A woman who lives on chicken nuggets has revealed her phobia of fruit and vegetables is so bad, she turned down £1,000 in cash to avoid eating a single pea.
Summer Monro suffers from avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), which is characterised by the person avoiding certain foods.
The 25-year-old believes it was triggered when she was forced to eat mash potato when she was three, the one thing she didn’t like at the time.
Since then, she can only stomach Birds Eye chicken nuggets, Walkers crisps and chips, and even just the sight of fruit or veg is enough to make her gag.
Summer, a project coordinator from Cambridge, said: "All I eat is Birds Eye chicken nuggets or crisps. My weight fluctuates with what I eat.
"I have tried to try fruit and veg, I tried to eat some apple but I physically can't. It's not that I don't want to try. It just makes me feel sick - there's a part of my brain that physically won't let me do it.”
Summer has tried therapy and hypnotherapy in a bid to overcome her ARFID, but admits she struggles to see a way to overcome her phobia.
"My granddad obviously wants me to eat more. He offered me a grand to eat one garden pea and I couldn't do it,” she added.
"I'm really bored, I don't get excited to eat. It's worse at lunchtime when people are eating sandwiches and I have a packet of crisps.
"I just can't see myself changing. I like the smell of food but if I try to eat it, it makes me physically sick.
"It puts a lot of pressure on me. My heart tells me I want to eat it but my brain says no. As soon as it touches my lips, I can't do it."
Speaking about the origins of the disorder, Summer said: "It started when I was about three. I would eat everything but one thing I didn't like was mashed potato.
"Someone forced me to eat mashed potato and that's where it all started. The things I eat now are crispy or crunchy.
"I can only eat thin fries and they have to be really crispy. Even when I cook chicken nuggets, I have to make them crispy."
Even her go-to meal isn’t always a safe bet, having avoided chicken nuggets for three months last year after discovering a vein in one of them.
Despite her restricted eating habits, Summer explained: "It doesn't affect me physically but it does mentally. I don't feel lethargic or anything and I've had blood tests but they're all fine.”
It also impacts her life with partner Dean McKnight, 26, as the pair have to cook two separate meals a day and Summer can only eat a bowl of thin chips when they go out for dinner.
Summer said: "My partner takes it really well. When we first met, I didn't tell him about ARFID and we were walking around town looking for a restaurant and I ended up having to tell him because I kept saying no.
"When his parents visit, they make all these amazing meals and I can't eat any of them.”
Although she struggles to see a way out, Summer described how everything outside of her diet is good:
"A lot of people say they're surprised that I'm never ill. I'm also a very upbeat, happy person and people don't understand how I've got so much energy.”
Here’s hoping one day Summer can find the help she needs and overcome her food phobia.
Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Topics: Food And Drink