The Heartbreaking Reason Why This Man Only Eats With Metal Tongs

People
9 months ago

A man has gone viral for the particular way in which he eats, with a clip on TikTok of him eating a burger reaching almost 1 million views alone. That’s because he eats everything with metal tongs. He decided to explain why, in order to raise awareness for his condition.

It all started in 2013.

John Junior, a 34-year-old English man, has an intense fear of touching food directly with his hands, making it a challenge when it comes to eating. To deal with this fear, he constantly carries 3 sets of metal tongs, which he uses for all his meals. “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 revealed in an interview. “I even eat soup with it. It doesn’t take me any extra time.”

This fear stems from his struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a mental health condition characterized by intrusive thoughts and repetitive actions. Junior’s phobia began after a food poisoning incident, in 2013, caused by eating undercooked chicken. Now, the kitchen tongs offer him a comforting shield, ensuring his sense of safety during meals.

“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,” Junior explained.

His phobia can be debilitating.

Junior’s phobia used to be even more extreme, preventing him from eating anything but cookies. “I wasn’t feeling very food,” he said in a different interview. “I was shaking. I got into the habit and routine of eating biscuits from the packet. I only eat things that are easy to get into my mouth straight away.”

Although he’s now able to have proper meals, his condition still affects him deeply. “It causes anxiety and I have had panic attacks sometimes being out,” he went on. “It’s not nice; it’s like constantly being under control.”

“The disorder impacts my daily life hugely, it’s debilitating, most days,” he added. “I wish I could eat food and touch food like other people. It makes me feel alone and causes me anxiety constantly when I’m trying to eat. I hope it gets better. I have been trying, I always say you have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable for change.”

Even small acts of kindness get him through a tough time.

Eating in public is especially difficult for Junior, as he often gets negative reactions from those around. “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 admitted.

Because of that, he emphasized that even the tiniest gesture of empathy can give him the strength and motivation needed to get through meal time. “One time when I was at a restaurant I had my tongs beside the knife and fork on the table,” he recalled. “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. I briefly forgot about the giggling from other tables. It was nice that someone had just accepted it.”

He is trying to raise awareness and inspire others to speak up.

Despite all the criticism his compulsive behaviors attract, Junior remains adamant in sharing his daily struggles on social media. On his birthday, he took to Instagram to explain exactly why.

“The purpose of posting me eating this birthday cake with my metal tongs is for awareness,” he captioned. “Awareness helps people somewhat understand something. You can never fully understand if you don’t go through it. We have to try and help people understand by sharing our experiences. It always helps people feel less alone and not to suffer in silence with how they feel.”

He also pointed out how online hate can prevent people from opening up about their own challenging experiences. “When people call someone an attention seeker or just click out of it, it makes someone feel very frustrated and makes them feel like they can’t express how they feel,” he wrote. “Please don’t remain silent if you are struggling with something,” he added. “The way you are feeling is valid, and we are human it’s okay to feel sad, low, emotional, and it’s okay to express how you feel too. Your experience will help someone else.”

Every day more and more people are brave enough to tell their own story of uniqueness. In Brazil, two parents decided to share with the world their son’s extraordinary features. Miguel, a baby boy, has a “beard better than most men” and it’s sparking curiosity across social media.

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