Cibophobia or fear of food is a relatively complicated phobia that can rapidly spiral into an obsession.


A phobia is a deep, irrational fear about a specific thing or situation. It can cause a number of symptoms, including panic, shortness of breath, and dry mouth. Phobias are not uncommon. In a matter of fact, several million people experience phobias so severe, that it impacts their lives in significant ways.

Individuals with eating disorders such as anorexia may avoid food because they worry about the effect it can have on their bodies. For example, they are fearful eating food will lead to weight gain. People with this phobia are sometimes mistakenly thought to suffer from anorexia, which is another dangerous eating disorder.

An anorexic

However, there is a difference between these two conditions. Those with anorexia fear the effects of food on body image, while those with Cibophobia are actually afraid of the food itself. Unfortunately, some people suffer from both disorders.

Some people with an eating disorder may ultimately develop Cibophobia, but it is important to note these are two separate conditions.

Cibophobia (from Latin cibus, “food”)

Cibophobia is defined as the fear of food. People with Cibophobia often avoid food and drinks because They’re afraid of the food itself. The fear may be specific to one type of food, such as perishable foods, or it may include many foods.

Food phobia symptoms.

Lightheadedness is also a symptom of Cibophobia

People who have a food phobia may experience the following symptoms:

  • elevated blood pressure
  • trembling or shaking
  • pounding or racing heartbeat
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • chest tightness
  • dry mouth
  • upset stomach
  • rapid speech or a sudden inability to talk
  • heavy sweating
  • lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • vomiting

People with a food phobia may have a fear of almost all food and beverages, or their fear may be more specific. The following foods commonly generate a phobia:

Perishable foods.

An array of perishables

Cibophobes are fearful of foods like mayonnaise, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, and meats because most times, they believe the foods are already spoiled. They also fear that they may become ill after eating these kinds of food.

Under cooked foods.

A fear of food borne illness may drive some people to avoid foods that can be dangerous if undercooked. People may also overcook these foods to the point that they are burnt or incredibly dry.

Expiration dates.

People with Cibophobia may be fearful of foods that are near or past their expiration dates. They may also believe foods expire more quickly once they are opened.

Prepared food.

Prepared food with leftovers

When people with a food phobia are not in control of preparing their own food, they may be fearful about what food is served to them. Cibophobes may avoid eating at a restaurant, a friends house, or anywhere they cannot see or control the food preparations.


Some individuals with Cibophobia wont eat leftovers. This is because they believe it might make them sick.

Cibophobia complications

Your social life can suffer as a result of Cibophobia

Phobias that are left untreated can lead to significant impairment. If Cibophobia is not properly managed, it may begin to interfere with school, work, personal relationships, and social life. These complications can occur with almost any phobia, not just Cibophobia.

Other complications that result from this condition includes:

Obsessive rituals

Some people with phobias create detailed routines in an attempt to reduce anxiety. These routines may include how they clean their kitchen or store their food.


In the case of Cibophobia, not eating many foods can greatly reduce the amount of nutrients that are absorbed. Over time, this can lead to malnutrition and other health problems.

Social stigma

It is often difficult for people with a food phobia to hide it from friends, family, and co-workers. This can lead to awkward and uncomfortable questions. As a result, Cibophobes may avoid social engagements to prevent these interactions.


Seek professional help

It is very important to seek treatment from a qualified mental health professional. The most common treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy, in which you will learn to change both your beliefs and your behaviors regarding food.

Other treatment methods such as medications, hypnosis, and several forms of talk therapy can help you create a more positive relationship with food.

Treatment may also involve desensitization. This is a process in which the feared food is gradually introduced to the sufferer, until they are no longer scared of eating that particular food.


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