Posted by Eric Troy on 03 Oct 2014 19:54
Congratulations. You are living during an epidemic of food fear. People today, perhaps more than ever before, are afraid of the food supply and some of this fear borders on downright paranoia. But other fears that don't necessarily stem from unknown chemicals, GMO's, etc. plague certain people. These people have food phobias. I've listed ten of them below, both general and specific, and some of these may surprise you. Keep in mind that many of the general food-related phobias can overlap, with one specific fear being a component of a more generalize fear. As well, there are a great many specific food-related fears that may not have an official name.
Cibophobia, Sitophobia or Sitiophobia: Fear of Food/Fear of Eating
Although there are many specific phobias regarding food, a generalized phobia of food or eating is called cibophobia or sitophobia. Fear of food would seem to be a death sentence, but usually, the fears are centered on contamination, especially of perishable foods and foods that are past their expiration date. They may be overly concerned with how well cooked a food is, often preferring food to be cooked until almost burnt and dried out. Meats like chicken or pork, which more subject to contamination concerns like chicken or pork are especially difficult for those with cibophobia or sitophobia. Eating food that they themselves did not prepare, or over which they have no control, such as restaurant food, is something they may avoid, or have specific rules as to time or place.
I myself, although I do not have cibophobia, do not like eating foods at the homes of people I do not know well, simply because "I don't know how clean they are." I do eat it, though. Fear of eating other people's food is common, and those who suffer from this fear find an invitation to dinner a difficult, if not impossible, situation. Some can only comfortably eat food prepared by close family members or very close friends.
Fear of food or of eating can be related to fear of eating in public, which is discussed further below. It can also take the form of being afraid of eating foods forbidden by your religion. As well, it can have something to do with fear of choking (pnigerophobia), or fear of swallowing, called phagophobia, also discussed below.
Fear of Eating In Public
Fear of eating in public places or in the presence of others is a specific fear that can part of a generalized social phobia. Sometimes, this fear specifically relates to being watched or judged by others when eating. Those who struggle with weight or with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa often have this fear, and sometimes it can be warranted as family and friends may act as "food police," out of concern for the individual's well-being.
Deipnophobia: Fear of Dining with Others And/Or Dining Conversations
Some people are absolutely terrified by the idea of dining out with others, going to dinner parties, etc. We've all had some awkward dinner conversations, but these people are extremely afraid of having to have such conversations over dinner, and will avoid dining out with others. It has been pointed out that our relaxation of etiquette rules regarding dining can play a part in this kind of social anxiety.
Phagophobia: Fear of Swallowing
Phagophobia, or fear of swallowing, is thought of as a form of psychogenic dysphagia. People who suffer from this may feel like they are unable to swallow and have a profound fear of choking. they may also have the sensation of a foreign body in their esophagus, which doesn't go away when they swallow something else, like water. They may also have a feeling of throat pressure or constriction. They can find if hard to initiate a swallow reflex. Past instances of choking may have something to do with this fear.
Most of us with children are familiar with picky eating. We know how difficult it can be to get a child to try new foods. Children have many reasons for avoiding unfamiliar foods, but for some, they don't just avoid them, they are afraid of them. Some foods may make us sick. Some children have experience this reality. However, they lack the experience to understand what foods are dangerous and what foods are safe. As a result, any new food can cause acute fear. Anything that is not on their familiar list of foods can be suspect. And, it can go even further than that. For all a child with food neophobia knows, it isn't the food itself that causes the problem, but the way it is presented. The dish may be at fault! Or the way it's sliced! Most parents can deal with these fears at hoe, but such children can have a tremendously hard time at restaurants, parties, friends houses, or any place where they are expected to eat unfamiliar foods. The good news is that most children grow out of this. Still, food neophobia is not restricted to children.
Geumophobia: Fear of Unfamiliar Tastes or Flavors
This is often misrepresented as "fear of taste" making it seem like people with this phobia would avoid all taste and seek out foods that have as little taste as possible. While those with the disorder may indeed restrict their diet to very bland foods, it is often an avoidance of new or unfamiliar tastes or flavors. There is a condition known as gustatory agnosia in which food can be tasteless or even taste disgusting. The sense of smell can be associated as well, causing pleasant smells to seem offensive, or causing complete loss of the sense of smell. If a persons taste and smell is affected in this way, they may not know if they are eating foods or drinking beverages that they did not like in the past.
