People need food to live — but one man is afraid if he eats, he’ll die.
John Junior, 34, from Manchester, England, is terrified of eating food with his hands so he always carries three pairs of metal tongs with him. He uses the tongs to eat everything, including soup.
His phobia is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a mental health condition that causes someone to have intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
Junior developed his debilitating fear after he ate a poorly cooked chicken 10 years ago, Jam Press reported.
Eating with kitchen tongs gives him a sense of safety.
“I know it’s ludicrous but it’s my intrusive thoughts. Everyone’s got to eat to survive and this is the only way I can deal with it,” he said.
Unfortunately, his compulsive behaviors have gained him some unwanted attention.
“People laugh and point at me when I’m out having a meal. I do get it, humans are curious. But it is hurtful,” he said.
He expressed his gratitude for when strangers dish out kindness instead of judgment.
“One time when I was at Miller and Carter I had my tongs beside the knife and fork on the table,” he said.
“The waiter had a look and smiled at me. I just said ‘I’ve got a phobia mate’ and he just went ‘That’s OK’ and gave me another smile,” Junior recalled.
He said the waiter’s smile gave him some much-needed respite from others’ judging glances.
“I briefly forgot about the giggling from other tables. It was nice that someone had just accepted it,” he explained.
Junior’s food may look good enough to eat, but not to touch.
“I just can’t physically touch the food. In my head, I think I will die. I’ve got it nailed down pretty well now. I can eat all sorts,” he said.
“I even eat soup with it. It doesn’t take me any extra time,” he continued.
Junior first began using the tongs in 2013 but he also used cutlery. Right before the pandemic, his fears grew and he started only using the tongs.
Junior spreads awareness of his OCD on TikTok, where he goes by @Johnjuniorofficial.
One of his videos, in which he eats a cottage pie with tongs, has racked up over 700,000 views.
His followers flocked to his videos to express their support for his condition.
“OCD is rough and scary, stay strong and you’ll get through the intrusive thoughts. You’re not alone,” one said.
Others made light of the situation and said they’d try the peculiar eating method themselves.
“To be fair tongs with a burger is not a bad shout, hate getting it all over my hands,” said another.
“I’m all for this. No more sauce under my acrylics,” one joked.
Other commenters had trouble wrapping their head around his eating habits.
“Nah what’s going on these days,” one said.
“Speechless,” added another.
John Junior isn’t alone in his food phobia.
Emma from North Yorkshire, England is afraid to eat vegetables and has been eating just bread and cheese for 30 years.
Tween Jessica Thompson, also from England, refused to eat anything but chicken nuggets for over a decade.