Food Phobia

Blog reader and friend Yasmin sent me this awesome article that I wanted to share here today, called “Food Phobia”.

While I’m 100 percent guilty of having an aversion to many foods (be it texture, taste, fat content, calorie content) I am not really afraid of any food.

Therefore I can’t imagine living like Dave Nunley, who is  is a food phobic in the UK. According to the article, he has primarily subsisted on grated cheddar cheese since birth.

Yup, you heard me right. He’s eaten grated cheddar cheese every day of his life.

The article goes on to say, “This isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Unlike fad diets that eschew one corner of the food pyramid for another, food phobia is an actual fear-based aversion to a particular kind of vittle, either due to taste, association, or texture. The disorder, which psychologists believe has links to obsessive compulsive disorder, can lead to nutritional deficits, a compromised immune system, and a lot of awkwardness at dinner parties. Orthorexia, a  similar condition, is an obsession with healthful eating that can at times become so severe that it leads to anorexia, but food phobics find their meals dominated by their fear. Ironically, legendary egg-shaped director Alfred Hitchcock was an admitted ovophobe, and was “revolted” by eggs.”

Now, I’ve talked about orthorexia here — recognizing there was a time when I was borderline orthorexic myself.

But whereas orthorexics can be annoying to be around (I know, I was one — pot, meet kettle)… food phobias can be very serious, and can have health implications —  such as severe nutritional deficits.

How about you? Have you ever met a real food-phobic? Are you one? If you’re recovering from an ED/DE … was there any food that you feared?


7 thoughts on “Food Phobia

  1. There wasn’t ONE food I feared, there were whole groups of foods I feared/still fear.
    Carbs, grains, fats of all kinds, sugar, salt you name it. I have my own chopping boards, pans, pots etc o make sure my food never touched anyone else’s. It’s irrational but I can’t get out of the mindset :S

  2. I met someone who wouldn’t go near eggs because she could only think of baby chickens.

    I don’t have a real fear of food but like you I have an aversion to things with lots of sugar and fat. I also have an aversion to lots of organ meats just because they are organs. EEWWW!

  3. For about a year I was terrified of seafood. I once had a bad panic attack while eating sushi (unrelated) and from then on, I was determined that I was allergic to fish, even though I’d eaten it for many years and never had a problem. It got so severe that I wouldn’t even touch anything seafood-related. Eventually the fear went away.

  4. I deal with something on a daily basis and I have been constantly searching the internet for answers. When I think about eating, or preparing a meal, I have typical sides that I like to go with certain kinds of meats. These sides must be prepared in a certain way. I also have certain meals that I really like, and I have very methodical ways in which I cook them. If someone suggests something different, I quickly shoot them down and make sure they know that it’s got to be my way or it just won’t be right. My husband has been living with this for nearly 10 years now and is used to it, however my new roommate isn’t quite as understanding.
    The other night my husband made a meal for me, he purchased a different kind of tomato sauce than I generally do, and I got nervous about it. I begged him to add plenty of sugar to the sauce so that it would taste right and he said he would. I had to literally leave the room while he cooked. The entire time I just knew it was going to be wrong. After a few bites I began to get really emotional. I was angry. I felt like he didn’t listen to me when I told him it was going to be wrong. I ended up unable to sit at the table and eat the food. I went upstairs and began to have a panic attack and cry because of how I treated him.
    I am not anorexic you can look at my overweight frame and tell that. I TRUTHFULLY do not purge or take laxatives to rid myself of food. I don’t weigh myself. I don’t count calories. I am not obsessed with “health food”. I do not over exercise. I am also not afraid or terrified of any foods…however I do have a laundry list of foods on my “I don’t eat that” list for various reasons…some based on health, some on taste, some on texture, some have no basis…I just will not eat them.

    My problems with food are a very confusing, undiagnosable neurosis. I am a psychology major in college right now. I am aware that my feelings, reactions, and the way that I deal with eating and food…even grocery shopping for me can be overwhelming…I can only shop in certain stores, and sometimes if I don’t make a list I can’t figure out what to buy and the feeling becomes so overwhelming that I have panic attacks and have to leave the store.

    It is so hard living like this because I have yet to find someone that can understand how it feels…and I have also not been able to find someone who realizes that me trying to rehabilitate these neurotic tendencies often causes more problems. I don’t know what to do.

  5. Thank you for your insight, ladies. Niahm, it IS irrational, but it’s not an easy mind-shift to make.

    Missy–I remember in Argentina we went to this asado and they wanted us to eat blood sausages and I nearly gagged. My husband, however, will eat anything and my brother is living in S Korea and he too will try anything!

    Alison, that is so scary and following an allergic reaction, no wonder you’d be leery about seafood!

    Hi Jan and thank you for sharing your experience. It Is so hard living with a disorder — whatever it may be (sounds like EDNOS) and maybe therapy (or your education in psych!) will be able to help you? Best of luck to you … food is meant to be enjoyed … I’d definitely seek some help; you shouldn’t have to live so unhappily–you deserve more than that!

  6. I have some pretty severe food phobias. I eat 5 foods, all of them whole foods so they aren’t mixed with anything else. I’m terrified of having an allergic reaction to anything that goes in my body, so I pretty must just avoid everything. I’ve been in therapy before, but I just seem to get worse. I’ll be starting with a new therapist soon, so hopefully that will do some good. I know I’m terribly nutrient deficient, but it’s like there’s some type of barrier between my desire to eat and my ability to actually do it.

  7. I have a 8 year old, who for last 18 months has an phobia about eating foods with fats in, all because of healthy eating at school and what they are telling children in school. She lost 1/2 stone at one point and thinks Chicken is bad for you. She is see some one for it but people just don’t understand that its not because she wants to be thin, she just doesn’t want to eat fat because its bad for you she says.
    What are they teaching our children, how can a 8 year old pretty, happy little girl have a eating disorder.

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