We all may be guilty of overindulging in our favorite food every now and then. But it seems like one British teen has taken her single food addiction to a whole new level.
Stacey Irvine, 17, of Castle Vale, Birmingham, loves eating McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. So much so, in fact, that it’s been her main-choice meal for the past 15 years, according to a report written by the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
Early this week, Irvine was rushed to the hospital because her body was depleted of necessary vitamins and minerals, the Daily Mail reported. Irvine, a factory worker, told the Daily Mail that she has never eaten fruits or vegetables.
While many psychiatrists label food addiction or even picky eating as mental health disorders, it is not found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders.
“This is pretty uncommon,” said Dr. Sue Varma, a psychiatrist at NYU Langone school of medicine. “Usually, when we see food addiction, we see overconsumption of food and not limiting to one food.”
Ever since Irvine was introduced to Chicken McNuggets by her mother when she was only two years old, she’s been hooked, she told the Daily Mail.
“I just couldn’t face even trying other foods. Mum gave up giving me anything else years ago,” Irvine told the Daily Mail.
Varma said that Irvine’s restriction to one food may be a symptom of a larger psychological issue.
“Some people with neurological and developmental conditions prefer a limited range of food,” said Varma. “In general, it might have to do with feeling comfortable in being restricted in range.”
Irvine said she’s tried other meals, but nothing is as delicious to her as the nuggets – any brand, really.
Chicken nuggets are considered comfort food for many because of the high carbohydrate intake and their fried taste.
Overindulgence of comfort foods may be a sign of depression and anxiety, according to Varma.
“You see it in younger kids with separation anxiety,” said Varma. “Someone restricting to this extent should be evaluated for physical deficiency and cognitive development.”
While it’s unclear what role the family has had in Irvine’s situation, in cases like this, Varma said, it’s even more important for families to be involved in the recovery.
“In a lot of disorders with children, kids need their own therapy, but families need therapy too,” she said. “Realize that just the way you would take your child to pediatrician, going to a mental health physicians is the same and just as important.”