Texture or Taste?

You ever wonder what makes people love certain foods while others hate that same item? Naturally, you might assume it’s all about taste. What tastes good to one person might taste terrible to another. But what if there is something else at play here? Consider texture and how food feels in the mouth. Sometimes this is referred to as mouthfeel.

Texture plays a huge role in how we consume food. For example, some people prepare their pasta el dente while others prefer it softer. Many people like to munch on raw broccoli and some will only eat their broccoli cooked.

Kids are often all about texture. Parents never clue in about this and thus label their little one picky eaters. Similarly as people age, anatomy changes or illness compromises swallowing. What was once easy to eat becomes a challenge. To help them, it could be as simple as changing the texture of the foods they eat.

Likes and dislikes can easily be attributed to texture. Many people hate fish. If you probe them you will find out it has to do with how the fish feels in their mouth. I have seen the same thing with nut butters, pickles, quinoa and even mustard. One client insists that mustard feels like tiny little sand pieces in his mouth. Some people describe milk as slimy. Interesting choice of words, which once again points to a texture issue.

As a dietitian, there is nothing I can really do to help someone “like” a texture. Simply recognizing this is often very helpful for the person. When a parent understands that their child is adverse to a food because of the texture, perhaps they can serve the same food prepared or cooked differently. For seniors, offering soft foods more often could do the trick. It’s important for seniors to meet their nutrient and caloric needs. It’s also important to make sure they are safe when they are eating so they don’t choke or aspirate which could lead to pneumonia.

You see eating is not just about flavour. There are so many other factors we need to consider when enjoying a delicious meal.

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