Supertaster: What Dave won’t eat

February 21, 2012 § 8 Comments

Dave is the king of saying that he “can’t” eat something…not “won’t,” but CAN’T.  It’s almost as if he is saying that he has no control over it, and his body refuses entry of the indicated food item.  Dave’s in that very small group of people known as supertasters (yes, it’s a real actual way of being).  It has to do with something strange and different with his tastebuds.  Whatever it is…supertasters find almost everything that the rest of us love, to be bitter-tasting and inedible.  Brussels sprouts…inedible.  Cooked onion…bitter.  Orange juice…bitter.  It’s like the guy has an entire tongue made up of taste buds that only taste bitter.  It’s like his tongue is that teacher in high school who hated you no matter what.  It’s not that supertasters don’t like a particular food, it’s that the taste of a particular food is more intense that it is for other people, so supertasters desire less of it.  Unfortunately, many of the foods that are very healthy are “too intense” for supertasters, and so they really prefer not to consume them.

Here’s the list of stuff Dave says is not on his eating plan:   acorn squash, alcoholic beverages, alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, barley, bean sprouts, bok choy, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carbonated beverages, chocolate, cilantro, citrus, cloves, coffee, collard greens, couscous, dill, ginger, grapefruit, green tea, green vegetables, kale, lemon, liver, mint, molasses, mustard greens, olive oil, olives, paprika, parsley, pickles, sauerkraut, soy, spinach, sweet potatoes, tabouli, vinegar, wine.

Dave says that these foods are annoying, and eating them is like chewing on tinfoil.

Supertasters are “lucky” because they have more tastebuds that the rest of the population.

Cooking around our house is…interesting.  When Dave cooks, we eat either  Dave’s sandwiches, burritos, or sushi….not because that’s all he likes but because he knows that burritos and sushi are error-free; we both like them and there’s a lot of wiggle-room for error.  If I cook…I’m going crazy.  I try to incorporate a lot of vegetables and healthy organic options into our meals, and Dave’s just not into that.  Sure, he loves the idea of “healthy options,” but when it shows up on his plate, he’s not as excited.  Just try cooking with a supertaster in your house.

Many of our recipes use some of the supertaster “banned” ingredients.  Lemon, for instance, is in a lot of our favorite foods.  If I put lemon into the dish while Dave’s watching, he will say that it tastes terrible.  If I leave it out, he’ll say that it’s “missing something.”  The fact is that while his preferences are based on real likes and dislikes, it’s possible to “hide” a flavor (like lemon) inside of something else.  Lemon does seem to brighten a dish, but too much lemon can destroy a dish as well, especially for a supertaster.  We also cook with wine, and use olive oil almost exclusively.  The trick is knowing how much to use, and being careful.

Maybe you have a supertaster in your house.  If so, please share.  Tell the rest of us your strategies for coping.

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§ 8 Responses to Supertaster: What Dave won’t eat

  • viveka says:

    Libby, except for the wine and alcohol – this is what 60% of all men are about. Had chef’s in my bridge that are just like your Dave – and they where chef’s ?????? But if you don’t tell them was in the dish – they eat it. Manage to convert a couple of them to some of their “don’t eats” – but I wasn’t married to them. Try my “orange fish soup” – not one of his “don’t” in it and leave the wine out. Feel for you !!!

    • Libby says:

      Yes, sometimes I think it is psychological…especially because if he doesn’t see me putting lemon into the dish, then he says it is delicious! Maybe it’s a little of both (supertaster and psychological).

      • viveka says:

        Yes … we have always need to be a step smarter then them. As a kid I always claimed I “din’t like” spinach and refused to eat it. Until I ended up on hospital and the day of my operation – those was the days when we where not allowed eat after anesthesia – and they where serving spinach and I couldn’t have any. Eaten it since then and I love it. You’re so right – it’s all upstairs (psychological)!

  • When I was younger, I was very sensitive to flavors. My mom had to even grate onion into sauces, so that I wouldn’t detect them, because biting down on a piece to release the flavor was too much. I had a very defined sweet side and sour side to my tongue. Split right down the middle.Foods would taste absolutely miserable on one side of my mouth but okay on the other. Not sure if I have dulled it down over time or if my taste buds are dying, but I don’t notice it anymore.

    • Libby says:

      Maybe you’re both supertasters (Viveka and Creative Noshing). I’ve been reading that supertasters also seem to have a higher than normal amount of ear infections. Over time, researchers speculate that these ear infections cause a degradation in the taste buds of supertasters,eventually leading to a more average sense of taste. This would explain why things that tasted miserable before are now acceptable.

  • df says:

    I have a supertaster at home who is eight, so I think he’s called a child!

    All joking aside, I do actually think he’s showing signs of what you are describing, which is really interesting. I don’t have any great coping strategies to share, unfortunately, as this kid has a history of us largely accommodating his very limited taste buds (I do have a good excuse for that, really!), though we do balance it out with involving him in baking and cooking and that has helped a little, just a little. And I do hide some super healthy foods in other ones where I can get away with it.

    If he tries something and doesn’t like it, he tends to describe it as ‘spicy’. The other day I accidentally packed plain Greek yogurt in his lunch instead of his usual vanilla. He complained that the yogurt had gone ‘off’ and tasted ‘spicy’. When I realized my mistake I just smiled to myself – it suddenly made sense.

    • Libby says:

      Dave likes spicy, but he too comments all the time about something tasting “off.” I do think that eventually it wears off after time, unfortunately because the taste buds become destroyed. It’s not that supertasters dislike a particular food…it’s rather that it is too intense. PS…Dave isn’t a big fan of Greek yogurt, either, but I love it.

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