Summer Monro, who is only able to eat a limited diet of chicken nuggets, chips, and fries, suffers from what is called an Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake (ARFID) disorder.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, ARFID is characterized by an “apparent lack of interest in eating or food; avoidance based on the sensory characteristics of food; concern about aversive consequences of eating.” Monro, 25, believes that her disorder was triggered when she was convinced to eat mashed potatoes when she was three.
Since then, the British woman has only been able to eat chicken nuggets, Walker potato chips, and French fries, and she says that the sight of fruits and vegetables can cause her to vomit.
“My grandad obviously wants me to eat more. He offered me a grand to eat one garden pea and I couldn’t do it.”
Monro has tried in the past to do therapy and hypnotherapy to get over her ARFID disorder but has said she can’t see how she could get over her food phobia.
“All I eat is Birds Eye chicken nuggets or crisps. My weight fluctuates with what I eat. I have tried to try fruit and veg, I tried to eat some apples, but I physically can’t. It’s not that I don’t want to try. It just makes me feel sick – there’s a part of my brain that physically won’t let me do it.”
She says that she struggles to be interested at mealtimes.
“I’m really bored; I don’t get excited to eat,” she said. “It’s worse at lunchtime when people are eating sandwiches and I have a packet of crisps. I just can’t see myself changing. I like the smell of food but if I try to eat it, it makes me physically sick. It puts a lot of pressure on me. My heart tells me I want to eat it but my brain says no. As soon as it touches my lips, I can’t do it.”
Monro told LADbible that she doesn’t find that her eating disorder disrupts her life very much.
The project manager from Cambridge told LADbible that for three months in 2021 she wasn’t able to even eat chicken nuggets after she found a vein in one of them. Despite her eating disorder, Monro says that she doesn’t feel lethargic, and her doctors have run blood tests that show that she is otherwise perfectly healthy.
Monro and her partner Dean McKnight, 26, have to cook their meals separately, and when they go out to dinner, she is limited the majority of the time to eating a bowl of fries.
“My partner takes it really well. When we first met, I didn’t tell him about ARFID and we were walking around town looking for a restaurant and I ended up having to tell him because I kept saying NO.”
Although Monro doesn’t see a way of overcoming her ARFID disorder, she said that she is otherwise perfectly fine. She is happy and upbeat, and she says people don’t understand how she can have so much energy given her restricted diet.