Wednesday 17 May 2006

tim’s story: the life of a fruitophob

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?
A: Banana.

Q: Which fruits smell the worse?
A: Mango.

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)?
A: Sultanas.

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.


  1. Ah Tim Tam, he cracks me up!!!

  2. Good to know there are some more persons in the world that do not like fruit.
    I am 58 now and I have never liked or eaten fruit all my life. They give me the feeling that they are a rotten vegetable.
    I dont eat or like raw tomatoes either for the same reason. But I like ketchup
    I like nuts like almonds and walnuts etc. though
    I am perfectly healthy ,perhaps because i make sure to include salad in diet. I think it is essential to include something uncooked in food.

  3. I can't believe there are other people out there who don't eat fruit. I am terrified of eating fruit. The smell and look of it crawls my blood and I honestly can't be within 4 feet of anyone eating a fruit. The smell makes me sick to my stomach. People tell me all the time i'm going to die young because I need the nutrients in fruit. I just can't do it and i've been this way for as long as I remember.

  4. My nearly 6 yr old daughter stopped eating fruit at 10months old, after a bout of gastro. She has tried it since being the good girl that she is, but has never gone back for a second try. She has never eaten lollies or sweets that are fruit flavoured, she wont eat tomato either. As medicines for kids are always fruit flavoured this has been very difficult. She will eat avocado. She will not eat yogurt even plain or vanilla flavoured but loves other dairy products.
    We are all vegetarians too. I have just found out about one other person not eating fruit after a bout of gastro. and years ago found out that my doctors son who was raised a vegetarian never ate any fruit either..,Hope this helps others... I wonder if there is something to the gastro thing.....

  5. I can't believe there are others out there! I have not liked fruit since I was 4 and I have no idea why. The smell puts me off, the taste and the texture.
    I'm actually really embarrassed about it because anytime I am near fruit I feel like I'm going to be sick. I stress out before dinner parties and I don't tell people. I usually just say I'm not hungry or I don't like that particular fruit.
    I also have a questions for ashok - do you have children? Because I know I want children someday and my mum says that I can't have children if I don't eat fruit because I have to set an example for them. What do you think?

  6. I too am a fruitophobe! My "fruit issue" as I call it, is a little different. I haven't liked fruit since I was a child. It grosses me out. Especially when others are eating it. People who love me DO NOT eat fruit around me. I can eat some types of fruit, but only if no one else is around, and if no one else has touched it. I think my issue is psychological rather than physiological. But I have no clue why I feel so strongly about this. When I tell people about it they think its funny or weird, but they respect it. I'd rather tell people than suffer through some disgusting and difficult encounter with fruit!

    When my children were young I somehow was able to feed them fruit. I guess I put their need above my comfort during that time. Probably a maternal/mother thing - it only lasted until they could choose fruit on their own, away from me.

    I'm very happy to learn that others have this issue as well. I want to know why we/I have it. I'd love to hear more from others.

  7. I found this interview by chance, and reading it I thought that I was the person who was answering the questions! The "problem" started when I was 3-4 years old, I don't even remember it. I dislike anything about fruits, their taste, their smell, to touch them, even seeing other people eating it.

  8. I came across this posting after googling "aversion to fruit". Although I don't know of a name for it, I know it has to be a condition. My specific aversion is to uncooked fruits or vegetables. The taste, smell or sight of fruits and vegetables does not bother me, it is the texture.

    As a child I recall eating bananas, then finally deciding I didn't like them any more. I think I just became aware of what it was that I was eating. To me it was a plant, fiberus, grown in dirt and not to be consumed.

    I can eat, and enjoy, potatoes (cooked of course), catchup, salsa, marinera sauce, and certain dips. The taste is not the main issue, nor is the smell. It is the texture. Celery is probably one of the scariest vegetables out there. How do you eat it? It crunches and squishes out water into your mouth. There is no clean bite you can take to a raw branch celery. And there is no taste either. Carrots - blach! It reminded me of eating a wooden table leg.

    Fruits or vegetables seem more like a foreign object than a source of nutrients. Why bother? Seems like torcher to me. I'd soon enough chew on the side of a tree trunk.

    I've been brave enough to taste many fruits and none of them have lived up to what everyone claims that I am "missing out on". I prefer the artificial stuff.

    All in all, however, I am envious of those who can enjoy salad and those who don't have to think "what are my options" when dinning out. I'm not ashamed of my condition, but I do wish I knew more about it, and why I am the way I am.

  9. husbands thinks i'm being stubborn and 'strange' when i refuse to eat fruits. i can't stand it..the smell the yucky texture. i've been this way since i was about 6-7. not sure what triggered it.

  10. Fruitophob? Ah, there's a name for us. I'm 57, do not miss never eating fruit although I think it would be fun to enjoy raw fruit, like an apple or banana. To me, it tastes too sweet, sets my teeth 'on edge,' simply doesn't taste good. Not wild about the texture either, by the way. I have no other aversions to food, just fruit. Have three children, three grandchildren, none share my peculiarity. Interesting to discover other fruitophobs.

  11. i can tell from all the people who keep leaving comments here over the years, fruitophobia is much more wide spread than i imagined!!!

  12. +1 here, im male, cant stand fruit since (thats a guess) ~8yo.

    I wouldn't eat Ketchup, too, but otherwise cooked tomatoes, like in tomato-soup or sauce are no problem at all.

    Funny thing, i do like Bruscetta, if the tomato-stuff on the bread isnt too..... fresh or something like processed in any way.

  13. It makes me feel quite comforted to know I'm not the only one :)
    I first refused to eat fruit when I was about 5. I remember my Mum bribing me to try and eat fruit, but if I took so much of a bite it would trigger my gag reflex.
    I feel bad, because I know it's good for you, so I have tried several times at every stage of my life to eat it/try it, but to no avail. My partner's Grandma served a cake which comprised of layers of fruit and cream for his birthday and everyone expected me to eat it. It was the worst experience; My eyes watered the whole time and I literally felt like I was being tortured in the worst way possible. I was incredibly nauseated all day.
    Several times I have tried it I have instantly puked. I don't want to be this way. I wish I could stand it. But the smell/taste/texture/even thought about it makes me sick. I cringe when I see anyone eating it ><'

  14. I'm not alone!! There is a group of us in this world who exist! i am 36 and hate ALL fruit and fruit juices. My Mom said it started as a child. The smell of a banana, the peel, and seeing someone squash it in their mouth completely disgusts me. I have taken the initiative to see a hypnotherapist this week. I WANT to eat fruit, instead I opt to snack on carbs and chocolates :(


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