Yes, The Fear Of Vegetables Is A Real Thing

Do you suffer from a phobia — a "persistent, excessive, unrealistic fear" of something (per Harvard Health)? You're far from alone. Everyone's probably encountered or at least heard of the person that freaks out when they see a spider, panics when they're at high elevations, or refuses profusely to go in the water. These are commonly held fears that people have become accustomed to, like being afraid of clowns, snakes, or the dark. In fact, 19 million US citizens suffer from a phobia to some degree (per Johns Hopkins). But some fears are more prevalent and, therefore, more "acceptable" than others. 

What if you tremble at the sight of a classic Nicoise salad or squirm as you drive past a cornfield? You may not realize it, but if broccoli sends you into a deeply uneasy state, carrots make you tremble in fear, or a radish renders you panic-stricken, you may suffer from a valid but very unusual food phobia. And no, you are not just a picky eater who hates consuming their veggies. There is, in fact, a phobia of vegetables. It's called lachanophobia.

The sight of a vegetable might cause sufferers to panic

While simply possessing a dislike for fresh produce does not qualify as lachanophobia, having anxiety when faced with your greens might. People with phobias tend to avoid the objects of their fear or endure them with great stress (via Healthline). Therefore, someone with a phobia of veggies would likely avoid all contact with veggies, refusing to look at them, touch them, and perhaps especially eat them. So how can you tell if you suffer from an actual fear and not simply a distaste for all things green? 

According to Harvard Health, phobias will cause significant anxiety and distress and are a type of anxiety disorder. In 2009, the Daily Mail spoke with a 22-year-old woman who suffered from lachanophobia. She explained that whenever she saw a vegetable, "I would get feelings of panic, start sweating and my heart rate would shoot up." Another sufferer told VegNews, "It's the taste and texture. It makes me gag as soon as I put it in my mouth. I don't even like things that have touched broccoli." In a society that emphasizes healthy eating and opting for vegetable-based proteins, avoiding produce could be extremely difficult. 

A food phobia can deprive sufferers of valuable nutrients

Lachanophobia sounds like the kind of thing that could turn seemingly innocuous everyday activities into sources of great stress. After all, veggies are everywhere. Whether you're going out with a friend who orders a broccoli stir fry for lunch, driving past a local vegetable stand, or navigating the sometimes disturbing realities of a grocery store's produce department, it's tricky to avoid vegetables completely.  And, even if a sufferer manages to avoid the source of their anxiety, as Healthline points out, food phobias can pose a real threat to someone's health. If you're not eating vegetables, you are denying yourself their valuable nutrients. 

How does someone develop a phobia? The Mayo Clinic states that there are a few possible reasons for these, fears including a negative past experience, learned behavior from a parent, genetics, or brain function. The good news is that there are methods for treating and eradicating phobias. John Hopkins Medicine lists cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy as possible techniques that a professional may use. The first step is seeking the help of a medical provider.