  14. badinflspeaks

    First off, the library worker part of me is very impressed with Mike’s information fluency and desire to verify sources. If only I could get students to take it to heart too. So yay Mike!

    When it comes to fussy eating, the older I get the less fussy I get though as I age the more outside restrictions I have on food. Celiac is such a pain to deal with and puts up so many barriers to trying new things. The dill and shellfish allergies don’t help either.

    As a kid, even I would consider myself a picky eater. As an adult, I realize how much of my parent’s tastes (and cooking habits) influenced that. We didn’t eat mushrooms because Dad didn’t like them. We never ate cauliflower or brussels sprouts because Mom hated them. I didn’t like most veg, but it turns out that I just don’t like how Mom made them (the woman has never met a vegetable that she hasn’t overcooked).

    There are certain foods (that I didn’t eat until adulthood) that I flat out refuse to try again. I cannot stand asparagus. It’s too bitter for me (yes, I love brussels sprouts, never said I was consistent). I can only take cilantro in small doses or it tastes like soap. Before I learned about the shellfish allergy, I hated shrimp because I didn’t like the texture.

    I will probably think of more to add as soon as I hit submit. There was something about the age thing and learning to like new flavors that I’ve half forgotten what I want to say.

    • Dimi

      ” I didn’t like most veg, but it turns out that I just don’t like how Mom made them (the woman has never met a vegetable that she hasn’t overcooked).”

      THIS! OMG THIS! My childhood in a nutshell

    • alm477

      “(the woman has never met a vegetable that she hasn’t overcooked)” LOL, my grandma grossly overcooking vegetables is the reason spinach and brussel sprouts were largely banned from my house growing up. Apparently she would boil spinach until it was stringy, bitter slime and then serve it with vinegar and that’s all my dad knew spinach as. XD

      • JoRo

        Reminds me of my Grandma, notorious in the family for cooking sprouts for a whole week in the slow cooker one Christmas. Entire family went off sprouts in a big way for quite a while after that experience.

      • hannahecooke91

        This is so funny making me laugh. I hated broccoli as a kid because my poor mum would boil it to a soggy mush. When I first had crunchy broccoli life CHANGED 😂

    • Sorted

      Hahaa, loving the fact everyone’s bonding over badly cooked veg here! Seems like the way people cook veggies has developed too then… maybe we should all be trying foods we don’t like cooked in different ways?

  15. Smidge

    I take for granted what an adventurous palate I have until eating with others. A friend having a very stressful day had an utter sobbing meltdown when she got Chinese food and it was all touching on her plate, and dinner was beyond awkward. Now, mostly, it’s my finicky husband. Granted, his are mostly allergies but we’ve never had the severity of his issues tested so it’s a guessing game of “Is there secretly clam stock in this?” Or “Green smoothie… does that have Avocado in it or are we good?”. That said… all the more for me! Picky/allergy eaters mean none of my food goes missing, I suppose!

  16. arpitha94

    This was such a brilliant and interesting topic! I went into it thinking “I can’t think of any food that I can I absolutely hate!”. Of course, there are foods I like and don’t like but couldn’t think of one I hated until I remembered papayas!! And the reason I didn’t immediately remember is that I hate it so much that I have avoided even thinking about it for more than a decade. I’m 25 and the last time I had papaya was probably when I was younger than 10. And now that I think about it, it is very strange that I hate it so much. I hate the taste and smell. And it wasn’t even something I was forced to eat as a kid. It kinda came out of nowhere. And now I wonder if I will like it if I try it now.
    Another thing that struck was that I don’t want to eat meat. I grew up vegetarian because my parents’ religion didn’t allow it. But I was never averse to it because my dad ate meat anyway. So now I feel like eating meat isn’t bad, it tastes good, it smells good and it looks good, but do I want to eat it? No. Because I’m not used to how it feels and tastes and I’m just not used it. So its where nature and nurture are colliding.

