How many tastes are needed to like a new food?
Experts say at least ten times!
It varies for everyone, and there will be some foods we might not ever like (like coconut for me). I encourage people to try food prepared or presented in many different ways. For example, steamed broccoli tastes much different compared to roasted broccoli with garlic powder, broccoli with cheese, or veggie pizza with raw broccoli on it. Dips, cheese, ketchup, or Ranch dressing make a great ‘vehicle’ to build up the courage to try a food or can represent ‘training wheels.’ Sometimes finding one enjoyable way to eat a food, over time, leads to liking that food in other ways that were previously disliked. For example, I recall not liking fresh tomatoes on a sandwich or salad until after I had them grilled and seasoned with other vegetables. Now I can eat tomatoes in any form.
Keep in mind that taste preferences change over time, as well.
As we get older, we develop a preference for more bitter tasting vegetables. I encourage all people, adults, and children alike, to be open and willing to try new food (or a familiar food cooked in a new way). Let your family members know that it’s okay to try a tiny bite or spit food out in a napkin. Encourage table manners, “don’t yuck my yum” and say, “No, thank you” if you don’t like it or not ready to try the new food. It’s also important that adults not make negative comments regarding preference for a particular food since they greatly influence others in the house.
Continue to expose your family to fruits and vegetables without pressuring anyone to eat.
Serving meals ‘Family Style’ so everyone has a choice from what is on the table and can decide what to put on their plate, helps most in this process. When there is a fruit or vegetable (or both) at almost every eating opportunity, everyone becomes more comfortable and familiar with these ‘hard to like’ foods. Stay calm and patient and allow taste buds to adapt. How might you serve a disliked food differently?