Therapy for Specific Phobias (Phobias Therapy)


Phobias Therapy


Food & Eating-Related Phobias

Food & Eating-related phobias are a subset of specific phobias where individuals experience extreme fear or anxiety related to food, eating, or certain types of foods. These phobias can lead to significant distress and can affect a person’s nutritional intake and social interactions. Some of the most common food-related phobias include:

What are Specific Phobias?

Specific phobias are intense, irrational fears of particular objects, situations, or activities that pose little to no actual danger. People with specific phobias often go to great lengths to avoid the feared object or situation, which can significantly impact their daily lives. Common categories of specific phobias include animal phobias, natural environment phobias, situational phobias, and blood-injection-injury phobias.

girl turning around.
phone, water bottle, and open journal on a couch.

Cibophobia (Fear of Food)

Cibophobia is the fear of foods or a specific food itself. People with cibophobia may be afraid of consuming food because they worry it might be contaminated, poisoned, or cause illness. This phobia can lead to severe dietary restrictions and nutritional deficiencies.


Mageirocophobia (Fear of Cooking)

Mageirocophobia is the fear of cooking or meal preparation. Individuals with this phobia may avoid preparing meals altogether, relying on others to cook for them or opting for pre-packaged foods. This can result in a lack of control over dietary choices and potential nutritional imbalances.


Emetophobia (Fear of Vomiting)

Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting. This phobia can cause individuals to avoid eating certain foods or eating in public due to the fear of feeling nauseous or vomiting. This can severely limit their diet and social interactions related to food.


Pseudodysphagia (Fear of Choking)

Pseudodysphagia is the fear of choking. People with this phobia may avoid solid foods or foods with certain textures, fearing they might choke. This can lead to significant dietary restrictions and difficulty maintaining a balanced diet.


Phagophobia (Fear of Swallowing)

Phagophobia is the fear of swallowing. Individuals with this phobia may be afraid to eat or drink, worrying that they might choke or experience pain while swallowing. This can result in extreme weight loss and nutritional deficiencies.


Deipnophobia (Fear of Eating in Public)

Deipnophobia is technically a social anxiety disorder involving intense fear or discomfort at the thought of eating in front of others. This condition can lead to avoidance of social situations involving food and can significantly impact one’s social and personal life.


Causes of Food & Eating-Related Phobias

The development of food and eating-related phobias can be attributed to several factors, including:


Traumatic Experiences

A negative or traumatic experience related to food or eating, such as choking, food poisoning, or an allergic reaction, can lead to the development of a food-related phobia. Chronic pain or even poor dental experiences can lead the brain to associate experiences with danger, triggering intense fear when faced with similar situations or sensations in the future.


Learned Behavior

Observing a family member or close friend with a food-related phobia can contribute to the development of similar fears. Children, in particular, are susceptible to adopting the fears and anxieties of those around them.


Genetic Predisposition

There is evidence to suggest that phobias can run in families. If a close relative has a specific phobia, there is a higher likelihood that another family member might develop a phobia as well, due to genetic factors and shared environmental influences.


Underlying Anxiety & Eating Disorders

Individuals with underlying anxiety disorders are more prone to developing specific phobias, including those related to food. Generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can exacerbate fears and lead to the avoidance of certain foods or eating situations. Additionally, eating disorders such as Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) can contribute to or stem from food-related phobias. ARFID involves avoiding certain foods or entire food groups due to the fear of negative consequences such as choking, vomiting, or allergic reactions, which can further entrench food-related anxieties.


How To Manage Food & Eating-Related Phobias

Each individual is unique, and so is their experience with anxiety. My approach emphases personalized treatment plans, tailored to meet your specific needs.  Phobias Therapy is a collaborative process where I work closely with you to address your goals. Regular assessments are given to ensure our treatment plan is effective and it can be adjusted as needed for optimal results. 

woman holding coffee.
Catherine Alvarado Office Chair

Ongoing Support

Continuous support from mental health professionals is crucial for managing food-related phobias. Regular therapy sessions, check-ins, and access to supportive communities can provide a stable foundation for individuals to address and work through their fears. Consistent support helps in building coping mechanisms and provides encouragement throughout the recovery process. Learn More. 


EMDR Intensives

EMDR is a psychotherapy technique that has been found effective in treating various phobias and trauma-related disorders. EMDR intensives involve concentrated therapy sessions over a short period, allowing individuals to make significant progress in a condensed timeframe. This approach can be particularly useful for those with severe food-related phobias, helping to process and reframe traumatic experiences associated with food and eating. Learn More. 


Adjunct EMDR

In addition to regular therapeutic practices, adjunct EMDR can be incorporated to address specific triggers and underlying traumas related to food phobias. By using EMDR alongside other therapeutic methods, individuals can target and alleviate specific fears more effectively. This combined approach can enhance overall treatment outcomes and provide more comprehensive support. Learn More. 

Phobias Therapy: Resources & Support for Phobias 

If you feel this approach could benefit you, connect with me so we can discuss further and determine next steps. Additional self-help tools and reading about phobias and related issues can be found on the Blogs