NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For some, the mere mention of getting on a plane is enough to work up a cold sweat, while for others a spider might do it.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer explained, millions of Americans suffer from a variety of phobias — and some are also scared of food.
How could a dollop of mayonnaise prompt screams of fear? For some people, indeed it does.
“I am scared of food, which is totally ridiculous,” one woman admitted.
Believe it or not, an increasing number of people live in fear of food.
“There are messages out there about food being prepared improperly, carrying bacteria, food not stored correctly, all of those things I think create anxiety,” eating disorder specialist Sondra Kronberg said.
Anxiety that for some can develop into an obsessive-compulsive condition known as cibophobia.
Kronberg is a spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association and said not only is it on the rise, it can be debilitating.
“There’s really a torment around not being able to participate,” she said.
Experts said cibophobia typically falls into patterns — some develop a fear of foods cooked outside the home, whether it be at a restaurant or somebody else’s house.
“I wouldn’t even eat my grandma’s cooking,” Constance Dunkley said.
Others may fear highly perishable foods like meats or dairy products.
“Does it have an expiration date? If I get too close to the expiration date will it already be expired? The mind goes wild,” Kronberg explained.
At the root is often the worry of getting food poisoning or putting something unhealthy into the body.
“You being to see people do things like smelling their food and calling in advance asking all kinds of questions and looking at the texture,” Kronberg said.
It can also be in conjunction with a fear of gaining weight, especially for someone who has already she unwanted pounds.
“I am constantly putting pressure on myself. it’s not fun to live life when you’re constantly worried about eating,” one woman said.
There is help available.
“Treatment would be a collaborative approach where you’re working on some of the underlying fears,” Kronberg said.
It may not be as widely known and common as other eating disorders, but the results can be just as damaging. Doctors said those with cibophobia often lack the proper nutrients in their diet.