The “Fear Food Challenge” is much more than just a filmed food challenge. This challenge is intended for people struggling with eating disorders. It pushes them to face their fear by eating the foods they fear the most. In addition to encouraging healing, this challenge promotes a healthier relationship with food.
Recently, on TikTok, an unusual trend emerged. Internet users take their smartphones and film themselves eating… their “fear food”. But unlike the wacky eating challenges we’re used to seeing, this challenge is not for everyone. Indeed, this challenge, called “Fear Food Challenge”, is specially designed to help people who struggle with eating disorders (TCA).
“Never give up on yourself”
In these videos, young women in recovery from eating disorders show courage by devouring the foods they fear most. These are often high-calorie dishes like a cheeseburger, a taco, or even a chocolate bar. An Internet user, for example, goes to a fast-food restaurant to enjoy a hot dog and accompanies her video with the message: “Never give up on yourself. Recovery is possible. And it’s worth it.” Comments from Internet users abound in admiration, highlighting the bravery of these young women. In other videos, young women draw lots, using small pieces of paper, for the dreaded food that they will eat in front of the camera. On TikTok, the hashtag #Fearfoodchallenge has more than 470 million views.
Never give up on yourself. Recovery is possible. And worth it. So f 🌭cking worth it.
♬ Dream Away – Ramol
Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa, are often accompanied by high anxiety related to certain foods, which triggers negative thoughts. Sufferers may be afraid that the food will cause weight gain or that it will break the strict rules they have set for themselves, such as excluding certain carbohydrates or fats. The “Fear Food Challenge” therefore offers a way to overcome these food fears and re-establish a healthier relationship with food.
This kind of challenge can be part of treatment for recovery from an eating disorder, as Dr. Jason Nagata, an eating disorder specialist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, explains to Mashable. He specifies that people in recovery or treatment feel a real and visceral fear of these foods. A crucial step in their recovery is being able to eat a variety of foods, including those that once caused anxiety.
“The first time you face any of these foods, I think your best chance for success is to do so with a licensed professional who is trained to support you“, however, notes the specialist who warns against the potential risks of media coverage of the challenge, in particular the derogatory comments or harassment that certain participants may suffer.