Food Aversion; What Is it?

aking1614 By aking1614, 12th Oct 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Diet & Nutrition

A brief explanation of why some people are literally repulsed by certain foods. This is called food aversion and it is more common than you probably think.

Love Food or Hate It?

Most people that I know have a virtual love affair with food; thus, the rapid rise of obesity in America. But there are some who are totally turned off by food. This is usually associated with certain foods, but those with some types of eating disorders have an aversion to most any food.
There are two types of repulsion to food for us to consider:
Food Aversion
• Conditioned Taste Aversion

Food Aversion

Food Aversion is a psychological repulsion to some foods caused by emotions associated with the food rather than by any chemical properties within the food. Unlike food allergies or food intolerance, if the offending food is unrecognizable, no adverse reaction results. Anorexia nervosa is seen as an extreme form of food aversion.

To give an example of food aversion, let's take a look at this scenario. A young boy is enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and stuffing with his family. During the meal, his parents get into a huge argument and his father storms out, never to return. Now, as an adult, he still cannot stand to eat turkey and stuffing.

At the far end of the spectrum is the anorexic. Perhaps chubby and teased as a child, a young girl begins to associate any and all food with becoming overweight and the pain of the teasing which came along with being overweight. She now shuns all food at the risk of gaining weight and being subjected to ridicule again.

Conditioned Taste Aversion

Conditioned Taste Aversion can occur when eating a substance is followed by illness. For example, if you ate potato salad at a picnic (not MY potato salad, of course) and then became ill, you might avoid potato salad in the future, even if the salad had no relationship to your illness.

Conditioned taste aversions can develop even when there is a long delay between the conditioned stimulus (eating the food) and the unconditioned stimulus (feeling sick). In classical conditioning, conditioned food aversions are examples of single-trial learning. It only takes one bad experience to establish an automatic response.

A classic example of a conditioned taste aversion comes from my own life. As a young girl, I loved beets. So much so, that I challenged the girl next door to a contest to see who could eat the most beets. My mother, knowing that beets are full of iron and good for you, had no qualms about supplying the beets for said contest. I won the challenge, but wound up with a terrible stomach ache (as well as lots of vomiting) from eating way beyond the point of being full. To this day, some 40 years later, even the smell of beets on the restaurant salad bar causes me to gag and become nauseated. Needless to say, I will not allow them in my home.

Look to Your Past

So, if you ever wondered why it is you could never force yourself to eat certain foods, look to your past. There is probably some life-altering event or miserable stomach bug responsible for your food aversion.


Conditioned Taste Aversion, Eating, Eating Disorder, Eating Habits, Food, Food Aversion, Physological

Meet the author

author avatar aking1614
I am an engineer by trade, but a poet and songstress at heart. I started writing occasional articles online about five years ago, but poetry is still my first love.

find me on twitter@ashanpoetry

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author avatar Retired
13th Oct 2010 (#)

Great topic choice and well done.

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author avatar Denise O
17th Oct 2010 (#)

Good article.
To this day, after being sick some years back, I am not able to eat
tomato soup.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Rhiannon
12th Mar 2012 (#)

this helps me a bit, i cannot eat when i am angry or upset and if i do i will punish myself by pinching really hard or jamming my finger.
i dont know why i feel like this though, i am 16 and i have always been a thin girl, but lately i cant find the will to eat and feel sick when i do

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author avatar Madds
30th Aug 2012 (#)

This helped me understand my problem. Ever since I can remember, I've been afraid of the TASTE of certain foods, I don't know why.

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author avatar Rose*
1st Oct 2014 (#)

Over-eating foods does cause you to get sick of them!

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author avatar Bev Moore
22nd Dec 2016 (#)

I have cirrosis of the liver stage 3/4 fatty liver disease. Last night I had home made turkey soup. AN hour later I experience diarrhea THEN my entire body went into muscle spasms - from my neck, arms and legs. Could this be caused by the rich dark turkey meat I ate?

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author avatar Bev Moore
22nd Dec 2016 (#)

Whats food should I avoid with cirrocis of the liver stage 3/ fatty liver, non alcholic, with HP Hypertension? I ate 'turkey' and my body went into complete spasms - from neck to legs - I was freezin,dizzy and had diarrhea

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