Life Video

BY NICOLAS FERNANDES


A boy whose skin turned orange due to only eating baby food until age nine is recovering from his rare eating disorder now able to eat everything from pizza to ice cream, cakes, Yorkshire puddings and more.

PIC BY JAMES SPEAKMAN / MERCURY PRESS

Harry Smith, 11, of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, refused to eat everything except his favourite mushy meals for nearly a decade, until his mother Angela, 44, brought him to a psychologist who specializes in the food phobia. 

After a life-changing food therapy session with Felix Economakis, he quickly started trying foods like chicken, bread and cheese for the first time. 

Over time, Harry ditched the 12 jars of baby food a day that he used to eat and started introducing solid foods to his diet.

He has been experimenting with many different foods for the past two years, with new additions to his diet including gammon, pancakes and Yorkshire puddings. 

PIC BY ANGELA SMITH / CATERS NEWS

While he has come a long way, Harry’s Selective Eating Disorder (SED) means he still struggles to taste green vegetables and eggs.     

Angela said: “He was eating as many as 12 jars of baby food a day and wouldn’t eat anything else. 

“While he was still in the room with Felix, he tried bread, blueberries, cheese, a microwaved ready meal and a chocolate chip cookie. This was the first time he had ever eaten a solid food.

“Seeing him eat solids for the first time in nine years was amazing. There were so many emotions I was feeling.

“Over the months, Harry’s food range improved. Today he is able to go anywhere without the need for baby food.

“He is able to find something he wants on the menu of any restaurant we go to. 

“It’s great being able to take him anywhere to eat. Two years ago, we couldn’t go anywhere spontaneous. Something as simple as visiting relatives was a hassle because we needed to bring food for Harry. 

PIC BY ANGELA SMITH / CATERS NEWS

“I would like his diet to become more varied and healthy, but those are things he is still working on.”   

While the therapy session was quick and easy, getting to the appointment was not. 

Once his first birthday passed and Harry still wouldn’t eat solids, Angela became overwhelmed struggling to know what to do. 

The mum insisted that it was some type of illness, but everyone, including his doctors, said he was just a ‘fussy eater.’ 

Angela said: “When he turned one and still wouldn’t try any new foods, I started getting concerned. 

“As the years went on, health professionals tried labeling it as fussy eating and told me he’d grow out of it.” 

PIC BY JAMES SPEAKMAN / MERCURY PRESS

When he was eight years old, Angela’s cousin found Felix’s Facebook page and they all finally understood that the boy was suffering from the ‘phobia of foods’ disorder. 

Once they discovered that they could see Felix for treatment, it took Harry ten months before he got up the courage to agree to the idea. 

Angela said: “Reading stories on Facebook, I was so relieved to find that there were other people like Harry and more importantly, people with success stories.

“It took him so long to get up the courage to go. He was so scared at the thought of even having to try food.” 

Felix says one in 20 people in the UK suffer from the eating disorder and that there can be a number of different causes.

The food psychologist said: “It can be triggered by an unexpected taste the first time, a virus or even a fear of choking. 

PIC BY JAMES SPEAKMAN / MERCURY PRESS

“It is one of the most common phobias. It’s probably as common a phobia of spiders.” 

Felix added: “It is confused with fussy eating too often. Most doctors can’t even wrap their head around it. 

“My therapy has been effective, but just like anything, it depends on the person. I’ve seen people drastically change and I’ve seen others who were not affected much by the therapy.”