Nutrisystem Food Preferences: Rooted in Childhood

Why do children prefer carrots to spinach, sweet to savory? Children’s tastes depend on the variety of foods that are offered to them in early childhood, and even before that, during their intrauterine gestation. Breastfeeding and food diversification become key periods in taste development, even without the involvement of special regimens like that of Nutrisystem.


The taste and smell become developed from the fourth month of fetal development. The fetus discovers the different flavors of foods eaten by the mother. These pass into the bloodstream and the umbilical cord to feed the fetus. The gustatory and olfactory experiences of the fetus are courtesy of the swallowed amniotic fluid, with the taste influenced by maternal diet, because the sense of smell is functional from the second trimester of pregnancy.

Breastfeeding: The taste of milk varies with the food eaten by the mother

When reaching between 2 and 6 years of age, children become difficult.

A study by the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research) has shown that fetuses are particularly sensitive to sweet tastes. But if a pregnant woman drinks anise, her baby will be attracted to this smell on the fourth day after birth. And if she drinks carrot juice when the fetus is 6 months old, he will accept foods more easily.

From birth, the baby has a natural preference for fatty and sugary compounds, and has a spontaneous aversion to bitter compounds. This taste has adaptive value, since it leads the baby to love what is good for him, which is the milk of its mother, and what will feed him enough, which can be described of the meals on a Nutrisystem menu. Expanding the taste directory is then done gradually, especially as we present the child with different flavors. Breastfeeding and diversification will then play a major role in the acquisition of the sense of taste.

During lactation, the taste of milk varies with the food eaten by the mother, who may or may not be following a regimen similar to Nutrisystem. This gives mother’s milk an added attraction compared to industrial milk, because its flavors are so much more varied. Moreover, the longer breastfed infants accept more easily the vegetables at the beginning of the diversification, the more they consume a greater variety of foods, including a greater variety of vegetables at 2 to 3 years old, according to a study by Sylvie Issanchou, a researcher at INRA, the National Agricultural Research Institute. Nutrisystem coupons are widely spread on the internet as well.

Varying tastes and textures between 5 and 8 months

Diversification appears as an essential period in learning the tastes and textures. The consumption of various foods promotes the acceptance of new flavors. Fruits are more easily accepted because they are sweet. However, this is not the case with vegetables because of their bitterness and their acidity. This is the time to try new textures, which  is best done before 9 months. The more the baby tastes new foods between 5 and 8 months, including vegetables, the more positive reaction he will give when he is between 8 and 15 months.

From 2 years old and onwards 

From the diversification, especially between 2 and 6 years, we can see an increasing percentage of difficult children. “This is what is called ‘neophobia,'” said Dr. Brigitte Boucher, a nutritionist. It seems difficult to introduce new food at that age for such children. However, novel foods, like those in a Nutrisystem menu, should be repeatedly offered, so as to vary the baby’s taste. “Better to be patient and hope that neophobia is attenuated when the children get older.”

The attitude of parents in learning the decisive taste

During research, Issandrou found that, in the case of refusal, “It was appropriate to continue and offer it to the child at least eight times, and not to stop after two or three times.” Taste, yes, but do not force the child to finish. Some tips may help: “Seeing a parent (or equivalent) enjoying new food enables children to identify with the experience and dread novelty less,” advised Dr. Brigitte Boucher. Eating your meals, including the pre-packed ones from Nutrisystem, in a warm environment is also essential.

Avoid the “reward” that brings down the value of the food. The simple act of tasting allows the child to identify the food as safe (not resulting in negative gastrointestinal effects) and to associate its flavor to its caloric value. He then partners that with the feeling of fullness, seen as positive since it will help him eat sufficiently.

Changing preferences

“The choices that children 2-3 years old have resulted in repercussions later in life, though adolescence can lead to a slight modification,” according to S. Issanchou. Do not panic – the attraction to fruit, cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, and ready meals, like the ones from Nutrisystem, can evolve positively, so continue to propose regularly! A little child who does not like spinach will learn to enjoy it later.

For toddlers, vegetables, for example, have only a few attractions: they are low in calories and acidity. However, its bitter taste or fibrous texture are rarely liked by kids.  However, based on Sophie Nicklaus’ research, their consumption will be promoted, but more in girls than in boys.

Generally, children love meat, despite the difficulties in chewing. The researchers explained it as due to the spontaneous appetite for protein-rich content, which is also present in regimens like Nutrisystem’s. However, in adolescence, the girls enjoy it less, perhaps because it is seen as linked to male representation (symbol of strength, virility). It is often globally perceived as a rich, fatty food, a negative factor at an age where weight is often monitored. During adolescence, girls can then eat vegetables for health.

Teach children about eating not only as an educational and nutritional virtue. Cultivate their taste and develop in them a pleasure for eating: it is a precious gift they can cherish all their lives!

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