Childhood: Creamy, Fatty, and Fried Foods
A childhood plagued by ear infections can damage the chorda tympani nerve, which sends taste signals from the tongue up through the middle ear to the brain. When taste signals are muffled, the trigeminal nerve (the nerve that carries texture information) sings the praises of creamy, fatty, and fried textures more loudly—making those foods all the more appealing.
Childhood: Anything Your Family Hates
During a child's impressionable early years, watching a sibling or parent recoil after eating stinky cheese or rare meat can have long-term consequences. French researchers have shown that emotions on other people's faces can powerfully impact our own desire to eat particular foods: When looking at images of a disgusted face, study participants had less desire to eat foods they already liked; images of faces showing pleasure made them willing to eat kidneys, blood pudding, and other foods they had previously deemed unappetizing.
Adulthood: Food That Has Made You Sick
Avoiding meat and plants that caused intestinal distress is one way our ancestors survived. But today that survival instinct can doom any fare that coincided with a stomach flu or food poisoning. Researchers have created food aversions in subjects with just one negative exposure. And some aversions can continue indefinitely: The next time you eat something that sparks bad memories, your sympathetic nervous system (which controls your "fight or flight" mechanism) will kick into gear. Your digestion will slow, the food will sit like a brick in your stomach, and you'll redouble your vow never to eat it again.
Adulthood: Pricey Menu Items
You might expect a glass of wine with a high price tag to be more delicious—and that expectation actually makes you enjoy the wine more. Researchers at Caltech and Stanford looked at people's brains as they sipped "$10" and "$90" Cabernets that were actually the same wines. The brain scans showed that when drinking the pricier pour, people experienced more activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (an area that codes for pleasure) than when they sipped the $10 version. Your wallet might balk at overpriced wine, but your taste buds will be pleased.
Adulthood: Old Favorites
Over time many of us begin to lose sensitivity in the smelling department—a sense that accounts for the majority of what we consider flavor. An estimated 50 percent of people between 65 and 80 experience a significant loss of smell as they get older. Consequently, foods you once loved may start to seem bland.
Next: 6 foods you only think you don't like
Printed from Oprah.com on
© 2014 OWN, LLC. All Rights Reserved.