Researchers: Why People Are Picky Eaters

Scientists are seeing a pattern that could explain why people (including your kids) are picky eaters: Heightened sensitivity to texture. 

According to surveys, foods with slimy, gelatinous textures like tomatoes are the least favorite among picky eaters. These eats represent what picky eaters hate most — changes in texture that interrupt a smooth eating experience. However, picky eaters did report enjoying some foods with texture contrasts, like the chocolate crunch of cookie paired with a creamy sugar filling (think Oreo cookies).

Opinions were mixed about spiciness, which is actually considered a texture. The fibers surrounding the taste buds — which belong to the trigeminal nerve — are stimulated by hot sauce and even carbonation. People who don't care for the hot stuff find this stimulation overwhelming and sometimes painful.

Picky eaters may have pronounced survival instincts, when you realize that very slimy foods can indicate spoilage. And fear of trying new foods might be genetically determined, although most people can overcome this aversion by repeated exposure to new foods.

One food that nearly everyone agrees has the perfect texture? Chocolate. "The seductive quality of chocolate is that it melts precisely at human body temperature," Stuckey writes in her book. "It provides a textural experience unlike any other food."