The man who’s scared of KETCHUP: Manchester bar supervisor plagued by phobia of ‘wet and gloopy’ food

Exclusive by Kenny Lomas

Most of us have a secret phobia that we try to conceal from friends and family for fear of being teased or terrified out of our wits.

Some are scared of spiders, others baulk at the thought of snakes while others go pale at the idea of scaling great heights, but one Manchester man has been dogged by a long-life food phobia.

Bar supervisor Lee Sentino has been battling a fear of ‘wet’ foods and sauces his entire life.

The 24-year-old told MM: “I would eat like everyone else however I just can’t – it simply has to be dry. For example there would be no condiments, sauces, or gravy. If my family were having lasagne, I would have a separate meal.

“I could eat a good old-fashioned roast dinner, but I had to eat it without gravy.”

Like many who suffer with different food phobias Lee has never sought professional help for his unusual fear.

He said: “I never seen any counsellors about the issue because I presumed it would be fine to live like this forever.”

It’s generally accepted that most phobias are deep-rooted from childhood with an event triggering the reaction; however Lee is baffled as he can’t recall a specific moment that set his fear in motion.

OFF THE SAUCE: Lee chomping down a bowl of plain pasta

“I don’t really know why I had this phobia but I used to joke that my mum chased me around the house with a bottle of Heinz,” he joked.

Lee said that he used to feel overcome with anxiety when faced with the prospect of eating anything that isn’t within his normal boundaries of dry food. 

“When presented with something I didn’t want to eat it I would gag and feel as if my body would reject it if I were to consume whatever it was,” Lee told MM.

“I’ve had a fair number of comments about it from people over the years and this only served to heighten my anxiety about it.”

Lee explained that meal times were a daily battle at home but turned in to a ‘living nightmare’ when he decided to eat out.

He revealed: “It was difficult to go to restaurants as most, if not all, of the menus wouldn’t be suited to my needs. I remember the time I went to an Italian restaurant and just asked for a bowl of pasta.

“When I close my eyes, I still see the woman’s look of confusion and disgust.”

But there is some hope for Lee who has slowly started to overcome his fear of sauces in the last 12 months.

While he hasn’t beaten the phobia completely, Lee said he has been able to eat all manner of pies, lasagnes and a range of desserts, all to the detriment of his waistline.

PROGRESS: Lee trying out a ‘moist’ dessert

He said: “The thought of gloopy bottled sauces like ketchup and brown sauce still make me feel queasy, similarly custard is too much for me – I would rather just steer clear.

“I appreciate that it is ridiculous considering myself brave for just eating some food but it did genuinely feel like a mental or physical block that I had to get over.”

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