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Chelsea News: Placating Picky Palates

From Chelsea News: Picky eaters come in several varieties for several reasons. Some avoid specific foods that give them hives. Others just don’t like the taste or texture of what’s on the plate. Vegetarians and vegans will avoid meat a a matter of principle. And then there’s the cultural thing. Around the world, billions of people nosh on fried insects, something hard for Westerners to swallow although we enjoy what they call spoiled milk: cottage cheese to you. So long as the list of what not to eat stays limited, no problem. But if not liking one food morphs into not liking lots of foods, there’s a name for that: Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). Unlike anorexia, the eating disorder commonly driven by body dysmorphism (an unrealistic view of one’s shape and size) plus an unreasonable fear of weight gain, ARFID may result from just one unpleasant moment like serious gastric upset after downing the food or being forced as a child to eat something you definitely didn’t want. Those aside, the fact is everybody has at least one dish they truly loathe. Search the Net for “foods everyone hates,” and up pop numerous lists, some counting all the way up to 100. Green stuff, primarily broccoli, makes practically every list as does liver which fails the texture test (too mushy) and also makes some people queasy when they realize they’re eating offal, the internal organs usually tossed out. In the one household where Mom served broccoli wrapped in liver, guess what the grown-up kids still won’t eat. Happily, while food aversions may begin in childhood, they do not always last lifelong. To prove the point, Paul Rozin, professor emeritus in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, cites the chili pepper. Infants and young children (usually) don’t like spicy food, and even older people who try it for the first time don’t always enjoy it. So how come chili and curry are so popular? Rozin calls it “benign masochism,” the act of enjoying a negative experience such as a roller coaster ride under controlled circumstances where they do not pose a threat of real harm. Read the full story in Chelsea News.

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