Sophie Ray, 19, risks health by eating nothing but Margherita pizza for EIGHT YEARS

Girl, 19, risks health by eating nothing but Margherita pizza for EIGHT YEARS

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UPDATED:

23:48 GMT, 29 March 2012

This is the 19-year-old girl who has eaten nothing but Margherita pizza for the past eight years.

Sophie Ray, from Wrexham, Wales,
has not had a proper meal since she was two, and from the age of 11 she has subsisted solely on cheese and tomato pizza.

The teenager says she now gags if she touches anything but the takeaway meal, and even a slice of pepperoni is enough to turn her stomach.

Junk food addict: Sophie Ray, 19, lives on up to three pizzas a day and has not eaten a proper meal since she was two years old

Junk food addict: Sophie Ray, 19, lives on up to three pizzas a day and has not eaten a proper meal since she was two years old

Miss Ray suffers from a rare condition called Selective Eating Disorder (SED), which means she has a phobia of almost all foods, leaving her petrified to try new dishes.

Her problem began when she was struck down by a stomach bug, Gastroenteritis, at two years old.

Following the illness, Miss Ray began to fear food and could only face eating cheesy pasta, chips and lemon curd sandwiches.

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Health time bomb: The teenager has an extreme disorder that makes her gag if she attempts to eat anything but cheese and tomato pizza

Health time bomb: The teenager has an extreme disorder that makes her gag if she attempts to eat anything but cheese and tomato pizza

'I began selective eating when I was two. My mum said after I was ill, I became frightened to eat, I thought food had caused my illness.

'I began eating cheesy pasta or chips and then moved on to lemon curd sandwiches, which I ate every day for four years.

'I plucked up the courage to try pizza when I was 11 and I’ve eaten it every day since – sometimes I have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

'If I don’t have chance to eat pizza before I start college, I go all day without eating, because there’s nothing else I can eat, so I wait until I get home and have one or sometimes two pizzas.

Food phobia: Miss Ray began to fear food after a bout of gastroenteritis when she was two and began eating just cheesy pasta, chips and lemon curd sandwiches

Food phobia: Miss Ray began to fear food after a bout of gastroenteritis when she was two and began eating just cheesy pasta, chips and lemon curd sandwiches

'It has to be cheese and tomato and it has to be cooked, I can’t eat it cold and I can’t have any toppings on it.'

Miss Ray has not touched a fruit or vegetable in years and says the thought of eating a varied meal terrifies her.

Very occasionally she will try some pasta and chips or a packet of cheese and onion crisps, but she is now so used to her junk food diet that even this slight variation in her diet makes her feel sick.

She said: 'The thought of trying other foods makes me very anxious, I feel sick and really clam up.

'The taste the texture even the smell of some foods can make me gag.

'A lot of people think I’m just a picky eater but SED is a phobia. Asking me to try new foods is like asking someone who hates spiders to hold one.

High-fat diet: Miss Ray - who never touches fruit or vegetables - risks serious heart problems if she does not start choosing more varied foods

High-fat diet: Miss Ray – who never touches fruit or vegetables – risks serious heart problems if she does not start choosing more varied foods

'The more ingredients a food has in it the more terrifying I find it, a full English breakfast would be my worst nightmare, I feel really sick just looking at one.

Miss Ray visited a specialist two years ago who tried to encourage her to try new foods. But she said while this helped reduce some of the anxiety she felt about trying new foods, she is still unable to add variety to her diet.

'My favourite pizza is Pizza Express but I also like Dominos and supermarket pizzas, I eat all brands of pizza as long as it’s cheese and tomato.

'I can have a pizza from ASDA and it will taste really cheesy and then have one from Pizza Express which has more flavour from the tomatoes.

'But if a pizza had any other ingredient on it, I wouldn’t be able to eat it. I wouldn’t even be able to pick it off.

'Selective eating disorder makes me feel quite low, I get depressed at times and going out for meals with family or friends is a nightmare, so I often don’t go.

PIZZA (FACT) BOX: HEALTH RISKS OF EATING MOSTLY MARGHARITAS

Miss Ray's all-pizza diet could cause her serious health problems in the long-run, nutritionists say.

Chris Cheyette, senior dietican at Kings College Hospital said: 'She's missing out on a variety of nutrients – one concern is the type of fat she's getting is going to be quite high in saturated fat, as this can make half up of the fat in a pizza.

'Her diet does not contain enough vitamins and could shorten her lifespan, giving her a higher risk of health problems such as a heart disease or a stroke.'

Nutritionist Carina Norris warned that eating only pizza could lead to deficiencies that could hamper the immune system, showing in the hair and skin and causing weight gain.

She said the cheese on a pizza is high in salt and fat quantities, and this diet lacks the compounds we get from fruit and vegetables.

Here is what her typical daily food intake provides, compared to healthy recommended allowances.

Nutrition
Recommended daily allowanceTakeaway Margherita pizzaAverage daily intake (if three portions a day)Calories2,000
836
2,508
Fat55g
31.5g
94.5g
Protein55g
28g
84g
Saturated fat20g
15.5g
31g
Cholesterol300mg
200mg
600mg
Fibre23g
6g
18g
Salt6g
3.3g
9.9g

'I know my diet isn’t doing my health
any good and I’d really love to eat normally but it’s really hard to
change my diet after eating like this for so long.'

Nutritionist Carina Norris said: 'This is by no means a balanced
diet, she's going to missing out on a lot of vitamins and minerals.

'Her health care team is going to have to work with her to gradually introduce different food into her diet. This is definitely a problem, not just a fad.

'She could start with different toppings on pizzas. She needs to start as soon as possible, however, because what you eat when you are young has huge effect on your health in later life.'

A
spokesman from eating disorder charity BEAT said: 'Selective eating
disorder when someone focuses on one particular type of food, usually
high-fat or carbohydrate, is generally a sign that there are deep
emotional issues at work and they may feel their world is not in
control.

'These issues must be addressed in order to overcome the illness.

'In
the past selective eaters were generally thought to be young boys who
survived on food like chips and sandwiches alone but recent research
shows more adults seeking help for this illness.

'It can be very isolating with the individual not wishing to engage in social situations where food is involved.

'Research
also shows that often people are genetically hard-wired in a way that
makes them vulnerable to developing an eating disorder along with the
various societal and cultural factors that can trigger their
development.'