I read this story about a 17 year old crisp addict in the Metro newspaper that I wanted to share with you.
James Duckworth was eating 40 packets of ready salted crisps a week before he sought help from a hypnotherapist. James was suffering from selective eating disorder (SED) that basically meant he hated “wet food” like ketchup or tinned spaghetti. He couldn’t even be in the same room if someone was eating baked beans.
“Foods like that made me gag,” he said.
James survived on a bland diet of salted crisps, though sometimes he would eat fish fingers and chips for dinner if he was feeling adventurous.
“I wasn’t fussy about the brand – as long as the crisps were ready salted with very little flavour I would eat them,” he said.
James was able to kick this habit with the help of his hypnotherapist and is now eating a diverse diet ranging from curries to fruit.
“The first food I had was fruit salad – I really like strawberries. I also like chicken tikka masala. It’s refreshing not to have anxiety around food,” he said.
Most cases of SED are triggered when patients are babies, which was true in the case of James.
Hypnotherapy helps to work with the patient’s subconscious to process the past and let go of the fear.
This story struck a chord with me because many people I know (including myself) have had or still have some kind of food that they avoid because they have an inexplicable dislike of it.
For instance, my eldest child can’t stand the texture of cooked onions, although she can happily chomp on them raw in salad. And my youngest gags at the very mention of yoghurt. When I think back to their baby days I know that these dislikes started at this early stage in their lives. For some reason they had a bad experience that has stuck in their mind and it is deeply embedded, like a fear or belief.
The thing is, most people don’t associate this kind of problem with a phobia or fear, which is what it is. Instead, they believe that it is something specific to them: “it’s just me, I don’t like custard” or “I have this thing about drinking out of tupperware bottles.” This latter comment contains the clue to when this fear of drinking from water bottles started, perhaps packed lunches at school.
Basically these fears are simply negative beliefs forged early in life which trigger when they experience a similar stimulus later on in life. And people go on and on, throughout their lives, coping with what they believe are personal quirks of palate, developing new behaviours to avoid certain foods and triggers. They also risk passing these fears onto their own children.
The good news is that this problem can be cured with a high success rate using hypnotherapy. Working with the subconscious to help people “reprogramme” the initial negative event removes the cause of the fear, and thus the belief and fear itself.
When I read about this teenager I wasn’t surprised that he could be cured of SED. I did wonder though if James Duckworth will eat ready salted crisps ever again. I’m sure he will. But now at least he can choose.