A woman who has eaten only cheese, chips and pasta for more than 20 years after developing a fear of fruits and vegetables has been cured by hypnotherapy.
Jenny Edgar, 32, would gag if she tried anything other than her bland diet of dry cereal, cheese and cookies, or her everyday dinner of pasta or french fries. Even her Christmas dinner was macaroni cheese washed down with a glass of water.
The health center receptionist, from Coventry, England, avoided eating out as any fruit, vegetables or fish would leave her heaving. But after getting engaged she decided to face her life-long fear of healthy grub to lose weight before getting married next March.
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Incredibly, after six hypnotherapy sessions, Edgar can now enjoy some of her most feared foods.
“When I was a child I would eat raisins and grapes but hated vegetables,” said Edgar. “As I got older I didn’t touch greens at all and would just eat cheese and pasta because I knew I liked them. I had a real fear of not liking fruit and veg so didn’t even bother putting them in my mouth in case I had to spit them out.”
Edgar further explained that she “hated the texture” on some of the foods, like the fuzz on peaches, or the “juiciness” of tomatoes.
“When I was in my teens it wasn’t really a problem because I was quite slim but after going to college and having my son I really noticed the weight going on. I also stopped meeting friends in restaurants or going out in case I didn’t like the food,” she said. “One Sunday, I went for dinner at my fiance’s house and I had to take my own [ready-made] meal of macaroni cheese. It was very embarrassing and it was getting me down. I just thought to myself that if I don’t sort it out now then I never will.”
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Edgar, who lives with fiancé Mark Lancashire, 37, decided to tackle her fears to help her 8-year-old son Kian have a healthy diet.
“Kian is of an age where he needs to try different foods and I didn’t want him to be affected by me,” she said. “Because I don’t like fruit and veg, I’ve only been buying him strawberries but I want him to try lots of different things.”
Edgar visited hypnotherapist Russell Hemmings, who coached her using cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy in the hopes of helping her overcome her phobia.
“The first session I had was amazing. He just talked to me in a really relaxed way and got me to try five different fruits. I put a piece of pineapple in my mouth and just couldn’t believe the flavor. It was delicious and I said I couldn’t believe I’d waited so long to eat it.
During the session, she also tried mango and apple — although the latter wasn’t one of her favorites. Still, after the therapy, she was “at least” willing to give it a try.
“After a few more sessions, Russell cooked up fresh fish and vegetables which tasted great. I was worried to try them at first but then after a few nibbles I was hooked.”
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Now, Edgar is looking forward to expanding her cooking skills, and is even planning on growing her own vegetables at home.
Self-help guru and author Russell Hemmings who specializes in treating anxiety disorders, depression and weight, said “eating anxiety” is often tied to childhood, and certain foods can trigger emotions and negative responses.
“When working with food aversion, the phobic response when food is introduced may also induce a feeling of revulsion,” he said. “Food aversion can grow very strong, and can also, unfortunately, last a lifetime.”
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Hemmings says he used a “three-pronged approach” of coaching, hypnotherapy cognitive-behavioral therapy to “re-wire Edgar’s responses so she no longer feared certain foods.”
“I was delighted to see Edgar try so many different fruits and vegetables which she hadn’t tried for more than two decades,” he said. “She has made incredible progress and she motivated to enjoy a healthier, more balanced and exciting diet which will improve her and her family’s lifestyle.”