Therapies using real food

I've been laughing for the past weeks at the articles about new Virtual reality food could be used in therapy for eating disorders some Italian research.

Part of this is laughing through the pain at references to eating disorders as "unhealthy eating habits" and "unhealthy relationship with food" which comically and tragically understate the case.

I find the following hysterical:

"Therapies using real food are not always successful as they can ascorbate (!!) the problem and create even more anxiety.

By using virtual reality you can slowly build up their confidence around food before eventually reintroducing them to real thing"

I'm a big fan of using "exposure and response prevention," "desensitization" and other techniques so well established in the treatment of OCD and phobia. I'm excited about the prospects of virtual reality and other technologies in treatment.

But for pity's sake: not as a replacement or a delay in the real thing!

We have six opportunities a day for real exposure therapy: meals and snacks. Is it hard? Heck, yeah. But the food isn't a problem to be delayed. The brain health the patient needs to face and overcome the phobia is in that food.

I hate to diss a wonderfully geeky approach but may I suggest we focus our attention on methods of keeping the patient at the real table and not another way to show that we're less able to tolerate their anxiety than they are?

Perhaps we could load up the program with exposures to the following instead:

  • Choosing foods at a buffet surrounded by people moaning about how much they want but should not eat.
  • Aunt Sally describing her cleansing diet during Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Track practice where the coach tells everyone to eat a salad for dinner and that vomiting during the race is normal.
  • Diet commercials, exercise equipment infomercials, and public service BMI calculation instructions.
Hey - I could use a trial at that therapy. Those things scare me more than a bathtub of snakes!


  1. excerbate I know that word because I type it too often for my doctors Ascorbate is that related to vitamin

  2. Amen to your proposed revisions to the "program"!!


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