Lachanophobia is an unwarranted or an irrational fear of vegetables. The word originates from Greek Lachno meaning vegetables and Phobos meaning fear or aversion. Many people dislike vegetables and avoid eating them; however, in case of Lachanophobes, the dislike or hatred actually turns into a full blown panic attack at the mere sight or thought of vegetables.
Lachanophobic individuals naturally try to avoid vegetable aisles in grocery stores and even refrain from picking up or touching veggies at any cost. Lachanophobia can also be further divided into sub types based on fear of specific vegetables; for example, the fear of mushrooms is called lachanophobia mycosis etc.
While the fear of vegetables is one of the strangest fears in the world; for people suffering from it, it is no laughing matter. Their day-to-day life tends to be affected negatively not to mention the lack of nutrition and ill-health effects they suffer owing to their fear.
Causes of Lachanophobia
In Great Britain alone, it is estimated that nearly 13% of the people suffer from some phobia or other. The root cause of all these phobias is usually a deeply rooted negative experience related to the object they dread.
- In case of the extreme fear of vegetables, the phobic usually develops the fear in childhood, which then persists into adulthood as well. A child might have choked on peas or carrots or even might have had a life threatening reaction to some veggies as a result of which the mere sight of that particular vegetable on the food plate leads to a crying fit.
- Even watching caregiver or parent show disgust to certain veggies can cause the child to learn to have a similar response. In fact; the fear of vegetables is actually known to run in families.
- Vegetables are good for us and they provide us with nutrition in the form of minerals and vitamins. But to a person with an intense fear of vegetables, they appear as objects that are ‘dirty, unhealthy and downright scary’. This is usually the result of a deeply conditioned response which becomes a pattern which is hard to change.
- Another cause of Lachanophobia is stress which leads to anxiety which then manifests in the form of fears. A person who is also already suffering from various anxiety disorders or phobias (fear of eating, fear of choking, fear of gagging or vomiting or fear of death etc) can also suffer from Lachanophobia.
- Some vegetables have a strange texture; still others tend to have a bad smell or offensive taste or smell especially after cooking. All these factors can also contribute to fear of vegetables since the individual might have gagged due to it.
Symptoms of fear of vegetables
The fear of vegetables can manifest itself in different forms based on the intensity of the fear.
- Some people tend to shake, sweat, cry or run away at the sight of veggies. This is called as an anxiety or panic attack. Many tend to gag, vomit or experience other forms of gastro intestinal distress at the mere sight of vegetables.
- Majority of the adult Lachanophobes might be afraid of specific vegetables only. For example, some might be able to tolerate potatoes; still others might not be able to handle any vegetable. In some cases, even objects resembling a vegetable can evoke a disgust/fear response in the sufferer.
- When coupled with love for animals, the Lachanophobic individuals also tend to avoid meat apart from veggies and, as a result, have to depend on starchy foods for their calorie needs. This can lead to diseases like scurvy, as well as other nutritional deficiencies.
- Activities like cooking or eating out (at other people’s home or in restaurants) or even a trip to the grocery store can be difficult for such people.
Often the phobic’s family and friends do not understand or empathize with this fear. They think the phobic is ‘making things up’. This causes the sufferers to feel even more isolated. They also feel powerless to control their fear.
Overcoming the fear of vegetables
If your Lachanophobia is affecting your relationships, health or even your day-to-day life, it is best to seek professional treatment for it. Talk therapy, Psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy and neuro linguistic programming are some options available today for getting over the fear of vegetables once and for all.
Gradual exposure to vegetables as well as desensitization therapies can both help the sufferers change their response to vegetables through repeated gradual exposure. Apart from these, self help remedies can also help – these typically include meditation, positive visualization or even talking to loved ones about their fears. One can also join self help groups which focus on positive expression to overcome Lachanophobia once and for all.