It can come as a surprise to some that food aversions can be common not only in young children but also in adults. Many people develop aversions to certain foods at some stage in their life and never overcome them, which can be difficult as an adult when other adults are less than understanding about what they consider fussy eating.
As an adult with food aversions, the main disadvantage is usually a social one, as it can make dining out and with friends more complicated, but if you are happy to put up with this, there is no problem with avoiding certain foods.
Many people do find this embarrassing as adults though, and tend to say they are allergic to a certain food when really it is just a case of disliking it. Aversions to multiple key foods, or whole foods groups, such as dairy, however, can be more serious detrimental to health as you may miss out on key nutrients.
5 Ways to Overcome Food Aversions
Physiologists believe that in most cases food aversions can be worked through and overcome with a little work and perseverance, so if you feel like your aversion is affecting your health or is an inconvenience in your everyday life, here are some ways to overcome the aversion.
1. Think about why you don’t like the food
Many people avoid a food all through their lives without really thinking about why they don’t like it. Perhaps they had a bad experience with the food as a child, or were ill after eating it on one occasion, or maybe it is an aversion passed down from family members.
Thinking about why you avoid a certain food can help you realize whether or not you have a reason for avoiding it and whether this reason is still valid.
For example, if you are avoiding a food because it made you sick once many years ago, it may be worth trying it again as the association between illness and the food may be easily overcome with one good experience.
2. Keep trying the food
When toddlers refuse a food, experts suggest that parents continue to offer it up to 20 times. By this stage, most children will accept the food; it is simply a case of adapting the taste buds to a new flavor.
The same principle can work for adults. If you do not like a food, don’t give up trying it forever. Keep on trying it when the opportunity presents itself, and you may find that eventually you grow to enjoy it.
This happens commonly with coffee, which is often seen as unpalatable on the first taste, but is easily adapted to when tried many times.
3. Change the texture
Sometimes it is not the flavor of the food that is offensive, but the texture. This is commonly the case with foods such as mushrooms, which are considered slimy when cooked, or with egg white, which may had an undesirable texture if not cooked completely.
Sometimes simply trying a food in a different form can be enough to overcome the aversion, for example eating raw mushrooms instead of cooked or hard boiling an egg.
4. Cook it in a different way
If you have an aversion to a food cooked in a certain way, a different cooking method may be enough to help you move past the aversion. This can be related to the different textures that are achieved with different cooking methods but also the different flavors that can be added.
A simple ingredient that is often disliked such as tofu, for example, has a completely different taste when deep fried compared to when it is steamed and it will take on the flavor of the ingredients it is cooked with, so there are endless different combinations or flavors that may make it more palatable.
5. Be open to new foods
It is quite common for people with a food aversion to be unadventurous when it comes to new foods. In fact they may even have an aversion to a food they have never tried due to the way it looks, the cooking method, smell or even where the food comes from.
In these cases, the battle is more of a mental one, as many people who overcome this first initial reaction and actually try the food find that they can stomach it and may actually enjoy it.
Food aversions with illness or pregnancy
New food aversions are often experienced during pregnancy, diseases such as cancer, or even the treatment of cancer, which can affect sense of taste and smell. These types of aversions are generally harder to overcome, but may only be short lived as they may disappear after the pregnancy or illness.
In most cases there is no need to overcome such aversions, unless multiple aversions or aversions to key foods are present as this may mean that it is difficult to reach nutritional adequacy. If this is the case, professional help should be sought to find appropriate alternatives to the food or for supplementation advice.