Food liking is mostly learned. Exposure to foods, seeing your parents, family and friends enjoy food all helps you like the food too. Granted, our genes have some influence on our liking. The strength of some odours we perceive, such as vanilla and the earthiness of beetroot is written in our genes as is our ability to taste bitterness. Plus, we are also born liking sweet tastes and disliking bitter tastes, which is likely due to the evolutionary role these tastes played in human history (needs for calories, and avoidance of poisons).
Over time, we do learn to like some bitter foods, and may not necessary like all sweet foods. Some of these learnings may have taken you some effort (you will know what I mean if you have ever gone from coffee or tea with sugar to ditching the sugar...or remember what your first beer tasted like?)
Liking a new food is easier for kids than it is for us adults. As adults, we have longer established food memories, and we thus have been telling ourselves for longer that a specific food is really yummy, or not to our taste. However, by trying a wider variety of foods and being a bit more experimental in our cooking we can make a difference to food liking at any age.
So, let’s give it a try, let’s go on a journey to explore new [read: not usually chosen in our current diet] foods. And when we add them to our usual diet as parents, our children in turn will see us eat (and more importantly enjoy!) those new foods too. If you are really lucky, they may even go on a taste exploration with you!
One of the foods that I have never gotten close with is beetroot. My mum never liked it and thus never made it for our family when I was growing up. Since then, I have never made a real effort to try it … until now!
I have decided that I am going to give it a go. I am going to eat beetroot, once a week. I am keen to try out different recipes, so if you have any, please share! I will share how I get on with my beetroot challenge! And if you are up for a challenge too, I would love for you to join me on our beetroot challenge – or any other food you choose to give a go! Let’s do this! Let’s enjoy this!