Monday, 16 April 2012

Trying New Foods

When it comes to having Food Neophobia one of the biggest problems is the lack of treatment available. As its only just beginning to be understood, the treatments for it are also still very hit and miss. What works for one person may not work for another. The most common treatment is being sent for counselling or therapy, most commonly to treat the phobia part of the condition. I have been sent to various specialists and so far have never found one that actually works and that dealt with the main problem. Yes, I have gained a better understanding of why I have this condition and how it works. Yes, I have looked at past experiences that have directly affected the food I eat and how I use food to deal with stressful situations. However not one of them has helped me control the panic attacks and get past all the different stages to actually try new food and ideally develop my diet. 

The most recent treatment I had to go through was one that looked at the phobia aspect. The problem with most phobias is that they are irrational but in most cases can actually be avoided in daily life. If you are scared of flying, don't go abroad on a plane, if you have a fear of water don't go swimming or near the beach. If you are scared of heights don't climb ladders and if you have a fear of small spaces don't take the lift. If you have a fear of trying new foods the answer of simply not trying new foods isn't really a workable solution. However the treatment for phobias isn't really useful when trying new foods. Meditation before every meal, and visualising yourself trying the new food. For a start you can't meditate for 30 mins sessions before every meal to relax yourself when you have to go to work, university or generally have a life. Can you imagine at work when it comes to your lunch break saying to your boss they you are going to lie down for 30 mins and listen to a relaxation tape before you have your lunch! It just wasn't possible at that time in my life. As for visualising, I can visualise myself roller-blading along the prom, but that doesn't mean I can magically do it! (I tried to learn to roller skate as a child and my balance was dreadful!) I also had to keep a diary of food I tried and write about all my memories of food; good and the bad. This did nothing to help my phobia and only dragged up personal memories of abuse and other nasty experiences that I prefer to leave in the past. By the end of the 10 months of sessions I had only started to eat one new food (Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup) and had loads of old issues from the past buzzing around my head to deal with. I still had the panic attacks, still struggled to try new foods and had no tools to help control the disorder. 

The only advice that I have ever read or been given that carried any merit was from a fellow Food Neophobic on a online forum. She had managed to overcome her condition after years of living with it. What treatment did she have? Nothing. Like many others she found nothing worked. So how did she do it? Well somehow she managed to do it herself with determination and not giving up on it until she had beaten it. She stopped making excuses and confronted her condition. It was extremely hard but she managed to do it. She found that once she had knocked down a few key food walls, other foods became easier to try and it got easier and easier. Her advice was to keep fighting it and to celebrate every success even the small successes of having the food on the same plate or getting it into her mouth. She said she found the celebration of these successes (especially the praise from others) very rewarding and it was this that drove her on. 

I am not sure if this will work for me. As I have said what works for one person doesn't always work for someone else. However it is the best advice I have had so far so its worth a try. Thankfully I have a good friend who has offered to help with this, especially with preparing new foods and blind tasting sessions. (We are trying different techniques to overcome the trigger for the panic attacks, until we knock down my significant food walls). She also reduces another pressure I have which is the concern of wasting food. I am always worried that if I buy something to try and don't like it, its a waste of money and food. Luckily my friend is what I call a "food person" and loves cooking so I know the food won't go to waste. I also have the support of another friend (the mother of the friend who is helping me!) as well as a very close friend who is a long way away but who has always been very supportive about me improving my eating. 

So I am not going to make any promises or set any grand targets. I am simply going to say that my fight back against Food Neophobia has begun and ding ding Round One!

1 comment:

  1. Having had a panic attack today with my issues reading this and your lovely comments about me has made me cry a little. I'm honoured to be helping you, after all you help me too and thats what friends are for. To be there and do what we can for each other xx