One schoolgirl, who had lived on chicken nuggets for over a decade, has overcome her fear of food.

Jessica Thompson (11 years old) is from Swindon in Wiltshire. She ate chicken nuggets all her life after she refused to try other foods when she was 18 months.

Julia Cain (49), a graphic designer from Michigan, is unsure what caused Jessica’s anxiety. Jessica received professional treatment in September and was diagnosed with Avoidant Restricted Food Intake Disorder.

ARFID patients develop a fear of the texture or smell of foods and refuse to eat them. 

Jessica now enjoys a delicious roast dinner after only a few weeks with her Hypnotherapist.

Jessica Thompson, 11, from Swindon, Wiltshire has only ever eaten chicken nuggets since she was 18 months old after developing a food phobia known as Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Jessica Thompson, 11, from Swindon, Wiltshire has only ever eaten chicken nuggets since she was 18 months old after developing a food phobia known as Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Her mother Julia, right, said Jessica would rather starve than eat anything other than chicken nuggets

Julia, Jessica’s mother right, told Jessica she would rather eat nothing but chicken nuggets than starve. 

Julia explained that Julia was simply eating all of her baby food while trying new foods.

“Then, it stopped and she would only eat chicken nuggets.

“She would eat three to four of the fries with her meal but never finish them.”

“She’d have just plain bread for lunch, and nothing else in it.”

The poultry enthusiast, pictured, has been seeing a hypnotherapist after her diagnosis and has finally eaten her first roast ever

After her diagnosis, the poultry lover has been going to a hypnotherapist and finally has her first ever roast. 

“As a family we never had Christmas dinner because Jessica wouldn’t even consider it.

She would enjoy a meal of nuggets every day, while one year she would indulge in a slice of toast.

People used to say “She’ll grow out of it” or “If she doesn’t stop trying, she’ll become hungry and eat whatever you give her.”

Jessica wouldn’t eat any food if she could, but that is the problem.

“Sometimes she’d crawl in a ball to get the food.

“We were aware that she was fussy, but we didn’t expect her to spend 10 years eating chicken nuggets.”

Jessica, pictured, ate normally until she reached 18 months old, but then refused to eat anything other than nuggets

Jessica was pictured here eating normally up until the age of 18 months. She then stopped eating any other food except nuggets.

The 11-year-old, pictured, has to listen to relaxing tracks and keep an achievement chart in order to overcome her food phobia

In order to conquer her food fear, she must listen to soothing tracks and create an achievement chart. 

Doctors told Julia for years that Jessica was just being fussy, and well-meaning people told the mother not to give in to Jessica's fussiness

Julia was told by doctors for many years Jessica was being fussy. Well-meaning family members told Jessica not to be fussy. 

Jessica, who was called ‘fussy by doctors’ over the years, stayed with beige food like nuggets or plain bread over the years.

What does avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), mean and what can it do for people?

A restrictive food intake disorder, or avoidant/restrictive (ARFID), is a condition that restricts the intake of certain foods.

ARFID refers to a condition in which someone restricts their intake of food or avoids them altogether.

It is not because people have a belief about their weight or body type that they develop ARFID.

ARFID can be caused by:

  • Negative feelings about the texture, smell or taste of some foods
  • Reacting to past experiences with food, like being upset by something you ate, or getting sick due to it.
  • Feeling hungry and/or not interested in eating

Source: NHS 

Julia replied, “They’d all claim she’s being fussy, that’s it or she has tummy problems.”

“All you as a parent want for your child is to have a good meal.”

“People do not understand that this is a serious illness. It’s more than just fussiness.

Julia eventually reached out to David Kilmurry, an hypnotherapist who diagnosed Julia as having ARFID.

Jessica now can enjoy a roast in her home with her family, after listening to relaxing MP4s for three weeks.

He stated that Jessica had contacted him worried about Jessica’s limited diet, which consisted of chicken nuggets only and very few other foods.

“Chicken nuggets don’t belong in the whole food group, and Jessica was extremely sick, lethargic, and anxious.

“Trying to convince Jessica, or anyone with ARFID, to eat is like trying get an arachnophobe hold of a spider.

“It causes panic in the body, vomiting and gagging as a result of thinking about unsafe food.

Julia is relieved that Jessica achieved this feat and now the entire family can enjoy a meal together for the first time since 10 years.

Julia stated, ‘It is nothing short of miraculous that Jessica can now eat a complete plate of food.

We hadn’t had a dinner together for many years. But now, we do.

“She tried 24 new foods. Even though she didn’t love all of them, this was a big step in her direction.” 

Proud mother Julia, left, said Jessica has tried 24 new foods since she was diagnosed with ARFID in September

Julia, Julia’s proud mother, says Jessica tried 24 different foods since being diagnosed with ARFID back in September

Desperate Julia, right, admitted the family had not eaten a meal together in years due to Jessica's food habits

Right, Desperate Julia admits that the family has not had a meal in years because of Jessica’s eating habits