Super(non)taster

The good news is that dinners at the table continue to go swimmingly. I’ve been “forgetting” about the star charts for ages now, and everyone still shows up in their seat at 6.00. Thanks to the light in the kitchen going kablooey and needing a call to the electrician to replace, we’re even eating in the dining room, which adds to the formality of the occasion and makes it more of A Thing. Which is nice.

The bad news is that Dash has taken agin his peanut-butter sandwiches somewhat, in the last couple of days.

If you’re new around here, you won’t know about Dash and his food issues. He has Food Issues. He takes picky eater to new heights. Which is really what I want to talk about, but let me preface it by asking you not to send me to Ellyn Satter or It’s not about nutrition or any of those other great resources out there for helping you get your child to eat. Chances are I’ve already seen it. I’m also over and done with blaming myself for starting him out the wrong way by giving him solids too early or too late or too mushy or too whole or too much grains or too much fruit or all the other things you might suspect. It’s not my fault. It’s the way he’s built. (I know this because my second child is a perfectly normal picky eater and I did much the same with her.)

Anyway, with that said, I will skip over all of Before and get us to Now. If you want to read about Before, search for posts tagged “Eating.”

A while ago someone told me about supertasters and I got all excited, because I thought maybe Dash was one, and that that would explain everything. Supertasters basically taste at a higher level than the rest of us, so regular tastes seem far too strong for them. It’s not a medical diagnosis or anything, but I thought it would be nice to have a label for him that would help other people get that we’re not just letting him eat ice cream all day because he doesn’t like his veggies. (We’re not.)

Then I reconsidered, because when he tastes pasta he spits it out and complains that it’s “too plain.” I didn’t see how I could reconcile that with being a supertaster. First things are too strong, then they’re too bland. Was he just being stubborn for the sake of it? Because he really wanted to subsist on nothing but peanut-butter sandwiches for ever?

Then I heard from someone whose son is a grownup supertaster that he said bland foods can also taste terrible, just in a different way. She said he would never eat rice or pasta. BINGO! I thought. I read some more about it today and a lot of things rang bells: not liking carbonated drinks, finding orange juice horribly bitter, running a mile from broccoli and kale… (okay, so he’s not the only child to do that). There was a test you can do with food colouring and a hole punched in a piece of paper. You’re meant to count how many little bumps on the tongue you can see through the hole. If you have 35 or more, you’re a supertaster.

I borrowed a tiny vial of blue food colouring and we were quite excited to do the experiment. I wasn’t quite sure about Dash’s result, so I did it on myself as well. By my count, we both come out as “non-tasters”, he slightly moreso than I. But I couldn’t see how anyone could possibly fit 35 or more papillae in that tiny space. And since I’m pretty confident that I taste quite well, thank you, I wonder if we did it wrong. (B has offered himself as a third guinea pig. I will let you know how that turns out.)

So maybe that theory has been exploded too. It was nice while it lasted. Apart from the general coolness factor of being a super-anything, it would have explained a lot that I find it hard to explain to people otherwise.

I suppose he’s still super-picky, but that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

That one time he almost tasted some pizza.

That one time he almost tasted some pizza.

8 thoughts on “Super(non)taster

  1. Miranda

    I’m glad you said you don’t blame yourself anymore, because you certainly shouldn’t. Any kid who won’t eat pizza clearly has way more going on than can be laid at the feet of his mother!

    Reply
  2. Lisa | Mama.ie

    If it’s any consolation my super-picky brother grew into his tastes and now as an adult eats almost anything. Though that being said I’m not sure he ever rejected pizza.

    Reply
  3. Alyssa

    There’s actually a strip of paper that can be used to test for this — I can’t remember for the life of me what it’s called, but it looks very similar to a PH strip tester. Anyway, it has a certain taste to it, and if it practically makes you gag or leaves a bitter aftertaste for a long time, then you’re a super-taster. I’m one, actually! If you can’t taste it, then you’re the opposite, but most people land in the middle (they can taste it, but it doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste).

    Reply
    1. Maud Post author

      I had read about that too; there’s also a Nutrasweet test, because supertasters find it very bitter, apparently. But I had the food colouring (almost) to hand, so it was easiest. And from what I’ve read, they’re all equally a little “handwavy” and it’s not an official “diagnosis” anyway,…

      Reply
  4. Sara

    My eldest is funny with textures. We just found what she liked and went with it, too much stress trying to make them eat stuff they don’t like.. Once they’re eating something it’s all that matters, she’s coming around to trying stuff a bit now 🙂

    Reply
  5. Thrift Store Mama

    I’m happy to hear that your dinners at the table is working well – that’s my new family project that I will start after my next round of travel finishes. I can’t remember what it was like in the early years, but it seems like at least for the past few years, you haven’t made dinner a battleground which is wonderful.

    Picky-ness issues have reared their ugly head in my house again. I have walked out of the kitchen in the middle of dinner more times than I can count recently – problem is that in my house it’s not only the kids. 🙁 I really just need to stop caring and stop cooking for them and just cook for myself!

    Reply
  6. tric

    I was an incredibly picky eater and now as an adult I eat anything and everything! My third child is also very very picky. Until lately. She is now 16, and recently was working in a restaurant. At lunch times she asked for soup but they refused to give it to her and insisted she eat a proper meal. She tried to ask for nuggets, but that was refused, so she had to eat outside of anything she would like. And hey presto she now eats curry, satay and pasta with a tomato based sauce!
    Maybe it was good timing but I think there is a lot to be said for peer pressure.
    I’m sure in time your little one will grow up with a normal range of food preferences. My mantra is “as long as their healthy and not over or underweight, who cares”.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *