Like other things we fear or hate such as snakes, heights, crowd, elevators, confinement etc, people also have aversion to certain foods. There’s that sibling, friend or neighbor we think weird because they find some foods (which happen to be a favorite for us) disgusting or even terrifying. We laugh or tease them and make them feel they are missing out. Well, I believe there’s always a reason or story behind their dislike for certain foods. Let me start by sharing mine.

When I was very little, I hated beans. You see, we used to have a dog called Brownie whose favorite pastime was excreting all over the place. Brownie would roam about eating all sorts of rubbish from the neighbours’ waste bins and bring home his little present. As children we would go about chasing and beating the dog especially since we would be the ones to clear the mess. Tomorrow, Brownie would repeat the same thing. Each time Mum cooked Beans; I’d be reminded of the dog’s faeces and refuse to eat. I think I overcame this phobia when Brownie was given away. Gradually, the memory began to fade and today Beans happens to be one of my favorite foods.

A close friend of mine has Ichthyophobia (fear of fish). When he told me his reason, I almost laughed because our stories are quite similar. His dislike for fish was also birthed out of a childhood memory. His mother used to have a cat. One day, he walked into the room and saw the cat eating the raw fresh fish intended for making soup later in the day. Since then, my friend says he hasn’t tasted fish.

Other factors that could trigger dislike for certain foods could be the texture, smell, taste of the food or just our own hyper active imagination at work. For instance, I know of several people who are ovophobic. They don’t eat eggs because the smell makes them nauseous. These people can’t even bear to be in the same room with someone eating egg.

Woody Allen, a popular actor once disclosed his dislike for peanut butter because he feared it would stick to the roof of his mouth. Some people have Itironophobia (fear of noodles) because it reminds them of worms. Foods like spaghetti, macaroni or even sliced onions are a no go area.

While this might sound irrational, there is also the fear of food itself. People with cibophobia worry whether the food is well prepared, they worry about perishable food items like milk, butter etc. Cibophobics live in constant fear that they might vomit or choke on trying new foods. Hence they restrict themselves to what they are used to. Restrictive eating however poses serious risk to our health as the body would be deprived of several nutrients.

Majority of these fears are birthed out of our experiences, memories, habits etc all of which accumulates in the mind. In the long run, we can learn to manage or change our habits. However, experts recommend therapy sessions for those suffering from extreme food phobia.

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