Why don't I like to eat

"Were you breastfed?"

SZ-Magazin: I don't like mushrooms, no fish, generally nothing that comes out of the water, no carrots, no rocket, no gorgonzola, no pot noodles, no lamb, no plums, no couscous, no tarte flambée, no cabbage, except red cabbage , no scrambled eggs. I find coriander and olives particularly disgusting. I could list a lot more. Is it normal not to like so many foods?

Thomas Ellrott: I don't know of any empirical research on this. But I would say: there are quite a lot of people who do not eat a lot.

And why is that? Why doesn't everyone eat everything?
First of all, it can always be the case that you cannot tolerate a certain food. It's just that it's hard to research. There are hundreds, thousands of different substances in every food, including natural foods, not just industrially produced ones. And if you cannot tolerate one of these many substances, this does not necessarily manifest itself in nausea or dizziness, but perhaps only in a vague malaise - which your body remembers well.

Many people already value gluten-free food - even though they actually have an appetite for bread and pasta.
Of course, there are those who have actually been shown to be gluten intolerant. Many, however, do without such foods, although no diagnosis has been made. This is more due to the great social trend towards individuality and self-presentation through nutrition. There are far more perceived intolerances than real ones. In your case, celiac disease is not the cause anyway, because you named too many different food categories for that. Another reason for dislike can be that you have eaten a food in a negative situation. An example: children who were served their favorite food during chemotherapy later no longer liked this food. But you will hardly have had so many negative experiences.

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In rare cases, the food can also be the direct cause of complaints: We eat something that has gone bad and then we feel bad. I myself have been avoiding meat salad since I spent a terrible night in a Carinthian hotel with spoiled meat salad at the age of fourteen. There was also a thunderstorm. But this cause is only possible for individual foods. Have you been breastfed?

Then that is no longer necessary. To be breastfed is a favorable prerequisite for later eating a variety of foods. In fact, it is important how the mother feeds herself during pregnancy. There are experiments with aniseed: one group of pregnant women consumed a lot of aniseed, another group none. After weaning, all babies were given milk with aniseed spice. The first group drank it willingly, the second refused the milk. However, I consider the learning processes that start after weaning to be even more important: Do the parents eat differently? Children orientate themselves strongly to role models. Or: are several children sitting at the table?

I have a brother.
Well, maybe we have the point. Children see food as an opportunity to set themselves apart from one another. And they get attention when they talk about food.

Can't it be that you don't like certain things? Just for the fun of it?
There is neophobia, the fear of the new: only eat what you know, then nothing will happen to you. So you can only like what you've tried. And I like passion fruit juice more if I've tried similar orange juice before. This safety program makes sense in terms of evolutionary biology.

Which foods do Germans like least?
How do you want to measure that? Caviar is only consumed in small quantities, but is that unpopular? How are you going to compare cauliflower to flour? In any case, the Germans are broadly positioned. There are so many different foods to be found in supermarkets. That means these foods are bought and that means they are eaten. What is definitely unpopular is what is far from our usual food culture.

But I did try fried grasshopper once. Not bad.
You can force yourself to do it. But usually the neophobia wins.

Why is sweet rather popular and bitter rather unpopular?
A sweet taste promises calories, i.e. vital energy. In times of hunger and shortage, this was a great survival advantage. In addition, sweet is practically never poisonous - in contrast to bitter.

Why doesn't the body cry out primarily for vitamins and minerals?
Because calories have always been the scarcest commodity. There was never a time when potassium, for example, was crucial to whether you survived. Vegetables are high in potassium.

But an excess of calories is unhealthy. That's stupid of the body.
The body has learned the opposite for many tens of thousands of years. One or two generations with changed living conditions cannot simply overwrite this legacy in our genes. The question is also whether there is intelligent hunger. In the case of an acute lack of carbohydrates, for example, it can lead to hunger pangs, endurance athletes know that. Then performance collapses and you get a strong hunger for short-chain carbohydrates. So for sugar.

Why am I almost never in the mood for ham, but on some days I do it very much? Is there any deficiency in my body then?
I don't think so, we already consume plenty of different nutrients with our everyday food. I think more about the fact that scarcity is at work here: What you haven't eaten for a long time, you look forward to in particular.

I never fancy fish, and I think that's a shame, also because fish is considered so healthy. How can you re-educate yourself there?
Eat fish every now and then - in small portions; as an addition to something you like; and in positive situations, maybe at the end of a particularly nice day of vacation. It's also best not so that you can see the whole fish if you're a little disgusted with it. I didn't like raisins in the past, but now I've learned to eat them. It just can't be too many. But the older you get, the less complicated your eating habits usually become, simply because you get to know more and more foods.

And how do you get your kids not to become picky eaters? Should you pretend to like everything?
That depends on your acting skills. But you would probably be seen through. Children notice exactly when their parents do something other than what they say.

Should one say: "What is on the table is eaten"?
That comes from times when there was little. Today the general conditions are completely different. A compulsion to eat is counterproductive.

"Give it a try, it's healthy"?
This argument is harmful 99 percent of the time. It could only be of use if the children had learned: If the word healthy is used, it always tastes great. In reality, however, it is the other way around, and they associate healthy with coercion, paternalism and bad taste. The best thing to do is simply to say: "It tastes really delicious." Or: "This is not for children, only for adults!"

Illustrations: Rutu Modan