Imagine facing your worst fear — but it’s on your plate.

TikTok’s viral fear food challenge aims to help recovery from eating disorders, but experts warn of potential mental health risks without professional help.

Imagine facing your worst fear — but it’s on your plate.

No, we’re not talking about the reality stunt game TV show, Fair Factor, where contestants eat disgusting and disgusting things as a challenge to win prizes.

An unusual trend has emerged on the social media platform TikTok.

The ‘Fear Food Challenge’ or #fearfoodchallenge is designed to help people with eating disorders.

The challenge involves an individual, usually someone in recovery from an eating disorder, testing their mettle by randomly selecting food items from the “Fair Food Jar”.

They then eat the foods they fear the most in front of the camera. Food items are often high-calorie items such as burgers, tacos or chocolate bars. To date, the hashtag #fearfoodchallenge has garnered over 470 million views.

Fear of food, resulting in restriction or avoidance of certain foods, is one of the symptoms of an eating disorder. Although eating disorders can occur at any age and affect either gender, they most commonly begin in adolescents (ages 10 to 19) and young adults (up to age 24).

People with medical conditions that affect appetite and digestion (for example, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease) and diabetes are more likely to develop eating disorders.

Treatments that address psychological aspects are first-line options for treating eating disorders, including the more commonly known cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Psychotherapy usually involves cognitive restructuring or remediation, exploration of beliefs, and management of mood symptoms. Hospital care is essential for severe cases of eating disorders.

Closely related to the fear food challenge is a form of exposure therapy. It is a form of CBT therapy using exposure and response prevention theory in a clinical setting.

The “exposure” component involves practicing coping with feared thoughts, images, objects, and situations. The “response inhibition” part refers to choosing not to act compulsively against the fear. This is a common method for treating an anxiety disorder called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

An important part of therapy is the guidance of a trained therapist, especially in the early stages. The goal of treatment is to retrain the brain to no longer see something as a fear trigger.

Learning models support the potential efficacy of exposure-based therapy for reducing fear of food in eating disorders. However, Fear Food Challenge videos are often filmed alone, although sometimes with a friend or close colleague, but without anyone specifically trained in exposure therapy.

Viewers watching these videos can make negative comments, which can potentially damage the mental health of the person recording the video who already suffers from an eating disorder. The effect of filming fear food challenges can backfire to create more distressing episodes.

Although research has shown promising effects in the aspect of exposure to the feared object, a clear vulnerability to fear of food challenges is observed when there is a lack of supervision by a trained person.

Findings in a related study are not in favor of using social media to address eating disorders, as components that address self-criticism, self-esteem, self-esteem, body image, and nutritional management are often lacking. are focused, they are very important for everyone. Recovery from eating disorders.

A fear eating challenge can be beneficial in learning about the experience of eating disorder problems. This can be seen as raising awareness of medical conditions and hopefully increasing empathy towards those with eating disorders. However, adequate media literacy skills are an important pre-requisite for viewers when expecting any positive results from using social media.

Effective psychotherapy for adults must be guided by trained professionals because treatment is structured to target individual (within the individual) and/or interpersonal (with others) factors and beliefs. Especially with managing mood symptoms in the early stages.

Self-help developed by mentoring experts can take the form of your workbooks, meeting with mentors (who can train non-experts such as peers or non-mental health professionals), blogs And reading or listening to success and motivational stories from podcasts. From peers, and joining support groups.

The fear eating challenge can be an inspiration for those struggling with an eating disorder and as a starting point for exposure therapy. However, success in eating disorder recovery is more effective if it is done with proper screening or supervision by a trained peer or specialist.

(Originally published under Co-creation by the 360 information)

(Other than the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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