A 34-year-old woman who hasn’t eaten fruit or vegetables since she was four has been forced to change her ways, or risk severe health problems.
Emma, from Harrogate, admitted to Dr Ranj Singh on W’s Extreme Food Phobias that she once had a Christmas Day dinner consisting of just garlic bread and “chip butties”, due to her life-long terror of refusing to try different or new foods.
Having grown tired of the problem, known as Cibophobia, she reached out to the show and appeared on last week’s episode.
She confessed that her diet leaves her so “tired” she goes straight home from work to sleep and fails to enjoy an “active” social life.
Emma said: “I’d love to wake up one day, click my fingers and I can eat whatever I want. I’ve been unable to try new foods, just the thought of trying them stresses me out, makes me all tense.
“I think my goal would be to have a Christmas meal with my family and not have chip butties and garlic bread on Christmas Day. I am desperate to overcome this phobia not only for my own sanity and health but for my friends and family.
“My mum had difficulties with me eating new foods – she took me to the doctors back and forth.
“All my mum kept getting was ‘It’s just a phase, she’ll snap out of it’ and I didn’t.
“So basically I’m 34-year-old and I have an eating disorder where I can’t physically try new foods.”
Emma isn’t oblivious to the dangers of the issue, and told Dr Ranj that there is “no guarantee” she’s able to have a future because of the impact the diet has on her boy.
Kent-born Dr Ranj, 42, warned Emma that the particular issue with bread, which is what the majority of her diet consists of, is it “contains a lot of refined carbohydrates and that will play havoc with your blood sugar levels”.
He said: “The garlic bread contains a lot of oil, which plays a lot of havoc with your blood fats. Put it all together long term it’s going to put you at risk of obesity.
“The other issue is you’re not getting your essential vitamins and minerals. One in particular is iron, iron is important for your red blood cells helps you feel energised and more able to do the things you want to do every day.”
After deciding upon Aversion Therapy – forcing the person to confront the item they are afraid of – as the way forward, Emma then laid bare just how bad her phobia is.
“When I see vegetables, cut up ready to be eaten then the freaking out starts, I just get all clammy and tense and panic,” she admitted.
She was then subjected to a course of hypnosis from clinical psychologist Felix Economakis.
To the shock of herself, Emma was able to try slices of apple during the sessions. This, she claimed, “was an achievement”.
After the session, she said: “I’m so happy with how it’s gone.
“I’ve made progress. I had a cheese and onion pasty, I really enjoyed that. I tried some bacon, I enjoyed that I just need to keep it up and push myself.”
Extreme Food Phobics airs on W at 9pm Wednesdays
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