    The topics lately have been really interesting! I hope they continue to be in the future. I had a suggestion, can you please do a video on if where you grew up influences your cooking of other cuisines? For example, I am an Indian and I grew up eating foods loaded with spices. And now I find I like the same spices in other cuisines as well, like Chinese. Have the chefs experienced something similar, where what they cook is influenced by what they grew up eating?

    • Sorted

      Papaya is delicious!

      Completely understand you on the vegetarian front – I grew up veggie too but my parents never stopped me from eating meat, I just didn’t like it when I did eventually try it haha!

      Great topic idea, I’ll add it to the suggestions for next season.

  17. VixReviews

    Time for another long winded ramble, but this time on a topic that I know basically f all about (aren’t you all lucky…)!

    So, the way Mike was describing what he did and didn’t like was pretty spot on to what my fiance avoids (except he only avoids soft cheeses, he’s a fiend for hard cheese). We had a chat about what exactly it was he did and didn’t like, and we broke it down into three seperate catagories of stuff he hates.
    1) Stuff with multiple textures in one thing, like steak that has fat/gristle, or what he calls hippy goop (well boiled vegetables done over a campfire, usually generously referred to as stew or curry)
    2) Things with strong flavours other than smokey or bitter (smokey whiskey and black coffee are good, oily fish is very very bad to the point I can only cook it for myself with the door closed and the fan on)
    3) Things that just squick him like mushrooms (“its just giant mold!”), lobsters (“like cracking open a boiled sea tarantula and sucking out the innards”), and when I brought up sea urchins he just said “slimy”, then went green and had to leave the room.
    I had a look at is tongue, and he has a slight geographic tongue and absolutely loads of taste buds, but he also grew up with a not very varied diet. Turkey dinosaurs were a staple in his house, and he still loves them.
    He also loves crunchy stuff like Mike. Does Mike also eat coffee beans by the handful? Not made into coffee, or even chocolate coated, just straight up bag of coffee beans as a snack.

    On a completely different tangent, I used to be seen as a picky eater as a child. I hated most carbs, and a whole bunch of random other too. As an adult, I went to the GP, and as JoRo suggested, yup, I was allergic to almost everything I hated. So far they’ve discovered celiacs, peppermint (do you know how hard peppermint-free toothpaste that still has fluoride in is to find??), and pineapple. Incidentally, the pineapple allergy is usually an allergy to the enzyme that eats you back, and so many people are no longer allergic if the pineapple has been cooked to the point the enzyme is denatured. So pineapple juice from concentrate is often OK, though pineapple on pizza usually isn’t sufficiently cooked to fully denature the enzyme. The only thing I really can’t stand that isn’t due to an allergy is blue cheese. Ew, it tastes like mold, why would anyone eat that.
    As a comparison to my fiances, i’ve just been looking at my own tongue in the mirror, and yes I did look very silly. I’d recommend it. Also I discovered that I have a really weirdly smooth tongue (if the Mikado act 1 finale is to be believed, a very attractive trait…?). Compared to my fiance it looks like I barely have any taste buds at all, they’re miles apart!

    Not a particularly good comparisson though, as my Fiance and I differed both in upbringing and genetics in regards to food. So… yup. Go poke people’s tongues I suppose. You might not be able to tell what they like to eat, but if they bite you, you’ll know they probably grew up with siblings.

    • Sorted

      Hahaha, this was brilliant to read – love the idea of checking my tongue in the mirror now!

  18. Anita

    I’ve also heard about research suggesting that a pregnant mom’s diet can determine the baby’s future food preferences. Here, nature and nurture certainly merge <3 The mom-baby relationship is fascinating (not food-related but I've just learned that baby's saliva can actually change the composition of the mom's breast milk). Any moms here with personal observations regarding this food preference topic? It would be lovely to read about first-hand experiences.
    In addition to this, as we know, kids learn a ton via imitation. It all boils down to this: no excuses, we have to practice what we preach to children 😀 How much do you think a kid's picky eating habits reflect the behavior of the adults around them?

