What Is a Fear of Peanut Butter? (Arachibutyrophobia)?

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If you know someone who can't seem to stand the texture of peanut butter, it may not be a simple aversion. They may be experiencing arachibutyrophobia, a fear of the substance sticking to the roof of their mouth, which is often associated with a fear of choking. Some people with a fear of peanut butter may still consume it in small quantities, while others may avoid it entirely.

This article will dive into what happens when someone is afraid of eating peanut butter, what may be causing the fear, and what potential treatment options may be available if someone wants to work on overcoming this phobia.

Jar of peanut butter

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Symptoms

A person experiencing a fear of peanut butter may be experiencing a phobia. Phobias are defined as an excessive or marked fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation. Phobias are considered a type of anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of a phobia of peanut butter may include:

  • Fear or anxiety triggered by peanut butter (thinking about it, being near it, being served something with peanut butter as an ingredient).
  • Feelings of anxiety are out of proportion with the actual threat (i.e., you're afraid eating peanut butter will result in death despite not having a peanut allergy).
  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance of peanut butter causes significant distress or impairment.
  • General anxiety symptoms resulting from the "fight or flight" response are triggered. These may include sweating, feeling like your heart's racing, and feeling sick to your stomach at the thought or sight of peanut butter.

Causes

Fear of peanut butter is considered a simple or specific phobia, which means that the fear is specific to a particular situation or object. A person can develop a phobia after a traumatic experience with peanut butter, such as choking on it, and may develop a fear of choking as a result.

Fear of peanut butter due to a phobia is different than fear of peanut butter due to an allergy to peanuts. Peanuts are one of the most common food allergens. They are also listed in the top eight foods that cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock (throat closing) which can be life-threatening. People who could experience an allergic reaction to peanut butter have a logical reason to fear and avoid it.

Similarly, people with difficulties that make swallowing challenging or eating without choking more challenging have a logical reason to fear peanut butter.

Treatment

If you or a loved one is afraid of peanut butter due to an anxiety disorder, treatment is available.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy or talk therapy that can help a person to better understand where the fear stems from and work on changing the underlying thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that might contribute to the fear.

Exposure therapy is a type of CBT that often treats specific phobias. It involves gradual exposure to the feared object along with cognitive and behavioral techniques to decrease the fear response over time.

Summary

Fear of peanut butter is sometimes a type of specific phobia, which is a type of anxiety disorder. This is different than a fear of peanut butter because of an allergy. If a fear of peanut butter is impacting your life, you may consider CBT.

A Word From Verywell

If a fear of peanut butter is interfering with your day-to-day functioning, there's no shame in getting help. Speaking with your healthcare provider can help provide insight into what may work best for you and your specific symptoms. Speaking with a mental health professional may also help you face your fears and live a normal life again.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sahoo S, Hazari N, Padhy SK. Choking phobia: An uncommon phobic disorder, treated with behavior therapy: A case report and review of the literatureShanghai Arch Psychiatry. 2016 Dec;28(6):349-352. doi:10.11919/j.issn.1002-0829.216055

  2. Harvard Health Publishing. Phobia.

  3. MedlinePlus. Phobias — simple/specific.

  4. Sahoo S, Hazari N, Padhy SK. Choking phobia : an uncommon phobic disorder, treated with behavior therapy : a case report and review of the literatureShanghai Arch Psychiatry. 28(6):349-352.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Food allergies. February 24, 2022.

By Michelle Pugle
Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.