A young woman who lived on a diet of chips all her life has finally overcome her fears of normal food after being hypnotised.
Hanna Little, 20, had to leave her job on an assembly line after she fainted twice because of her poor diet.
Dinner with friends was impossible and Hanna would have to call ahead to restaurants to ensure chips were on the menu.
The former Truro College and Penair School student went to London to seek help from the BBC Three television show Freaky Eaters therapist, Felix Economakis, and came back cured.
Hanna said: “If we went out anywhere it would be chips, nothing else. We had to check the menu before we went anywhere to make sure they had chips.
“I think I can eat chips because they’re just plain. It was the idea of different flavours mixing together which really freaked me out.”
After a lifetime of being thought of as a fussy eater Hanna discovered a page on social networking site Facebook dedicated to people with selective eating disorder that she immediately recognised as her condition.
She became aware of the work of Mr Economakis through the site and, with help from her mother, made an appointment to go to his clinic in London.
She said: “We had a long chat about my history with food and the problem and what I wanted to do to change it.”
Hanna was then hypnotised and, after a two-hour session, cured of her life-long affliction.
“I had mangoes – that was the first thing I tried,” said Hanna. “It went down really well and they are my favourite fruit now.
“Every day I try something new and I like it. It’s overpowering because I know I can do it and I had never been able to before.”
Hanna’s freedom from food phobias has also paid dividends in her love life, now sharing romantic meals with a new boyfriend.
“We started dating when I came back from London,” she said. “The best thing is having dinner at his house because that was always tricky before.”
Mr Economakis, a chartered psychologist, said the problem of food phobias was rampant and needed to be seen as more than somebody just being fussy.
He said: “Phobias can exist for absolutely anything, from the number 13 to a beard, so of course people have them with food. This is a proper, intense, terrifying phobia.”
He said he used hypnotherapy to unlock the subconscious and work with the phobia directly, adding: “It’s really common,I get dozens of e-mails from people who have selective eating disorder. Doctors don’t know about it and I’m really glad a case like this is raising awareness.”