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Picky eater or genetic predisposition?: A look into the science and psychology behind food aversion




Illustration of a young boy making a face at peas that are arranged like an unhappy face on his plate.
Illustration of a young boy making a face at peas that are arranged like an unhappy face on his plate.
Tim Lee/The News & Observer/MCT Graphics via Getty Images

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Is there a certain food that, no matter how many times you’ve tried to like, makes your stomach churn? Or maybe you just hate the taste for no apparent reason?

There may be a reason behind that distaste. Although it’s difficult to pinpoint one specific cause, food aversion may be the result of a variety of components. Research has shown that humans often dislike bitter and spicy foods. Beyond that, psychological factors also play a role in food aversion. For example, a traumatic or negative experience with a certain food can lead someone to develop an aversion.

So is there a way to get past the distaste and learn to love again? It depends. Frequency of consumption can help, but if a traumatic experience is linked to the food, it may be harder.

Is there a specific food you cannot stand? Is it completely arbitrary or can you think of a reason behind it? Call in and share your experience at 866-893-5722.

Guests:

Soo-Yeun Lee, professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Catherine Forestell, associate professor of psychological sciences at the College of William & Mary; her research focuses on the development and maintenance of food preferences and eating habits from infancy to adulthood