Foods We Love to Hate: Knowing Why
Why do we hate certain foods?
Have you ever considered what foods you hate and why you hate them? There may be more to it than finicky tastebuds.
This is part one in a series of articles about food dislikes.
Uh, that doesn't taste very good...
Love-Hate relationship with food
I was laughing so hard I could barely start writing this article. People’s replies were stated so emphatically and incredibly humorous as they recounted their stories anyone would have laughed themselves off their chair. Usually, research can get a bit tedious. Sifting through over three hundred comments in articles about food dislikes and extreme aversions really got me thinking. I was laughing loud enough for my husband to hear me clear across the house. Why do people have a love-hate relationship with certain foods?
As I was growing up I’d hear other kids talk about foods they hated, nodding my head in agreement, echoing their familiar unpleasant sound effects. Just like them, I certainly had my own dislikes or aversions from time to time. I’d hear the same foods repeatedly mentioned as making people sick enough to hurl (throw up). Why?
That doesn’t taste as good as I thought it would: ewww, messy!
Childhood experience is high on the list as the main reason of disliked foods.
There are both funny and disturbing anecdotes about food aversions rooted in childhood. Many often relate older siblings doing stupid things with food to the younger children. One story is that of two older sisters restraining the youngest and dumping huge amounts of condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard all over her and shoved up into her airways. Decades later the sight or smell of condiments set off a gag reflex for the adult to this day. There are a lot of those condiment stories in America.
Some food aversions come from the monotony of repeatedly eating the same food day after day and meal after meal on the same day. This is often related from people who grew up in unusually large families of 10 – 15 children.
Economic circumstances and the logistics of feeding so many people for three meals a day dictated the cooking was done as large one pot meals. In those cases, when the pots went empty is when a new food was cooked. There wasn’t anything wrong with the particular food, texture or cooking style. The issue was a saturation of taste, smell and monotony.
It could also have been an issue with less energy in the food every time it was reheated. Fresh food has the most energy. Food loses its energy when cooked and reheated. Meat should not be reheated more than twice. If any leftovers after twice reheating, throw it out as it could sicken you.
Eating what is not food
Sometimes, children explore their environment and start eating things on their own that are better left alone. The traditional childhood foible is eating something they should not have and in great quantity. One adult cannot go into breakfast restaurants without a negative reaction. As a child she ate an entire box of maple sugar candies and was ill for three days. Breakfast restaurants in her part of the country are known for their maple syrup and the minute she enters the door the whiff of maple smells sets off her gag reflex and resulting food aversion.
In childhood my best friend across the street and the same age was dining on cigarette butts leftover in her mother’s ashtray. She went to the doctor and he really wondered about the need for charcoal in her system at the time. Sadly, in her twenties, she developed MS (multiple sclerosis).
Apparently, my favorite as a three-year-old was to chomp on poisonous mothballs like they were candy since they smelled and tasted sweet to me. Never did have any ill effects and the doctor was quite surprised. He scratched his head and sent my mother and me home, declaring me a kid with a successful guardian angel because he was hard-pressed for an explanation as to why I was completely normal.
With toxic residue like that deposited in small amounts throughout your system it does make a person wonder if it affects how you perceive or even crave certain foods. Wonder no further, I do have a new chocolate blog: Romancing The Chocolate! I hear chocolate has great health benefits. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
From the folks at Amazon.com!
Now that tastes bad!
Forced to eat
Eat everything on your plate or you can’t leave the table until you do!
One really bad collective memory for adults is all those well-meaning parents who forced their children to eat all on their plate. They ended up traumatizing their children because they were primarily concerned about malnutrition.
Ignoring the child’s protestations as childish tantrums was the usual response. The reality became obvious when the child threw it up. Those protests were actually warnings that a particular food did not bode well with their metabolism.
This can be a real judgment call as some kids just enjoy being difficult and others have true issues. Knowing your child well is important. A clue could be all the other foods on their plate are eaten but not the offending one.
Bullying at religious schools
Religious day or boarding schools are a point of contention as an unpleasant cafeteria memory whether Protestant or Catholic. There are also many a collective memory of experiences where children have been loudly forced to eat all on their plate and publicly humiliated until they complied with the adult’s demands.
It isn’t any wonder why those foods brought back bad memories of bullying and a feeling of helplessness and vulnerability rather than the feeling of well-being food is supposed to provide us.
As a precocious practical kid who went to an American religious boarding school in Chinese Taiwan, I quickly figured out to befriend the Chinese cooks and ask what was really good and what to pass on. Even they thought some of what they were ordered to cook and the manner of cooking it to be unappetizing. I always enjoyed the days when those cooks were allowed to cook their food their way as it was fabulous! Chinese food in America just isn’t very authentic as it’s been manipulated to feed the American taste for extra oil, sugar, huge portions and less fresh food.
Don’t make me eat that! You will regret it!
Food Aversions can develop as an adult
Working at an ice cream store
Often food aversions come as an adult who has worked at a food establishment like an ice cream store. How many times have you heard about how ice cream stores allow their employees to eat all they want? It sounds like they died and went to heaven! Yet, within a few weeks those same employees have sworn off ice cream and most sweets as they are saturated with the sweet taste. That food aversion often lasts for years.
Working at a restaurant
Working at a restaurant often develops food aversions when becoming saturated with the cooking smells. After waitressing for several years at a breakfast chain an employee could no longer tolerate the smell of cooking eggs. For anyone who has never worked at a restaurant know that the cooking oils and smells get into your clothes, your hair and into your sinuses and takes days to dissipate. They are not obvious until you leave the restaurant. Then you gag on the scent as it is suddenly so strong once you enter the fresh air. People who work in smoking bars complain of the same problem.
What are your food dislikes and aversions? Do you know why?
Childhood experiences are often the main reason for food dislikes. Even adult experiences can color our perception and enjoyment of food. Can you trace your current food dislikes or aversions to a particular time in your life? What is your love-hate relationship with food? Comments are welcome!
Part two in this series of articles will be Foods We Love to Hate: Unpopular Foods.
*** Food Blogs by Denny Lyon
*** Photo Credits
Gargoyle Photo by kamshots @ flickr - Uh, that doesn’t taste very good.
Child Photo by slopjop @ flickr – That doesn’t taste as good as I thought it would: ewww, messy!
Gargoyle Photo by Vin Crosbie @ flickr – Now that tastes bad!
Gargoyle Photo by post406 @ flickr – Don’t make me eat that! You will regret it!
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