Fruit Phobia (How to recognize Fructophobia)

In this brief guide, we will look at Fruit Phobia, or Fructophobia, and also consider possible conditions that may seem like fruit phobia but actually might be something else.

We will also look at other concepts related to fruit phobia, like Disgust response to fruit or fear of food, or Lachanophobia. 

What is Fruit Phobia?

Fruit phobia is officially known as Fructophobia, and it is a fear of all fruits, and it may involve a fear that the fruits have gone bad, or that they may make the person ill, or it may just arise out of a basic disgust for fruits in general.

Fruit phobia is one of the rarer phobias and it may often be a mask for bigger underlying problems like eating disorders or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Fruit phobia sufferers might stay away from fruits at all times and in some cases, they may not want to take any fruit-based or fruit-derived products.

News.com.au reports about a woman who has always suffered from fruit phobia and has not been able to bring herself to eat fruits as her mother wanted.

Anna Cox, the woman who does not like fruits at all, says about her mother trying to get her to eat some fruits, “She said something like, ‘I’ll give you a dollar if you eat a grape. I couldn’t do it.”

Anna, like other people who have a phobia of fruit, may often experience a rush of adrenaline and a feeling of panic when they come in contact with fruit, and they may have extreme reactions to it that make their phobia become even more rigid.

She described her fear further and talks about what the problem is and what she hates, “It’s that it’s wet and juicy and smelly,” she says. “The thought of touching it, getting it on me, is horrible.”

Because she has a phobia of fruits, Anna has avoided them all her life, which most people suffering from fruit phobia might do; it is a typical characteristic of any phobia that the person tries to avoid any situation where that object might present itself.

“One time I was in high school and I accidentally let my hand brush up against someone’s mandarin peel,” Anna remembers, “I raced to the bathroom to wash my hands but I couldn’t get the smell off. It was horrifying. I couldn’t get that smell of mandarin off my hands all day.”

She also reports that she felt incredibly grossed out when she saw someone eating a banana or hear the squelching sound that comes from someone chewing through the fleshy insides of fruits.

Disgust Response to Fruit

Fruit phobia may often be marked by a very intense disgust response to fruit, which may further push away the person from anything kind of fruit, and make their fear even deeper.

We saw in the previous section how a fruit phobia sufferer Anna Cox describes her disgust responses to fruit, and while sometimes it may be a reaction caused by a fear of fruits, in some cases it is actually another problem altogether that is masquerading as fear.

Some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder experience disgust to the situation they are obsessive about, and in the way Anna is able to remember the experiences she has had with fruit, the way she focuses on the sights and sounds, it sounds more like a case of Contamination OCD rather than a phobia.

Fear is easier to understand than disgust or obsession, and therefore many people might recognize it more readily, and they may often start describing it as a phobia when in reality they have a disgust reaction that fits better into OCD models.

Disgust is a very common feature in OCD, and it may often involve other things, like avoidance of the situation which elicits the disgust, which people like Anna may do with fruits, and it may involve efforts to cleanse oneself after contact with the thing that caused the disgust, which Anna sort of describes in the way she speaks of feeling the smell of mandarin on her hands and her race to the bathroom to get it off.

Obsessions and compulsions are not always about ruminating about the same thing or counting things and locking or checking doors and windows, it can be about something you have a strong response to, and it may often be imagery or sensory phenomena that you cannot stop thinking about, technically, even having a song stuck in your head can be an obsession.

Therefore, keeping this in mind, it is important to scrutinize disgust responses to fruits in a clear way, considering that they are often markers of OCD rather than a phobia.

Fear of Food

A fear of food is known as Cipophobia, and it is another condition that is often confused with other problems like eating disorders or OCD, which is why if someone is having a strong aversion to food, it is important to clarify why it is happening so the treatment can be done accordingly.

Some people may initially only have disgust towards food, and this has also been studied in a study regarding fear or disgust towards food.

The details of the study from the paper are given below:

“German-speaking Swiss adults (N = 1181) completed a paper-and-pencil questionnaire. Next to the Food Disgust Scale (FDS), the questionnaire included several established eating behavior scales, such as the Adult Picky Eating Questionnaire, a scale regarding seeking food variety, and a food frequency questionnaire. In addition, food waste frequency was also assessed by self-report. Multiple regression analyses showed that with increasing age, food disgust sensitivity scores increased and women showed higher FDS scores than men. “

“Moreover, while picky eating and the rejection of certain food textures were both positively associated with higher FDS scores, seeking variety in foods was negatively associated with food disgust sensitivity. Significant correlations between FDS scores and the frequency of consuming certain foods were observed (e.g. vegetables, seafood). Finally, people with higher FDS scores reported a higher frequency of wasting food than people with lower FDS scores. The results indicate that individual food disgust sensitivity plays a role in various food domains.”

