Food phobia or negative association?


I’m telling ya…it’s been a guilty week. Since the guilty pleasures party, I haven’t had one healthy home-made meal.  It’s been Indian takeaways, ham and coleslaw sandwiches for dinner (it’s just not right) and pot noodles.  Salad is on the menu for tonight, for sure.  Even if it is miserable outside!

Following the launch gig of the rather wonderful and quite prolific Adrian Crowley’s latest album Season Of The Sparks in The Sugar Club last night, there were some late-night pints accompanied by appropiately random chats with various lovely folks.

The subject of food phobias came up as someone was being slagged for not liking tomatoes and lettuce, specifying that cherry toms were ok but not the big ones, cooked or raw.

One of the girls said that she couldn’t eat mashed potatoes, a trait passed on to her through her Dad who’d had the unpleasant experience of being overfed them as a child.  Similarly, Niall’s Dad unsuccessfully tried to pass on his disdain for eggs to Niall and his siblings.  I know at least three people who simply abhor mushrooms.

For me, likewise with the above, I suffer not really from food fears but negative food associations.  I love to try new, weird and wonderful foods but, even as someone who prides themselves on being gastromically open-minded, there are still a few things I can’t eat.  And it’s all down to a not entirely unpleasant but nonetheless psychologically irritating experience in my youth.

I went to boarding school in Dublin for four years in my late teens and as a result I can not eat roast beef, cauliflower or McCambridge’s Brown Bread.  As I said, it’s not a phobia as much as the association of horrendously mass-produced dry, flavourless, boiled to within an inch of their life veg and dehydrated wilting roast beef served with a side order of metallic gravy and synthetic stuffing.  And for four years, breakfast was that psuedo soda bread that McCambridge’s have somehow managed to pawn to a vast majority of people as an actually decent cut of bread.  Christ on a bike.

But apart from boarding school food tasting like old tea towels, my parents were far, far away – and don’t get me wrong, that was both a brilliant thing and a totally shite thing at the same time – and I think that sometimes dry roast beef tastes a bit like homesick to me.  *sniff*  This is all very Oliver Twist.

There are people who suffer from genuine food phobias, which must be an absolute nightmare.  Here’s a fairly comprehensive list of some of the possibilties. Consecotaleophobia is surely one of the rarer ones!

Are there any foods that you dislike and are able to pinpoint where the negative assocation comes from?

Below is the video for Adrian Crowley’s The Wishing Seat, taken from Season Of The Sparks is out next Friday the 1st of May and will no doubt available in Road Records in Dublin and the most reputable record shops around the country.  Until then, head here to buy Adrian Crowley’s last album, the bleedin’ lovely Long Distance Swimmer.

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  1. Sweet rice desserts. Can’t be doing with them. I can’t pinpoint a precise incident but it’s been there since childhood. I think it’s what you might call ambrosiaphobia :)

  2. Ambrosiaphobia! I’m so with you on that one, rice puddings are GROSS. I can’t tolerate them either. Vile, lumpy goo.

  3. It used to be cheese, milk and bananas. Not necessarily all at once though. Cheese and milk was because that was the done thing to do – cram as much down your kids’ throats in the name of calcium and healthy bones. But I hated all of it. Except Cotswold cheese, which has chives in it and so didn’t taste quite as nasty, so I managed to eat my bodyweight in that, I think. Milk was a similar turn-off – my mum got me drinking it by giving me really milky tea. And a caffeine addiction that started early.

    Bananas… That nasty acky bit in the end. Made me barf as a kid.

    These days, I scarf down cheese of all persuasions and love bananas (although that was a gradual conversion). However, you’d have to really work on persuading me to drink a glass of milk straight up. Although alcholic milkshakes work just fiiiiiiiine :-)

  4. Hmmm, interesting question and a fascinating post, Aoife! There are plenty of foods I don’t like, yet not for a specific experiential reason. If I don’t like something its probably a taste or texture thing. Like fish … I really don’t like it at all, for no particular reason. It just makes me feel gaggy. Brrr!

  5. Jen – I can understand why you thought bananas were gross. There’s not much worse than a crappy old brown banana. One of those could put you off for life. I hear you about the milk too – not a major fan, although once every two or three years I’ll have a big glass of cold milk with some biccies. That I can do. With no problems whatsoever. Especially if the biccies in question are oreos. Yummmmm….!

    Hey Diva – yeah, I’m like that with prawns. There’s no reason for me to not like them, and I can eat them but I’d never order them. I don’t know where that came from, definitely no prawn-trauma in my past! But I definitely think there’s something to the negative association thing with food, for sure.

    But I’m so sad that you don’t like fish!! It’s the very reason why I never went vegetarian, I just couldn’t not eat fish. What about smoked salmon? No??

  6. Hey EEFS,

    An interesting thing that comes to mind is that in Homeopathy the practitioner takes into account food you crave and foods you detest, as being part of a set of overall symptoms making up your constitution…
    This includes loving certain foods and then turning on them (sugar puffs have been dragged in and out of my life like an oft-jilted lover) and avoiding them like the plague, only to reignite your love for them. Its all part of an overall picture of your health and tendency towards certain foods/aversions to others paint a picture of what your constitution is like, esp if its not just a negative association. Speaking of weird food associations, I cant think of Dallas without thinking Ambrosia creamed rice… and Count Duckula for me = weetabix.


  7. Ciara – sugar puffs as an oft-jilted lover, LOL!! There’s definitely something to it. I was talking to my mum about how my granny would NEVER EVER eat a salad in winter or soup in the summer, because that’s how the old folk do. But it’s not just an old tradition, it makes perfect biological sense as the old way of eating was much more natural and seasonal, and they ate what their body craved. Instead of today where we just eat what we want when we want and wreck the environment as we do it!

  8. That McCambridge’s stuff is gank.. and people thinkg it’s nice if they get it in an eating establishment or wherever!

    It’s pants.

  9. RPs – Like, totally rotten! I hate it so much! GAGGHHH!!!!

  10. I have what I call a phobia but Dr’s say its an eating disorder. I can’t eat or even watch someone eat anything green, not only veggies but candies, gum, a sucker ANYTHING green! I will get physically ill. I am not scared of green foods, but to see someone eat it just makes me feel very ill mostly causing me to be sick. Just wondering if I am the one in a million weirdo or if anyone knows what this really is?

  11. Keep up the good work. It looks like there’s more depth here for future posts.