By Ashley Allgood
Does your child complain a lot about food tasting too salty, spicy, or just plain gross? Does he complain about the texture of the food? Does she gag when trying new foods? Then it is possible you have a “Supertaster” in your home. In this article, I’ll answer the question of what is a supertaster and give you some personal insight of what it’s like to be an adult picky eater.
What Is A Supertaster
The word “Supertaster” is not something I invented. About 25 percent of the population has more than the usual amount of taste buds. They taste things about three times as strongly as “normal” tasters. Supertasters can have a more sensitive gag reflex too.
When I first heard about Super Tasters I was thankful to find out I was not just a “picky” person. As a child, I was considered very picky. I refused to eat what most normal kids love. I did not like hamburgers, turkey, ham, pizza, spaghetti, vegetables, anything with spices on them, ketchup, mustard, and the list goes on and on. All of my family complained how picky I was and begged me nonstop to just try it. I would try it and gag. I refused to try new things after a while. I pretty much lived off hot dogs and bologna sandwiches. My mother actually used to pay me to eat a little bit of green beans.
I Asked Myself Why Am I a Picky Eater?
I was always the only kid at sleepovers who didn’t like pizza. My friends would gather around an open box of pizza and I’d go off to the kitchen waiting for my hotdog to cook. I was often too embarrassed to go back to join the other girls so I ate by myself in the kitchen. Slumber parties were not the only places I felt left out: school parties, birthday parties, at a friend’s house, my family going out with another family, and so on. Even Thanksgiving was hard for me because I didn’t like ham or turkey.
It’s such a shameful and lonely feeling.
Let me tell you that many times I tried to force myself to eat a slice of pizza; to at least pretend to like it and be normal. So I’d sit with my friends around the open pizza box, I’d feel fear climbing up me as I went to take a bite. I’d chant in my brain “It’s good! It’s yummy!” Then I’d gag and spit it out. Some friends would roll their eyes, other girls looked at me weird, and a few close friends felt sorry for me. I often wanted to cry out of frustration.
Being an Adult Picky Eater
My second date with my husband was to his parents’ house. I didn’t fear meeting them; I feared the lunch that I’d eat with his whole family. After we married we’d go eat at a friend’s house or eat a meal with small groups from church. I’d sit and worry about what we were eating and hated to disappoint a good friend who had cooked all day long. I’d try it and felt horrible when I gagged or couldn’t swallow the food.
By the time I was expecting my first child something happened. I found out I liked pizza! I tried it and didn’t gag. Well, that opened new doors for me and I tried other things that included a pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce. I liked them! I was thrilled that I was somewhat normal. My other two pregnancies had me liking new foods too, such as fried fish and an odd combination of cheese and ranch dressing. (I still can’t stand regular fish.)
As a mother and a Super Taster my heart goes out to kids who are picky.
Every time I see a mom complain about her picky child I try hard to explain that her child might just be a Super Taster. But, I understand it is still frustrating for the parent.
My middle daughter is a supertaster, so I’ve taken her seriously when she says she doesn’t like something. She went through an odd phase of not liking anything made with potatoes except mashed potatoes. That lasted about two years. She also notices milk tastes different from different stores and refuses to drink a certain brand from a certain store. But, I don’t make a big deal about it even though it can be frustrating. My biggest worry was that my attitude towards food was going to turn my kids into picky eaters.
My biggest worry was that my attitude towards food was going to turn my kids into picky eaters.
I have always made a point not to make faces when food is offered to me. I have also made a point to try food. I will say, “I’ll give it a try.” After my second child was born I learned to control the gagging when trying new foods, but if it tastes bad, I can’t swallow it. I just remain calm and say, “No. I don’t like that, but I’m glad I tried it.” Then I walk out of view of my kids and others, then spit it into a napkin.
My Picky Eater Diet And My Kids
They know I’m picky and a Super Taster. But, we have never made it an issue. Neither do we make it an issue when they don’t like certain foods. I thank them for trying the new foods and if they don’t like it, then that is the end of it.
Not all picky eaters are supertasters, however. There could also be other issues causing your child to resist certain foods beyond an overabundance of taste buds. Some children are affected by Sensory Processing Disorder, which makes some food textures problematic. Or there could be other physical issues that cause them to truly not be able to “stomach” certain foods.
My main reason behind writing this is to make parents aware of how it is to be a Super Taster or “picky eater.”
Books and articles are usually written from the parent’s point of view. After reading this I hope you can answer the question of what is a supertaster and that you have some new understanding of how your child feels when it comes to food. Hopefully, over time, your child will learn to enjoy new foods as I have.
Ashley Allgood is a Christian wife married twenty years to Michael. They have three children ages 18, 14, and 13. They live in Georgia where they homeschool their children. Ashley has always loved writing and storytelling. Read her blog at http://mythoughtsoffaith.blogspot.com/.