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How to Cope with Neophobia in College

Generally, incoming college freshmen have difficulty adjusting to the dinning hall meals provided by Syracuse University. Now, imagine if you are a student who suffers from food neophobia and has a limited menu to begin with. Many people suffer from neophobia, an eating disorder that causes you to be afraid of new foods. This disorder can lead to malnutrition, and as a result, affect your daily functioning. Someone with neophobia can have panic attacks or be so repulsed by the new food that he or she will throw up.

Syracuse University sophomore Hailey New has suffered from neophobia since she was a child. When asked about the difficulties that accompany neophobia, she described how it would often cause problems at the dinner table.

“I had a set menu of meals I would eat as a kid and if [my parents] made something different, I would refuse to eat dinner that night. I would only eat chicken noodle soup, no other kind of soup. And peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but only if it was a certain brand of jam, I wouldn’t eat other jams. Gosh I was an annoying kid,” she said humorously. However, she had no idea that 25 percent of children and many adults suffer from neophobia. Many of those people go to the website to share their experiences with the disorder. According to an article ABC News wrote in 2010, the website has 7,000 members.

During her freshman year, Hailey shared her struggle with the dinning halls. “I lost 15 pounds when I first got to Sadler because I would only eat the green grapes and cereal they had. Food has to look and smell good to me, and it was so different so I said nope not eating any of this. They were all new brands of food too, that bothers me a lot.”

This can be a real nuisance when being away at college, so if you are a student or just anyone suffering from neophobia, here are some ways to ease your way through the difficulties.

  1. One at a time
    Don’t bombard yourself with new foods, because then you’ll just be freaked out. If you have something new that you want to try just try that and take it one food at a time.
  2. Try not to get frustrated
    Again, stay calm, because you don’t want to freak out and hate everything.
  3. Know that some foods will be easier than others
    Sweet or salty foods are best for trying new foods because they’re less sour and bitter.
  4. Sauces can sometimes help
    Putting a complementary dressing on it never hurts. Sometimes the food just needs a little extra flavoring added to it in order to be just right. However, that may cause you to become dependent on that flavoring in order to like the food.


By Destiny Reyes