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I think we have a non-taster here!

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Immy eats pretty much everything. She definitely has preferences (vegies over meat) and favourites (mandarins and frozen berries currently top the list) and is a typical toddler in that she changes her mind one day to the next and wont eat much if she is overtired. She is however happy to eat brussel sprouts, asparagus, all types of beans, legumes and lentils, cumquats (which I just think just taste sour), and she has even been known to munch on a raw lemon on occasion.

I remember seeing an episode of the wonderful BBC program, Child of our Time, in which they tested the children to see what types of ‘tasters’ they were. They gave the children a range of strong flavoured foods and gauged from their reactions which of the three categories they most likely represented: non-tasters, medium or normal tasters, or supertasters. I find this notion of types of ‘tasters’ fascinating; that scientists have found a correlation between the number of taste buds on your tongue and the intensity with which you perceive tastes makes perfect sense but wasn’t something I had really thought about before, especially as it relates to children.

I would have to think that Immy falls into the ‘non-taster’ group as she certainly gives anything a go and is more than happy to eat olives and spinach and brussels, three of the foods that can be problematic for supertasters. I imagine she has inherited this trait from DH who also hoovers food of every kind. I however fall into the normal taster category, very boring!

From the BBC: Normal tasters

  • Like a large variety of foods but care about how their food is prepared
  • Have an average number of papillae, the tiny bumps on the tongue that contain taste buds
  • Around 50% of people are said to be normal tasters

Non-tasters

  • Perceive all tastes as less intense than other taster types. They are particularly insensitive to bitter tastes
  • Are happy with most foods, irrespective of the type of food or its preparation
  • Have few papillae, the tiny bumps on the tongue that contain taste buds
  • Around 25% of people are said to be non-tasters

Supertasters

  • Perceive all tastes as more intense than other taster types, particularly bitter tastes
  • Tend to be fussy about their food and have strong food likes and dislikes
  • Usually don’t like coffee, grapefruit, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and spinach
  • Have lots of papillae, the tiny bumps on the tongue that contain taste buds
  • Around 25% of people are said to be supertasters

Interested in testing your own tastebuds? Here is a simple experiment from the BBC to try.

What are your thoughts? What sort of taster are you most likely to be? What about your children? Could this go some of the way to explaining our children’s eating preferences?

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Comments

  1. It would be particularly interesting to see if there is a correlation between the kind of "taster" and his culture. I live in the Middle East, and many of my students enjoy raw dates, which are so bitter that I can't stand to eat them!

  2. Well I hate brussell sprouts and asparagus, but love anchovies and olives, don't really like real coffee both because of the taste and what it also does to my stomach (gives me reflux), can't stand wine or beer as both are so bitter to me no matter how expensive the wine.

    I also tend to agree with Lauren and wonder if it is how and when food is introduced to children that makes a difference as well.

    My tastes influenced what I feed to my children – they never ever had brussell sprouts or asparagus and not a lot of peas either as my hubby doesn't like them. But I always encouraged them to try most other foods at least once.

  3. Oh and as an aside – I ate lemons as a child and still occasionally eat them now as an adult.

  4. I certainly also remember how kakka would sprinkle salt on her hands and eat it over a number of years. It used to horrify me but there was no stopping her from doing it. I often wondered if it was because I don't like salt (even on my skin after swimming) so perhaps she needed it as a child having been denied it before her birth.
    We didn't have vegies like brussel sprouts back in the 1950s so my children didn't get to taste them. I love them if they are cooked properly but then there is no food I don't like and can now even eat olives and walnuts after many years of not liking them at all. Not sure what all this says but just added it for what it is worth.

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