Man who's only eaten macaroni and cheese for 17 years explains why
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Warning: This article contains details about eating disorders some readers may find triggering
A man has revealed he has spent the last 17 years of his life eating macaroni and cheese.
Austin Davis, a 20-year-old man from Florida, has explained his day-to-day life - including his dinner - in a short documentary by Vice.
He lives with his grandparents, Richard and Fay, in a small town called Keystone Heights, northeast of Gainesville.
In one scene, Davis visits a grocery store with the documentary crew and says nothing else on the shelves excites his taste buds, while the raw meat section is a ‘hellscape’ and he’s unfamiliar with most vegetables.
The only thing he’ll buy for himself when at the store is Velveeta macaroni and cheese because it’s the most ‘consistent’ and ‘always tastes pretty much the same’.
“I don’t wanna say I’m addicted to mac and cheese because it sounds so weird, but my body wont let me eat anything else,” he said.
“I didn’t choose to be like this.”
The young man has a large cupboard stacked with macaroni and cheese boxes at home and in the documentary, he's filmed as he whips up a pot of his go-to dish before eating his ‘comfort food’ at his desk while watching YouTube.
He knows he has a problem and even said he’s ‘sick of it', but doesn’t want to open up his diet to anything else.
“When I try to eat new foods, the first thing that happens is like blinders on the food," Davis explained.
"It gets to the point where it’s like somehow in my hand, I’m about to eat it like, as soon as it enters my mouth, it’s just like a sensory overload of all the things – ‘this is the texture, this is consistency, this is how it feels in your mouth, oh God there’s the taste and there’s a bunch of new flavours that you’ve never experienced before,' even if I like what I’m trying, I’ll still have this involuntary gag."
He then added: “If I don’t like it, sometimes I’m actually [I’ve] just straight-up thrown up like, on the spot.”
While his diet may seem like a dream for cheese lovers, for Davis there’s a much deeper and emotional meaning stemming from his childhood.
Davis suffers from Selective Eating Disorder, which is also called Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID).
It’s an anxiety disorder characterised by the persistent refusal to eat specific foods or to eat any type of food due to a negative response from certain sensory characteristics of that food.
In Davis' case, he's grossed out by the thought of blood in raw meat.
It’s not unusual for children to go through a phase of picky eating, in which they have very little interest in eating food and ARFID usually begins in the early years.
Unlike anorexia and bulimia, which is more common in girls, ARFID is more common in boys.
Davis was, understandably, relieved when he got his diagnosis: “I’m not crazy, it has a name! The thing that’s been hanging over my head."
He also opened up about his difficult upbringing in the documentary, describing his dad as being ‘really awesome sometimes and sometimes he was not so awesome’, before admitting his dad would get ‘physical’.
Davis was eventually removed from the home by the Department of Children and Families, and he explained how he developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the situation at home and found comfort in macaroni and cheese after learning how to make it himself, meaning it was one of the few things in his life he could control.
He has begin seeing a therapist and hopes to expand his pallet in the future.
If you've been affected by any of the issues in this story, you can speak in confidence about where to get help from Mind free on 0300 123 3393, 9am–6pm Monday to Friday
If you would like to speak with someone in confidence, call the BEAT Eating Disorders helpline on 0808 801 0677. Helplines are open 365 days a year from 9am–8pm during the week, and 4pm–8pm on weekends and bank holidays. Alternatively, you can try the one-to-one webchat