They are said to be difficult or fine, but some adults live with a little known eating disorder: food neophobia. 4 Infos to better understand this hypersensitivity. And they are not capricious … they are terrified!
What Is Food Neophobia?
Food neophobia – also called selective eating disorder – is characterized by a pronounced food selectivity that is to say that those who suffer from it eat only certain foods (or food groups) and refuse to taste others. What lies behind these dietary restrictions? Fear, as in other cases of phobia. New foods – those that come out of their diet – scare them. To taste them or even the simple idea of trying to taste them makes them panic. It is torture as intense as forcing someone who is afraid of the water to dive into a pool.
Neophobes, therefore, avoid certain foods sometimes because of their taste, texture, smell, temperature or even color. This resistance to food is often seen in children. But it is less known in adults. However, not eating such or such food is not for them a whim, but a fear with which they must compose each day, each meal.
The Impacts of Food Neophobia
This hypersensitivity causes a lot of trouble for food neophobes.
- It is believed that they exaggerate or that they have caprices. Thus, they tend to hide their phobia by creating false allergies or saying they do not like this food. Sometimes this creates tension with their loved ones because their selective feeding causes puzzles when preparing meals or gives a “bad” example to children.
- They are anxious when they meet new people and at events where the food is important (dinner with colleagues, family meal, business dinner, cocktail party, etc.). They are under a lot of pressure because they are often well regarded and valued for being an epicurean who enjoys varied culinary experiences.
- They can isolate themselves and deliberately avoid certain activities. This increases their anxiety and potential conflicts.
- Since they only eat certain foods, they may have some dietary deficiencies.
What To Do?
It is advisable to talk to a health specialist and a psychologist who can help neophobic food. Often, cognitive-behavioral therapy is suggested. It involves gradual exposure to a new food. It can also recommend food reconciliation, that is to say, to gently explore foods similar to those already tolerated or to add a tolerated food to a new one.