    I also often get pissed off by someone else's pickiness, especially if that someone else is an adult 😀 I know it says more about me than about the other person… Anyway, I wouldn't say that I'm picky, I do choose what I eat but I do that based mainly on health and nutritional reasons, I generally appreciate the wonderful world of flavors, and I rarely find something that I cannot stand at all (e.g. black walnuts, they say it's genetic like cilantro), even then, I try to play with it, give it another chance (e.g. roasting). I remember that I was pickier as a child (hated soggy cooked carrots, roasted tomatoes, for example), and as an only child, I admit I was spoiled, too (I often got the processed, sugary crap I was whining for, this might have played some part in my future health challenges) , but I had a best friend much pickier than me and she could drive me nuts even at the age of 8 when she soiled her plate with school lunch without eating a bite just to show the lunch ladies that she did eat their food 😀

  19. JoRo

    Very interesting topic, one I could probably write an awful lot about.

    As part of my job I support young people eating their lunch and have met a lot of ‘fussy eaters’ over the years, in our setting they’ve generally fallen into 3 categories:
    – sensory – they simply cannot handle the sensory input they receive from the textures/smells/tastes of specific foods, this can result in them being unable to even be near foods, actually eating them is a pipe dream. Foods not touching comes from them not wanting the smells or tastes of foods to contaminate other foods – easily solved with a segmented plate. I’ve worked with a group for the last few years who struggle with textures (in food and other things) and we have been introducing foods through play, exposing them to the textures in a low pressure situation (messy play, great fun)
    – control – young people who feel they are lacking control in their lives, one of the easiest things for them to control is what food they consume, they gain control of a situation. This one can escalate very easily into serious problems, e.g. eating disorders.
    – medical – they’ve always avoided certain foods, eventually been seen by a doctor about it and it’s turned out they have allergies or intolerances.
    Less common, but certainly one that stood out has been a fear of foods being dirty, so they would only eat things that came from shops in wrappers or fruits with peel, so wouldn’t eat a homemade sandwich, but shop bought was fine, no whole apples because they couldn’t peel them on their own, but oranges and bananas were fine, as were apple slices in bags bought from shops.

    Personally I have foods I don’t like the taste of, but will eat just to keep the peace (it’s just easier), on the other hand there are foods I love the taste of, but I end up really ill for several days if I eat them, so can’t eat and being accused of being fussy for not eating foods from the second group is infuriating (which is why I encourage families of the young people I work with to see their GP if they are avoiding specific foods).

    My brothers are convinced I’m a super taster, I’m not convinced and suspect what they’re using as evidence (cannot eat even the mildest of chilli in any form) is actually as a result of my allergy to capsicum (but has stopped them calling me a fussy eater, super taster is a much better nickname).

    • VixReviews

      That’s really interesting, would you say there are any strategies that would help adults who fall into the sensory avoidance category? What sorts of foods do you see most being avoided due to this?

      • Anita

        As an adult – so I’m not talking about starving kids here – if you wanted to take to a certain food (and you don’t have any medical reasons for not liking/avoiding it), couldn’t you try eating it a few times when you’re REALLY hungry? Just a little bit of it? Wouldn’t this almost “lifesaving” effect make the experience with that food a bit more positive? Is it possible to rewire your brain like this, nibble by nibble in the long run? I guess a lot depends on the degree of one’s aversion, but hey, it works wonderfully with dogs 😀

      • JoRo

        Patience and not putting on pressure.
        Distraction is one we’ll use a lot while eating, lots of small portions of different foods, talk about something they are enthusiastic about/watch a favourite video, but can take a long time to get to that stage. Getting involved in meal planning and prep, knowing how much of x is being used, honestly what the guys said about having x in something else is a good route, but to avoid destroying relationships and creating trust issues they have to know and be a consenting participant. If the issue is tactile doing activities that involve touching things with similar textures, building up to handling and eventually preparing the food.

        Mashed potato is one that comes up time and time again for some reason, not 100% on why, one young person I’m working with said “it’s got no flavour!” and without any prompting mixed it with their baked beans which just about floored me as they hate their food touching. That being said unprocessed foods are generally avoided a lot more than processed foods (whole fish = yuck but fish fingers = yum).

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