I just read an article about a man who has eaten nothing but pizza for about twenty-five years.
Now, I love pizza, and I went through the requisite period of time when eating cold pizza for breakfast was considered a time-honored tradition. But the man named Dan Janssen has changed the field in that regard. He has completely raised the bar in terms of eating pizza.
Dan claims to hate almost all other food choices but plain cheese pizza. He resists when he is presented with a lovely pizza that has peppers, onions, or tomatoes on it. He believes it ruins the pizza experience for him.
While a veggie-laden pizza might seem like a nice compromise between pure junk food and something approaching the redeeming qualities of healthy eating, Janssen’s objects open up the question to food revulsion and what causes it.
A study through Pennsylvania University evaluated 500 people and their opinion about raw tomatoes or white foods in general. Most of the people in the study had no idea why they had a food revulsion, but did determine that it likely started when they were children.
There is the “supertaster” who tastes everything at a level much higher than the normal person, making them oversensitive to particular flavors like bitter things or spicy things. Generally speaking, kids are more neophobic to foods, that is less accepting to new tastes or flavors. This works against our innate ability to garner nutrition from a wide variety of food sources.
Most people have a food revulsion as a result from having become ill on certain foods when they were children. It is the same process that affects adults undergoing chemotherapy. They are often advised to not eat foods they particularly like while undergoing chemo as they might develop an aversion to a particular food.
Overcoming a food revulsion is sometimes a process of mind over matter. One individual simply ate continuously and exclusively of foods he didn’t like until he finally overcame his revulsion.
As with children, telling them that they can’t claim to not like something until they have tasted it is a good approach. There is a well-documented psychological phenomenon where an individual exposed to certain foods develops a greater affinity to them merely by being exposed to them. When we eat, hormones are released, our body chemistry changes and our brain responds to this good news that nutrition is coming with a positive response to the very smell of a particular food.
Mr. Janssen might believe that he can’t eat anything but pizza, but if he were to find himself in a situation where pizza were no longer available, his very survival would depend on him developing a liking for other foods.