If the thought of gobbling down lots of sprouts or chewing on some rabbit makes you feel queasier than a trip on a rickety rollercoaster, it could be because of your childhood food memories. According to a new survey, these memories have a huge impact on our tastes in later life with almost half (43%) of people questioned across the UK admitting they have not tried the food that gave them their earliest bad flavour memory again. Smell expert, Professor Tim Jacob, from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, said flavour was actually a mixture of two senses – taste and smell – and in many people, these were inherently conservative. “We spend our formative years being fed with things that are sweet and are quite bland,” he said. “Once we have established what foods we need to survive, why change it? We often don’t want to take that risk. “Because of the way our tastes develop, things like olives are an acquired taste but memory and emotion remain closely linked to flavour preferences throughout our lives.” According to Professor Jacob, our childhood palates are not too partial to sour or acidic foods and a taste for salt only develops when we are around six-years-old. “Children’s foods are basically very conservative for biological reasons. But as they grow up it seems some tend to stick with this conservatism even though biologically our tastes change,” he said. “But also our preferences for food seem to stay with us. Babies have a preference for sweet foods.” Professor Jacob’s work at the university involves looking at which sides of the brain are activated by good and bad smells. (From the BBC health page).
So be careful what you feed your children; as a youngster I was brought up on lots of salad and fish based foods (growing up in the Caribbean) and these have indeed become the things that I like the most. Don’t be afraid to try new foods though, you may surprise yourself. Remember also that the main thing with nutrition is to keep it as natural as possible, and to keep it varied while avoiding animal fats and processed foods. Have a look at our free pdf on “nutrition for personal training” on the knowledge page.