At 7 and 5 years old, my sons are notoriously picky eaters. There are times when it seems like between the two of them, they basically live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bowls of Kraft macaroni and cheese. Their many food refusals can be a source of deep frustration for me (who the hell is afraid of trying an orange?), but now that I've read about this British teenager's addiction to packaged ramen noodles, I'm realizing that things in our household aren't quite so bad.
Georgi Readman is an 18-year-old girl from Shanklin, Isle of Wight, and she doesn't just prefer ramen noodles -- she eats them every single day. While it may sound like a funny quirk, her noodle obsession is actually caused by a serious condition called Selective Eating Disorder, and it's affecting her health in a number of drastic ways.
Readman eats up to nine packets of inexpensive chicken ramen every week, which translates to 30 miles of noodles a year. Her all-noodle diet started when she was around 7 years old, after becoming an increasingly fussy eater. At age 8, she suffered a bout of food poisoning, and that's the point when her food preferences officially tipped over to a Selective Eating Disorder.
I have such a big issue with fruit or veg because I hate the texture. When I try and eat it I go into panic and get the sweats, and then start heaving when I try to swallow. I can't go round my friends' for dinner or go out for meals with them because I don't want them to see me freak out if the side salad touches the stuff I do eat. (...) Since (my food poisoning) I've been really afraid of being sick and that's why I can only eat certain things.
She's underweight, has no energy, her immune system is fragile, and she hasn't been able to put on enough weight to fulfill her dream of being a professional horse jockey.
In some ways it's hard for me to wrap my head around this girl's problem -- it's like when my kids freak out about trying something new, and I just feel like, really? REALLY, you're creating this much drama over a bite of [whatever]?
But clearly this fear of non-ramen-based foods is a legitimate issue for Readman, and one she's working on through cognitive behavioral therapy. I can't even imagine how exhausted and crappy her body must feel, living on processed noodles day in and day out.
As she puts it,
I hate having to put up with this all day every day. My dream is to eat healthily and put on weight.
For her sake, I truly hope she's able to do so.
Have you heard of such an extreme food phobia before?
Image via Cam Switzer/Flickr