The variables in this research are often what push the person into having a fear of food, and this needs to be studied further.

Typically, someone with a fear of food may show the following symptoms:

  • elevated blood pressure
  • trembling or shaking
  • pounding or racing heartbeat
  • rapid speech or a sudden inability to talk
  • sweating heavily
  • lightheadedness
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • chest tightness
  • dry mouth
  • upset stomach

Sigmund Freud described a case of a woman who displayed a very strong aversion or fear of food, and he also describes why it came about.

The woman described how disgusted she felt with food and how afraid she was of eating it, and the more Freud probed, it became clear that she had internalized really bad times when she had seen her sister extremely ill and she had started associating food with sickness and illness.

This may happen to a lot of individuals who suffer from food phobias, and it comes under the Behavioral Theories of phobia.

Lachanophobia

Lachano is the fear of vegetables, and like fruit phobia, it may be marked by extreme disgust and adverse reactions to vegetables and it may involve the same kind of aversion to vegetables as seen in other types of fears of food.

Someone with lachanophobia may be afraid of the texture of vegetables, or they may have an extreme fear that they will find insects or other illness-inducing things in them.

A person suffering from lachanophobia may also find it worrisome to eat vegetables unless they are cooked exactly to their specifications and they may even want them cooked to a point of burning so that their natural properties are lessened in some way.

Eating Disorders

One needs to be aware of some of the main signs and symptoms of Eating disorders as well so that fruit phobia if fear of vegetables or specific foods does not go too far and either become an eating disorder or hide an eating disorder.

The signs and symptoms of eating disorders according to the National Eating Disorders Association are:

Emotional Symptoms

  • “Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, fat grams, and dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)
  • Appears uncomfortable eating around others
  • Food rituals (e.g. eats only a particular food or food group [e.g. condiments], excessive chewing, doesn’t allow foods to touch)
  • Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals
  • Any new practices with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities
  • Frequent dieting
  • Extreme concern with body size and shape 
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
  • Extreme mood swings”

Physical Symptoms

  • “Noticeable fluctuations in weight, both up and down
  • Stomach cramps, other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid reflux, etc.)
  • Menstrual irregularities — missing periods or only having a period while on hormonal contraceptives (this is not considered a “true” period)
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Abnormal laboratory findings (anemia, low thyroid and hormone levels, low potassium, low white and red blood cell counts)
  • Dizziness, especially upon standing
  • Fainting/syncope
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Sleep problems
  • Cuts and calluses across the top of finger joints (a result of inducing vomiting)
  • Dental problems, such as enamel erosion, cavities, and tooth sensitivity
  • Dry skin and hair, and brittle nails
  • Swelling around the area of salivary glands
  • Fine hair on the body (lanugo)
  • Cavities, or discoloration of teeth, from vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Yellow skin (in the context of eating large amounts of carrots)
  • Cold, mottled hands and feet or swelling of feet
  • Poor wound healing
  • Impaired immune functioning”

If you feel that you or someone you know might be suffering from an eating disorder, you can reach out to the National Eating Disorder Association here.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we looked at Fruit Phobia or Fructophobia, and also considered possible conditions that may seem like fruit phobia but actually might be something else.

We also looked at other concepts related to fruit phobia, like Disgust response to fruit or fear of vegetables, or Lachanophobia. 

Many people may sometimes think they are phobic towards something when in reality they may have a different problem altogether, and they might not like a certain thing or not want to engage in certain situations and this fear might lead them to believe they have a phobia.

In cases of food or food-related things like fruits and vegetables, a phobic response needs to be examined with scrutiny to ensure that it is a fear response and not another underlying problem so it may be treated as such.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or comments about fruit phobia or other rare phobias, and let us know if you have suggestions for future blog topics.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Fruit Phobia

What is the weirdest phobia?

Here are some of the weirdest phobias:
Nomophobia: Fear of not having mobile phone access
Telephonophobia: Fear of making or taking phone calls
Chorophobia: fear of Dancing
Phobophobia: Fear of having a phobia
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia: Fear of the number 666
Anthophobia: Fear of Flowers
Heliophobia: Fear of Sunlight

What causes Cibophobia?

Cibophobia may be caused by environmental, genetic, or psychological factors, and in some cases, people may also experience this fear of food because they may be extremely afraid that the food is already spoiled. 
Fear of food, or Cibophobia, can also occur out of a fear that the food has gone bad and the person will become ill after eating them, and these individuals may also be fearful of undercooked food or food-borne illness of any kind.

What is the fear of bananas called?

The fear of Bananas is called Bananaphobia and while it is not one of the more common phobias, it can be pretty frightening to the sufferer and may need an intervention just like any other type of phobia.

What is the meaning of Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?

The meaning of Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is a fear of long words, and it is, ironically, the longest word in the dictionary.
This phobia is not officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.

Citations

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573572/

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rstb.2010.0117

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666317315684

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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