Blame Mom For Your Bad Eating Habits

Do you love potato chips and pizza but shun vegetables? Your mother may be to blame for your bad eating habits. If she regularly succumbed to cravings to the exclusion of healthy foods, it may have impacted your early palate.

A new study from Philadelphia’s Monell Chemical Senses Center suggests that children adopt their mothers’ food preferences through the flavors found in her breast milk and amniotic fluid; if mothers want their babies to eat vegetables, especially bitter green vegetables, they need opportunities to taste these foods first.

In the study, 46 pregnant women were assigned to one of three groups. Women in the first group drank carrot juice during the third trimester of pregnancy and water while breastfeeding; the second group did the opposite; and the third group drank only water throughout.

Infants who were repeatedly exposed to carrot flavoring ate an average of three times more carrot-flavored cereal than did infants whose mothers drank only water.

Mother’s milk is arguably the first flavor experience a child is exposed to, offering a taste of their culture even before birth. “It’s a beautiful system,” says Julie Manella, the study’s author, “Infants learn what foods are safe by flavor cues in the amniotic fluid and mother’s milk.”


#1 foodette on 05.12.08 at 11:58 pm

That’s definitely fascinating, but I don’t think those of us who didn’t get a wide variety of amniotic flavors are doomed to what our mothers ate. How else can you explain my love for sushi? Or Indian food? Two things my mother never ate in her life. I have learned to love new foods, but it’s a process, and it’s never too late to learn to love to eat healthy.

#2 Doug Cress on 05.13.08 at 8:42 am

Hey Foodette,

I definitely agree. This is by no means the be-all-end-all of taste preference (and I took some liberties with the study).

I’m confident humans can adapt to any foods, though as children we’re wired to dislike certain things (like bitter vegetables). It certainly might be to our advantage if we’re regularly exposed to such things in a prenatal environment.

#3 Wheeler's Frozen Desserts on 05.18.08 at 2:13 pm

Interesting post! I’ve always wondered how much influence certain diets have for kids (emphasis on veggies versus processed, packaged foods). Funny picture too!

#4 eBalance: Heinrich von Grünigens Blog - Schuld ist Mutter on 06.21.08 at 4:50 pm

[…] der Stillzeit die Essensvorlieben und -abneigungen des Säuglings programmiert. Dies hat ein Versuch bestätigt, bei dem insgesamt 46 Schwangere in drei Gruppen eingeteilt wurden. die eine der […]

#5 kiran shukla on 11.15.08 at 4:07 pm

dear, I just wanted to know is there any science behind our eating habits, can we judge a person on the basis of what, how and whatever he eats? how means the plate he uses or the kind of mess he creates in the plate or just keeps it too clean even when he’s done?

#6 Cesalea on 03.01.10 at 9:48 pm

I have to do a senior project as a requirement to graduate high school. The topic has to be controversial. I was talking to my school pregnancy nurse and she suggested a topic along the lines of this artical. So if anybody can help me with any studies they find or any other articles relating to amniotic fluid being affected by what mothers eat and how that may relate to how kids eat now, It would really help out alot. Thanks

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