You might not be able to believe it’s true, but there are a lot of people out there who don’t eat fruit. They either don’t like it or they are afraid of it. When you realise that fruit is the ripened ovaries of a seed-bearing plant, you might be able to see why the some people are a little hesitant to wolf it down.
Fruitophobia was brought to my attention in 1998 when I met Tim W, a seemingly normal and healthy young man who won’t eat fruit. Although the rest of us (alright, mostly me) tease him and say his aversion is caused by a sexual phobia, Tim maintains that he just doesn’t like the taste and texture. Since all fruits have different tastes and textures, I don’t buy that. Besides, it’s more fun to pretend he has a psycho-sexual problem.
But to be fair, I’ve let Tim explain himself in his own words. This is Tim’s story:
Q: Is it true that you don't like fruit?
A: I really dislike fruit immensely.
Q: What is it about fruit that you don't like?
A: The smell and the texture. Nothing about it is appealing as a food. Smelling a piece of fruit just makes me feel ill. There is no doubt in my mind after smelling something like that that I WILL NOT eat it.
Q: How long has it been like this?
A: I must have been 5 or 6 yrs old. I remember deciding that it just wasn't as good as everyone was making out.
Q: If you liked fruit when you were small, what happened to change it?
A: I am not sure what made me change. I do remember deciding that I didn't like it though, I even went and announced it to my Mum.
Q: Did your parents ever force you to eat it?
A: Once my Mum made me sit at the kitchen table with a peach and I wasn't allowed to leave the table until I finished it. I waited her out and I never had to eat fruit again.
Q: Which fruits have you tried?
A: All of them. Apparently as a little kid I liked [fruit] a great deal and I was addicted to apple juice, but the only times I remember are the time with the peach and another time when we were all eating watermelon and I thought it was just gross. I have to say though that I am a lover of avocado, lemon and tomato and they are all technically fruits. However they have a very different texture and smell.
Q: Do you believe your dislike is psychological rather than physical?
A: Well I think all likes and dislikes are psychological. I wish I could understand why I don't like it. I have gotten over all the other things I didn't like as a child (fish, sport, brussel sprouts) but for some reason fruit still disturbs and disgusts me.
Q: It is said that people's taste buds change and develop every seven years or so and that things you've liked before you won't like anymore and vice versa. Care to comment on this in relation to your fruit aversion?
A: Well I could one day turn around and decide to eat fruit. I don't eat fruit just because I have never eaten fruit, if you know what I mean. Fruit is not something I can escape and I always have opportunities to try it. Each time though I still get turned off.
Q: I seem to recall hearing a story about you, a strawberry and a violent stomach reaction. Care to elaborate?
A: The strawberry? Well I accidentally drank someone's alcohol at a party when I was 18. The friend, who I had inadvertently taken the grog from, made me promise to do something the next day without telling me what it was. Being the nice (and guilt ridden) guy that I am, I agreed. The next day he made me eat a whole strawberry. This was in front of all my friends and, yes, I had a violent stomach reaction. Having said that though I must also say that I had drank a great deal of alcohol the night before, not slept and then gone to a champagne breakfast the next morning. The strawberry was probably the first bit of solid food I had eaten in 18 hours or so. I was very, very sick.
Q: Do you ever feel like you're missing out on anything by not eating fruit?
A: Not ever, although I get told I am all the time.
Q: Have you ever eaten fruit by mistake? If so, how did you realise and how did it make you feel?
A: Violated. I have accidentally eaten pineapple in some East Asian food. When will people realise that pineapple is terrible in anything sweet and sour. Yuck!!
Q: Have friends and family ever pressured you to eat fruit? How does this make you feel?
A: I don't succumb. In fact I probably hold fast even more when I am hassled.
Q: Which fruit tastes the worse?
Q: Which fruits smell the worse?
Q: Which fruits look the worse?
A: Almost all look good. It is the smell and taste that is the turn off.
Q: Which fruits feel the worse?
A: Probably any fruit that has gone off. That has to be the most disgusting feeling in the world.
Q: Which fruits come across your path the most (i.e. which fruits are most commonly in things and prevent you from eating them)?
Q: Which fruits do people commonly forget are fruits and try to serve them to you?
A: Strawberries. People just can't believe I don't like them even when they know about my dislike of fruit.
Q: Do you feel awkward at dinner parties when people serve fruit?
A: Initially I did but I just have to stand by my beliefs. If I don't want to eat it I don't have to. Vegetarians are missing out on sustenance by not eating meat as I am sure I am with fruit, but they also have the right not to eat it.
Q: If you've going over to someone's house for dinner do you warn them in advance that you don't like fruit? How do they respond?
A: Well, no you can't do that [warn people in advance]. Sometimes I just have to grin and bear it. Other times I just say no thanks. Often it doesn't go down too well but I just can't go through with it.
Q: Why don't you tell people in advance? If it's because you think it's rude to warn them, don't you think it's ruder not to eat something they've put effort into preparing rather than tell them honestly up front and let them decide?
A: Well, maybe you are right. Not eating fruit is very much a personal choice as is not eating meat or dairy, but to be honest I am in a very small minority and one that many people have not or will not ever come across. A great deal of people a generation above just think I am stupid or immature. They are probably right.
Q: Do you think it's easy to cook without using fruit?
A: Very easy. I dislike cooked fruit even more than fresh.
Q: What would you like to say to other people who also don't like fruit?
A: Well I have met two others and they are lovely people with healthy bodies. Stay strong brother and sister.
Q: What would you like to say to the people who think you're being silly and who would tell you to stop whinging and start eating fruit?
A: Go hassle a vegetarian instead.