This is a fun article for lots of reasons on why we like certain textures and flavors. The amount of amylase (which breaks down starches) in saliva effects our experience of texture as well as the speed of starch absorption. It might provide another factor for why people prefer certain textures. These few lines were heartening…
“And repetition sometimes can win out: Many people initially don’t like oysters because of their slimy texture, for instance, but can come to enjoy them after several tries.” (Sorry, I am not going to eat oysters… Won’t even try ’em. Am I a hypocrite?)
“But people’s saliva-flow rate tends to slow with age, which might affect their ability to break down starch in the mouth and reduce sensations of sliminess.” The point of this is the notion of childrens’ tastes maturing over time. Perhaps as saliva flow changes, foods they rejected as toddlers may actually feel different and better after repeated exposures over time.
and my favorite:
“That genetic preference can be changed by repeatedly exposing the individual to the taste or by masking the bitterness, even at an early age, she has found. In a preliminary study with preschoolers, Dr. Duffy’s group added a sweet taste to balance out the bitterness of certain vegetables—less than half a teaspoon of sugar to a cup of broccoli or asparagus, for example, during cooking—and found that the children were more accepting of the greens. Even when the sweetness was removed, the children still liked the vegetables more than before because they had developed a positive association with them, she says. “It suggests that people should focus on what they like to eat and make it work for them,” Dr. Duffy says.” Makes me want to sing ala Mary Poppins, “A spoon full of sugar makes the broccoli go down! The broccoli go down! The broccoli go down!”
What do you think? After hearing so much recently about sensory integration issues, this is another possible piece of the puzzle. Nice thing is that repeated neutral exposures, perhaps with a little sugar over time, without pressure is helpful either way. Remember the importance of structure with eating too!
Won’t be long now until some drug company coins the term “amylase deficiency” and is pushing pills for picky eating! What would you pay for a pill to cure your picky eater problems
FYI, I’ll be out of town for my last of too many trips in the last 6 months. Will be checking in over the weekend, but back at it on Tuesday the 16th.