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Aimed at those with eating disorders, a new TikTok challenge called the ‘fear food’ challenge is taking over the social media platform. But what is the fear food challenge all about?

A Fear Food challenge isn’t just an eating competition. The challenge is aimed at people struggling with eating disorders and encourages them to confront their fears by eating the foods they dread most. Proponents of these challenges claim that they can help the participant recover from their phobia while promoting a healthier relationship with food among viewers.

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What is the ‘fear food’ challenge on TikTok, and what is it doing for eating disorders?

An unusual type of video content has recently emerged on TikTok. Internet users are taking to their smartphones and filming themselves eating… their “fear food.” But unlike the wacky food challenges we’re used to seeing, this challenge isn’t for everyone. In fact, this challenge, dubbed the “Fear Food Challenge,” is specifically designed to help people struggling with eating disorders.

In these videos, the individual (usually a young woman) who is recovering from an eating disorder puts their courage to the test by devouring the foods they dread most in front of the camera. These are often high-calorie dishes such as cheeseburgers, tacos or chocolate bars. One participant, for example, goes to a food court to enjoy a hot dog and accompanies her video with the message: “Never give up on yourself. Recovery is possible. And worth it.” Viewers’ comments overflow with support, highlighting the bravery of these individuals. In other videos, young women draw lots, using small pieces of paper, to see which dreaded food they’re going to eat in front of the camera. On TikTok, the hashtag #Fearfoodchallenge has accumulated over 470 million views.

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Never give up on yourself. Recovery is possible. And worth it. So f 🌭cking worth it.

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Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa are often accompanied by high levels of anxiety about certain foods, triggering negative thoughts. Sufferers may fear that food will lead to weight gain, or that it will break strict rules they have set themselves, such as excluding certain carbohydrates or fats. The “Fear Food Challenge” thus offers an approach to overcoming these food fears and re-establishing a healthier relationship with food.

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For some people this kind of challenge can be a step in a recovery process of healing 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 points out that people in recovery or treatment experience a real, visceral fear of these foods. A crucial step in their recovery is being able to eat a variety of foods, including those that were once a source of anxiety.

“The first time you face down one of these fear foods, I think your best chance of success is to do it with a professionally-licensed provider who is trained to support you,” notes the specialist, who also warns of the potential risks of the challenge, including content that is triggering for some, derogatory comments or harassment that some participants may experience as well as misinformation about eating disorders.

This story is published via AFP Relaxnews.

Source: Prestige Online

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