Teenager, 18, who lives on 100 chicken nuggets a WEEK due to a crippling fear of food textures is warned he’s at risk of a future heart attack if he doesn’t beat his phobia
- David, 18, from Darlington, lives on a diet of chicken nuggets and sausage rolls
- Warned his diet means he’s consuming two blocks of butter a week in fat and has increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, having a heart attack or stroke
- Appeared on Extreme Food Phobics where she conquered fear of mushy food
A teenager who lives on 100 chicken nuggets a week due to his crippling fear of food textures has been forced to change his eating habits after being warned about his future health.
David, 18, from Darlington, hadn’t touched a vegetable since childhood thanks to a life-long aversion to mushy food – being forced to order from the kids’ menu if he went out for a meal.
In a bid to tackle his fear of healthy food, the teen appears on this week’s episode of Extreme Food Phobics, airing tonight on W, where he admits that his diet was ‘ridiculous’.
In a candid chat with the show’s host, Dr Ranj, he is told he could be consuming up to 500 grams of saturated fat weekly, putting him at a much higher risk of obesity and associated health problems including Type 2 diabetes, a heart attack or stroke.
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David, 18, from Darlington, hadn’t touched a vegetable since childhood thanks to a lifelong aversion to mushy food – being forced to order off the kids menu if he went out for a meal
He lived on 100 chicken nuggets a week due to his crippling fear of food textures but was forced to change his eating habits after being warned about his health
‘If someone said my diet is ridiculous I would agree’, David says.
‘But I would explain it’s something deep in the back of my mind that I can’t change which is why I’ve come to the clinic today to hopefully get some help.’
David, who has never eaten a Christmas dinner before, is one of six children and feared that his eating habits would rub off on his younger siblings.
‘It’s awful to see my brother has started to eat this way and I know it’s because of me he’s started to become the same’, he says on the show.
‘I’ve struggled putting on weight all my life so eating fruits and vegetables will just make me feel so much healthier.’
In a candid chat with the show’s host Dr Ranj, he told David he could be consuming up to 500 grams of saturated fat weekly
The doctor and television presenter went on to explain the damage that David’s diet could be doing to his health, warning that an increased risk of obesity means a higher chance of type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and strokes
After showing David the vast amount of frozen food he consumes monthly, Dr Ranj tries to find the underlying reasons for his fear.
David explains: ‘I think it’s because I don’t like trying new textures, like mushy food, mashed potatoes. It’s just crispy textures I like really. It [mushy food] makes me gag and makes me feel sick.’
Speaking of his mother, he goes on: ‘It’s been hard for her, it’s stressful. I have my own freezer at home full of chicken bits so I can make my own bits while she makes tea for my siblings.
‘It’s quite embarrassing if I go for a meal with my friends. If I went for a meal I would have to order off the kids menu or get chicken nuggets or something like that.
‘I’ve got to look at the menu before I go to make sure there’s something I like, there have been times I haven’t gone and it’s because there’s nothing I like there.’
The first step in David’s rehabilitation was aversion therapy with Anthony Tait, a leading food phobia expert, who took him into a room full of potatoes, with a plate of mashed potatoes under a serving platter
After being convinced to touch the plate of food, he went on: ‘Just the texture of it, even touching them, it just makes me feel sick. It feels like there’s something on my finger that shouldn’t be there, it just doesn’t feel right’
The doctor and television presenter went on to explain the damage that David’s diet could be doing to his health, warning that an increased risk of obesity means a higher chance of type two diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
‘The problem with processed food like chicken nuggets is it’s quite high in saturated fat, which isn’t good for you’, he said.
What is avoidant/ restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) and how does it affect people?
Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
ARFID is when someone avoids certain foods, limits how much they eat or does both.
Beliefs about weight or body shape are not reasons why people develop ARFID.
Possible reasons for ARFID include:
- negative feelings over the smell, taste or texture of certain foods
- a response to a past experience with food that was upsetting, for example, choking or being sick after eating something
- not feeling hungry or just a lack of interest in eating
‘On a weekly basis, if you’re eating about 100 nuggets you’re probably getting between 400 and 500 grams of fat every week, that’s two blocks of butter. Currently the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat is only 30 grams a day.’
To push himself ‘out of his comfort zone’, David wanted to try mashed potatoes – convinced this would eliminate his fear of mushy foods.
The first step in David’s rehabilitation is aversion therapy with Anthony Tait, a leading food phobia expert, who takes him into a room full of potatoes, with a plate of mashed potatoes under a serving platter.
‘I think it just looks like a pile of my worst nightmare’, said David. ‘[It makes me feel] Quite sickly, anxious, like I’ve got butterflies.
‘I think it’s just the look of it and the texture of it, it’s hard to swallow. I feel like it’ll never go down, it’s never ending.
‘I think it could be something deep down to do with choking or fear of it getting stuck.’
After being convinced to touch the plate of food, he went on: ‘Just the texture of it, even touching them, it just makes me feel sick. It feels like there’s something on my finger that shouldn’t be there, just doesn’t feel right.’
Next in the therapy course is hypnosis with the help of clinical psychologist Felix Economakis, who aims to create new neural pathways in his patients to tackle fear of food.
During the session, Felix tells David that his subconscious is trying to protect him from an unknown threat, but highlights how his health will be impacted while under hypnosis.
After the hypnosis, David was feeling ‘much better’ and ‘more confident’ to try new foods, tasting fruit salad, which he said was ‘full of flavour’ and spaghetti bolognese which he enjoyed.
His final challenge is a banquet with his mother where David was able to try a chicken curry, celery and olives.
Four weeks on, David was seen munching on a sandwich as he revealed how beneficial the experience had been.
‘It’s been amazing the whole experience, now I can try anything and if I don’t like it I don’t like it.
‘Im looking forward to going for meals with my family, not worrying about what I’m going to order or what I’m going to eat.’
Extreme Food Phobics airs Wednesday at 8pm on W
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