Food Can't Touch Other Food?  --- What
This Says About You
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Get Lean Diet for Men

October 13, 2017
By Susan Callahan, Contributing Columnist

Have this ever happened t you? You're serving someone a plate of food
when they suddenly screw their faces up and say, please don't let the
beans touch the meat?  Or, don't let the bread touch the potatoes or
any other food? My niece is like this. She will not eat a plate of food if
one food touches another.  What is this phenomenon? Why do some
people object to food touching other food? And ow many people have
this aversion to food touching other food?

The Hidden Phenomenon of Brumotactillophobia

"Brumotactillophobia" is the awkward-to-pronounce medical name for
this aversion to food cross-touching. Psychologists from Pennsylvania
who have studied the problem regard it as a form of obsessive
compulsive disorder.

But what is behind the compulsion? When you break down the
behavior, you have to ask, "why is it bad for one food to touch

Is Fear of Contamination Behind Food Separation?

The answer may not be a fear of contamination.

Let's consider a plate pf scrambled eggs with a piece of toast on the
plate.  If you believe that eggs will contaminate bread if they touch
when they are both on the same plate, then why would you eat the
eggs at all? In people who strictly separate their food, they eat each of
the foods on their plate, they just simply have to make sure they don't

So, it's not likely that cross-contamination is at the bottom of
phenomenon of food separation.

No, something else must be at work.

Is Hyper-Neatness The Reason?

Have you ever watched Rafael Nadal play tennis? The current Number
One player in the world and the 10-time winner of the French Open is
legendary not only for his tennis skills but for his on-court OCD habits.

For example, when he's sitting down during a break on court, he
carefully lines us two bottles of fluids, once containing some sort of
sports drinks and the other containing water.  He gently places each
bottle in a precise configuration after he finishes drinking.

This kind of adherence to precision and pattern can be seen as a need
for control.  It may, for example, be a way to settle your nerves when
the world is watching you perform.

Or, it could be a way to "cue" a feeling of mastery. The cue could
trigger other emotions such as feelings of competence, calm and
remembrance of routines.  In other words, it could acts like an
emotional crib sheet, an easy way to remember, to remind yourself of a
set of good traits you have.

Patterns Are Reassuring...Until They're Not

Whether it's separating food one from the other or lining up your
bottles in a precise pattern on a tennis court, the simple truth is that
you are using patterns.  Patterns can be reassuring. That is, until the
day that you realize that you cannot break the pattern.

On the day you realize that you cannot break the pattern, what you
used to think of as reassuring can suddenly feel as if it is a controlling
master. You suddenly stop feeling as if the pattern helps yo maintain
control and instead begin to feel as if you are now being "jailed" by the
pattern.  The pattern now has the upper hand.

How you react to the discovery that you're not in control will depend a
lot on your personality. Some of us can't tolerate not being in control.
We fight against the boundaries. But others of us actually are
comforted by giving up control. It feels freeing and safe to cede control
to someone else.

There are no judgements to be made.

If you find that keeping food separate makes you feel better, then you
are using the pattern to your advantage.

If you find that keeping food separate makes you feel freakish, then
you need to see it as a pattern that has climbed on top of you. You can
work on renegotiating the power back from that pattern.

Does Mixing Food Make You Gag?

For some people, the aversion to mixed food is so strong that eating
such food actually makes them gag.  Some scientists believe that this
strong repulsion for mixed food might have an evolutionary basis.

It could be that, when we were cave dwellers and didn't know which
plants were poisonous, that introducing a new plant to our safe food
would produce a nasty surprise or even death.  This might have
instilled in some of us the gag reflex against mixed food.

You might be able to slowly change this aversion in small steps. The
first step would be to eat each food separately as you now do but to
reduce the time between bites.  Each very small bites and wait 10
seconds before you introduce the second food.

As the time shortens, you will eventually reach a point where both
foods are in your mouth at the same time.

Swallowing then both will be the next step.

Eventually, you will have retrained your brain to accept both foods not
only in your mouth at the same time but also on your plate mixed at the
same time.

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People who can't let some foods touch
others may have mild OCD.

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