Biological Reasons for Why Children Hate Vegetables
It seems to be a pandemic, every generation of parents have frustrated themselves to no avail, as many children just do not like vegetables. My son would never eat vegetables. I tried everything I could to get him to eat them and he just wouldn’t budge.
In those days which was over 30 years ago, I could get away with threatening a beating, which or course I did not follow through with. I also threatened that he would not get dessert, no TV, and to early bed. These threats I did follow through with but my son would not budge, he just would not eat vegetables.
I read all the books I tried all the suggestions, the most recent theory at the time was to gradually introduce the vegetables giving the child just a taste. I followed through. I gave my son just a few mushrooms on his plate and I said he just had to eat one. That way he had a bit of pride left to him, he did not have to eat a whole plate of them he just had to try one. He absolutely refused to even try it. He told me nobody in the world could make him eat what he did not want to eat. He would gladly take the punishment over eating vegetables any day.
The psychological trauma this child went through hit me in the face at meet the teacher night when the teacher was showing the parents their children’s artwork on the wall, (my son was six and in the first grade). When it came to my child’s picture, he had drawn a mushroom and the caption read (provided by the teacher) I hate mushrooms. I was so distraught that I never tried to force my son to eat vegetables again.
So why do children have an aversion to vegetables anyhow?
It is estimated that about eighty percent of chldren do not like vegetables. Some psychologists and nutritionists claim it is because they have not acquired the taste. Parents have poor eating habits and pass it on to the children. Generally parents who do not eat vegetables have children who do not eat vegetables. This may be true in some cases but not in all. I eat vegetables. I love vegetables but my son did not, and I tried to give him that acquired taste. It didn’t work. This theory falls short of a full explanation for why children hate vegetables.
A better explanation can be found in biological studies. Children have an aversion to bitter tastes. They much prefer sweet tastes over bitter tastes. According to the research team at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, new research is showing that there is a gene, TAS2R38, which may be responsible for this aversion. Sensitivity to bitter tastes will vary depending upon the gene variants.
In the study, only the children seemed to have an aversion to bitter tastes while their mothers who were also studied seemed to have tastes, which have developed through cultural and ethnic cuisine. The study found that generally, children tend to grow out of the aversion for bitter taste and their hatred for vegetables.
Is that all there is, just an explanation that children are genetically prone to dislike vegetables and they will grow out of in time?
It is all in the taste buds
In 2009 many Montrealers, tuned into to their Sympatico and Videotron. Digital TV as well as the local CTV channel to get the latest on Dr. Oz who addressed the issue of why children hate vegetables. He added some new insight on the issue.
Children are born with over 10,000 taste buds and as time goes by these taste buds diminish. The average adult has about 3,000 tastes buds. What this means is that children will have more robust taste buds. The flavours of vegetables and other foods will be stronger than the flavours that adults taste. Thus accounting for the fact that they don’t like the bitter taste of vegetables. Over time these taste buds diminish and since the flavours are not so strong, these kids who are now grown up can now eat vegetables and actually enjoy them.