Food Preferences – Why So Different?

By Robyn Priebe on 02/01/2012
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Generally people believe puppies and bunnies are cute and snakes and spiders are creepy.  Sunsets are beautiful but drop-crotch skinny jeans are an abomination.  How is it that visually, some preferences can be so similar for so many people, yet the sense of taste is so varied?  How can one person can list broccoli as their favorite vegetable and another won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole?

At our healthy weight loss spa, I find it’s interesting to look at our participants’ individual dietary preferences.  I wonder how many aversions to foods stem from a genuine dislike of the flavor or if it’s other factors.  Texture of food usually plays a big role in creating food aversions.  However, memories tied to foods could also contribute to food aversions.

Some individuals, due to genetic differences, can detect certain flavors easier than others and that may shape dietary preferences.  Supertasters tend to have aversions to bitter foods and very high fat foods.  Also, we are also born with dietary preferences based on what our mothers ate during their pregnancy.

Before assuming all aversions to foods are something you are born with, try experimenting with changing the texture of foods to see if that helps you incorporate more foods into your eating patterns.  For example, if the texture of legumes turns you off, puree them into a soup or spin them up in your food processor into a bean dip or spread.  If the last time you had green peas they were canned, and you hated them, try fresh peas out of the garden in a pasta salad.

What food have you found you actually like after years of assuming you hated it?  Did your taste preference change as you got older?

2 Responses (Add Yours)

  • My tastes have definitely changed as I have gotten older but there are still a few foods I really can not stand and I think it has to do with texture, taste, and association. These foods include any type of bean (except green string beans) and liver/organ meats. That said, I don’t mind certain beans/legumes in a puree (like hummus). With others, however, it’s also the taste, for example, lima beans. I was forced to eat these foods when I was a child, and in some cases with rather traumatic results.

    By the way, I meant to ask you, while I was there last week, what you think of agave syrup in the grand scheme of sweeteners. I have greatly reduced my overall sugar intake over the years but like to use honey or agave from time to time.

  • Robyn says:

    Hi Karen,
    Agave or honey are very similar if you ask me. While people lean towards agave because it apparently has a lower glycemic index, that’s only valid if you were eating a big bowl of agave versus a big bowl of honey. Otherwise, put either in the context of a mixed meal, your glycemic response is going to vary. You’re on track with reducing your overall intake of sweeteners. If you’ve already got a light intake, then the type you pick, whether agave, honey, or straight-out table sugar probably won’t make a huge difference. Also, I don’t like lima beans either. :)

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