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Food Phobia And How To Stop It Food Phobia vs Eating Disorders

There has been a lot of described in psychopathology literature but cibophobia is one of the most debilitating phobias with serious health consequences.

Cibophobia pertains to the excessive and persistent fear of food. It has two basic types: food aversion and inability to swallow.

With food aversion, a phobic person may respond to a particular food with revulsion. In some cases, there could also be intense feelings of fear towards food. These responses could be due to a past experience or to a family taboo.

Food Aversion

Food aversion can have a strong impact on the person and may last for a lifetime. Some people may have food aversion towards meat products, greasy food, food that doesn’t taste good, or unfamiliar food items. A person with food aversion needs help especially if this phobia is greatly affecting the quality of his/her life.

Fear of Choking

The inability to swallow develops from one’s fear of choking. It can be linked to one’s extreme sensitivity to the gag reflex or that sensation of a ‘tight throat.’ This kind of food phobia may occur among those with agoraphobia (irrational fear of enclosed public places) and those with generalized anxiety disorder.

People with a choking phobia may feel that they are incapable of swallowing any solid food which at some extent, may include mushy food (like baby food) and liquids.

Food Phobia vs Eating Disorders

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa may have some things in common but they’re not the same.

With eating disorders, people avoid food and can have very restrictive diets as a result of their intense fear of gaining weight. They avoid food because they’re too preoccupied with body image and worry a lot about calories and gaining weight. It’s different from food phobia. Food phobics avoid food because they have this intense fear of the food itself and not really the impact of food on their body weight.

Causes of Food Phobias

There are a lot of factors that can contribute to the development of food phobias. It can be a result of observational learning on which a person develops this strong fear out of observing someone who is very afraid of something. For example, a child may develop an intense fear of eating a particular food after observing a parent who shows intense fear of eating it.

Another possible cause of food phobias is classical conditioning. The classical conditioning theory suggests that a new behaviour is developed through the process of association. A person may develop food phobia as a result of a negative or unpleasant experience in the past with this particular food.


Like other forms of phobia, cibophobia can cause a great deal of physical and psychological distress to a person. The intense fear of a certain food may lead a person to overcook it or avoid it at all. This puts people with food phobias at great risk of suffering from nutritional deficiencies.

People with the fear of choking may throw a tantrum when forced to eat a particular food. It may end up with arguments with friends or family. Aside from causing strain in the relationship, people with cibophobia may also have sleep-related issues like insomnia and nightmares.

Managing Food Phobias

Avoidance of the stressor is a common trait shared by people with phobias. While this response provides them with temporary anxiety relief, this doesn’t benefit them. They will still be in distress the next time they are exposed to this stressor.

Food phobias can be managed in different ways. One of which is through exposure therapy. This form of therapy involves several steps done in a systematic way to slowly expose the person to the food he/she is afraid of. These steps may involve smelling, tasting, and watching others eat a particular food.

Another way of stopping food phobias is hypnotherapy. It is a form of complementary therapy that can be used for treating various conditions and for breaking certain habits.


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