It's a pretty bad situation if you're scared to cook, taste, or even swallow food, but if your fear won't let you get close enough to even touch it, then you're on a different terrible level.

Cibophobia is most common in children, but in some cases lasts into adulthood, and while some fears are specific to a certain kind of food, as ever there are extremes. This phobia actually sounds a bit more rational (just a bit, though) in some ways than the others we've mentioned, in that sufferers are scared of food doing them harm.

Much like a paranoid person is convinced everyone is out to get them, a sufferer of cibophobia thinks that the food they eat will make them sick or kill them. This sometimes leads to obsessive restrictions on the preparation of food or even the complete exclusion of solid foods from the diet.

A PUB landlord is so afraid of certain foods just the sight and smell of them can drive her to panic attacks and make her physically sick. For as long as she can remember, Jill Hayman has been scared of food. ARFID is Avoidance and Restricted Food Intake Disorder. It’s basically, there’s a lot of people in the world who can just be picky with food and don’t like some things. With this, it’s more of an anxieties-based disorder. It makes you scared of food no matter what. It just, kind of, takes over your life and controls everything you eat. The vast majority of Jill’s meals simply consists of bread and a soft drink.

She has not had a hot meal but her closest get is toast. Like, seriously she has never used the knife and fork and has had a hot meal. Aside from bread, there is a tiny and very specific selection of foods that Jill can face eating. 

JILL’S SAFE FOODS:

White and Wholemeal bread (ideally Hovis), Ski Smooth yogurts (strawberry and raspberry only), Under ripe Bananas, Golden delicious apples, Green and red grapes, Frazzles and French Fries crisps, Prawn Crackers, Haribo Jelly sweets, Dairy Milk chocolate (plain only), Mint choc chip or chocolate ice cream, Chocolate or victoria sponge cake NO cream.

Jill said that I think with ARFID it, quite often it’s weird to explain but it just shuts off your throat. It’s like, just a shutter comes down the front of my throat and like I can’t eat this, I can’t swallow this. The anxiety then takes control of your whole life. It just weighs you down. You just feel so defeated. You feel the odd one out. You feel totally different from everybody else. I have actually been physically sick just speaking about food once. So, we have just been written off as a joke she is the fussy eater, she is a weirdo with food.

One person who doesn’t judge Jill for her eating disorder is her long-term partner, Craig. Craig Mather is the boyfriend of Jill and they are living together for about  6 to 7 years.

Craig Mather said I met Jill about 6 or 7 years ago when she worked in a local pub while she was working and I was on the other side of the bar and we just got to know each other. It’s a lot more difficult than you think. It's not just, you know, as simple as, “OKAY”. We can just nip down to the nearest shop and get a loaf of bread but at times, you know, we have been out, when we go, we try to go for something to eat and you know, you do get some weird looks from people, so you know, are you being serious? Do you just want a bread roll? And she is more annoyed at herself than anything else, which she really shouldn’t be, so, it is an eating disorder.

 

JILL’S DAILY DIET:

Breakfast: 3 slices of bread, Can of Irn Bru, Lunch: 2 slices of toast, Can of Irn Bru, A handful of Haribo sweets, Dinner: 2 slices of toast or a Frazzles sandwich, Pint of dilutant juice (squash), Evening treats (if not working): ice cream or an Aero mint hot chocolate.

Jill spent years going to the doctors without getting a definitive diagnosis but recently had a breakthrough after finding someone who she thinks can help tackle her condition. Jill joined the Selective Eating Disorder support forum on Facebook and will embark on a new hypnotherapy technique with Felix Economakis, introducing her to 15 more foods, to try and get her eating more foods.

Jill said: “I just want to be able to go and pick up a knife and fork, sit down and have a meal. I want to be normal.”