Mageirocophobia: Fear of Cooking
This fear is a lot more common than you may think but it is important to realize that it is only a phobia, when the fear and anxiety associated with cooking are strong enough to interfere with everyday life. These same is true of of any of the phobias listed here. You may avoid cooking and even be stressed out by it, because you aren't a very good cook, often burn things, etc. But that doesn't stop you doing simple cooking tasks that you are comfortable with, you just aren't a gourmet that is likely to be a contestant on Master Chef. People with mageirocophobia have much more wide-ranging and debilitating fear and some of these fears may be specific. For instance, they may fear causing others to get sick by improperly preparing food. Or they may fear serving food that is not edible. They may be generally fearful of the process of cooking. They may have a fear of recipes.
Acerophobia: Fear of Vinegar, Limes, Lemons or any Sourness
Lemons, limes, and vinegar are obviously avoided by those with this fear. The taste of sour, in all fairness, is something that we humans naturally avoid, to some extent, since it can be associated with spoilage. So this avoidance makes some sense. However, we have a taste for a certain amount of sourness, whereas those with acerophobia would find it off-putting, if not disgusting.
Alliumphobia: Fear of Garlic
This does not mean only fear of eating garlic but complete aversion to garlic, the scent or site of it. In times and places where people thought vampires were real, people with alliumphobia, who might suffer a panic attack if they see you holding some garlic, could be in trouble!
Arachibutryophopia: Fear of Peanut Butter Sticking to the Roof of Your Mouth
This could easily be confused with arachnophobia, or fear of spiders. To most of us, having peanut butter stick to the roof of our mouths is just an annoyance, but to some few, it is a terrifying occurrence. It may seem silly to you, but for people with this phobia, having peanut butter lodged in the roof of their mouths can be just as stressful as spiders can be for those with arachnophobia. They may feel like the peanut butter will never come off, or they'll never be able to open their mouth properly.Your dog probably hates it too.
Carnophobia: Fear of Eating Meat
Those with carnophobia have a morbid fear of eating flesh. This fear goes a lot further than a vegetarian's disdain for dining on an animal. This can, of course, be associated with a generalized fear of meat, whether or not they are expected to eat it. There are some related fears that are not specifically food phobias. For instance Alektorophobia is fear of chickens, meaning fear of the animal, including their feathers, wings, beaks, feet, etc. Eating chicken would, of course, be avoided by those afraid of chickens. Ichthyophobia, fear of fish, is similar, as well as Ostraconophobia, fear of shellfish, and Lachanophobia, fear of vegetables.
You'd be right to guess that if there is a fear of eating meat, there is also a fear of vegetables, something so many children seem to have. Fear of vegetables is called lachanophobia. Although this fear can be triggered by external events that happen at an early age, it often centers on the ground the vegetables are grown in, and the chance it might be contaminated. Variations of this phobia include lacanophobia mycosis, or fear of mushrooms, and lachanophobia lycopersicum, the specific fear of tomatoes.
Consecotaleophobia: Fear of Chopsticks
This one may make you say, "hold up, now. Let's not be ridiculous." If anybody is afraid of chopsticks, it can't be too many people! Well, this is a very unusual and rare phobia, but then again, arachibutryophobia is not exactly common, either. In order for a fear to be classified as a phobia, enough people have to report having this fear and have it be associated with symptoms that are considered typical of phobias, such as avoidance, panic (including anticipatory panic), associated rituals, and other criteria. Those with consecotaleophobia avoid using chopsticks, as do many of us who are not skilled in their use, but those with the phobia find the thought to be extremely stressful.
Food Phobias in School Age Children
Most children have a fear of new and unfamiliar foods. Such fear, which can be healthy (imagine if you were not there to guide your child in what is edible) is a normal part of growing up, albeit it frustrating. Sometimes, however, this fear can develop into a general or specific food phobia. Often, some external event associated with a certain food can cause a child to devleop a fear of that food. It is even possible for a child to have a fear of of chicken nuggets! Usually, it is the fear of a specific outcome, such as vomiting, choking, diarrhea, etc. that is at work. Sometimes a fear can be isolated and other times it can be part of a more serious eating disorder. My own son, for some time, had a fear of strawberries because of a slight rash he devoloped from eating strawberries when very young. This fear, then, was the fear of an allergic reaction, even though he was not actually allergic to strawberries.
More Food Science Posts