As children, there were probably specific types of food that we just refused to eat. Although different for everyone, these were the foods that we would spread around the plate to make it look like we ate half of them, or that we would refrain from eating altogether. For me, this was usually most green vegetables and any kind of fish. When given the choice we would usually go for anything that was much more processed and sugary, because let’s be honest they just tasted better.
As the years have gone on, I’ve found myself beginning to be less and less picky when it comes to food, even enjoying the vegetables on my plate and opting to voluntarily order fish at restaurants. This had me wondering, can the way we taste food actually change as we get older?
According to a range of recent studies, it’s a combination of both biological as well as environmental factors that make the answer to this question a definite yes. As kids, our senses are already highly alert and this is especially true about our sense of taste. So, when tasting something that doesn’t automatically hit you with a nice, rich flavor it could be considered to be dull or bitter. This bitter taste sets off a warning sign in all humans but particularly kids, in that it could contain potential harmful toxins, so our natural response is to avoid it.
Where the idea of a sweet tooth comes in, is the fact that we usually used up more energy when we were younger and therefore would be attracted to those foods that would supply us with the most energy in the shortest amount of time. Although we know that foods which take a longer time to digest like oatmeal, for example, keep you fuller for longer, as kids we want results fast, so the answer ends up being anything with sugar that we can get our hands on.
Aside from the idea that food may taste different because of physical reasons, it’s also important to note how environmental reasons play a large role. As we become older and start exploring the great big world, our experiences also mature with us. Food is all around us and in our modern day there are so many different options to choose from that it would be hard not to be interested in what you are putting into your body.
That being said, with more information we start being slightly more cautious with our food choices than when we were younger. With age, we also start venturing out and expanding our palates depending on our friends, where we are living, etc. Food becomes more than just filling ourselves up, but also about the experience of discovering new and exciting flavors.