Why I Can’t Eat At Indian Restaurants…

I have a fear of vomit.

There. I said it. I’ve alluded to it here in the past, but I’m going to come clean and own this right now…I think I am emetophobic.  Barf-phobic.  Deathly afraid of the stomach flu.

I’m not sure how this started, but it’s surfaced in the last three years since my children have been old enough to puke all over me, and certainly compounded by my recent bout of stomach issues.

I have barf bags hidden in my purse and in my car.  Homeopathic remedies for nausea at the ready.  A stash of ginger in my pantry.  There are large portions of Tosh.0 that I cannot watch.

What I’d like to wear to clean up puke…
Photo: Rainer Hungershausen

Thinking that I was crazy, I googled “fear of vomit” a few days ago, and up popped a whole slew of articles about this phobia. I had no idea it was a real thing. And look!  I’m not alone!  The Wikipedia article I read (and since it’s Wikipedia, it MUST be true) said that celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Matt Lauer also join me in this quirk.

I can’t really say what has spurred this all of this nonsense.  The last time I got sick enough to barf was the stomach bug I inherited from dancers in the company, mere hours before boarding a plane to New York City for my big Weaning Trip.  I spent days not wanting to eat, which in a city like NYC is down-right sacrilegious.  But man, did I look fabulous when running in to folks who last saw me 6 months pregnant!  Besides that, my last major memories of non-stop hurling involved bouts of food poisoning.  Encountering this gastrointestinal horror in a quaint Bed & Breakfast in a tiny village in Ireland was less than ideal.  Or romantic.

But perhaps the most crippling side effect of this vomit phobia is how I deal with my kids.  They’re little germ pools, and I’ve had a few rounds of GI distress with both of them.  Clean-up makes me squeamish.  My sympathetic nausea kicks in.  And usually I end up actually contracting the bug a day or so later.  So, now, every time one of them starts acting squirrely or gets the hint of a fever, I go in to panic mode.  Grabbing buckets and looking for any sign that stomach contents might be projecting their way on to my clothing or upholstery.   Even if the kids have never even said their stomach hurts.  I’m sure they’re picking up on this energy, and yet I don’t know how to stop it.

Thankfully Jon is immune to all of this.  He’s been in the trenches with me during the darkest times with the kids, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

The last time Mr. B got really sick, he was about two years old.  He had thrown up a few times and we got him back on track in a few days by the sworn BRAT diet and eliminating milk from his menu for the week.  He seemed normal in a few days, so at the end of the week, we met friends for dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant that we loved.

Mr. B had a well visit with his pediatrician earlier that day, and he had given the green light for milk, so we gave Mr. B a sippy cup for the road and got in the car.  After we ordered our meal, we were catching up with our friends when Mr. B started getting really antsy and whiny.  I thought maybe he just wasn’t feeling the need to sit in his high chair.

When, all of a sudden, he blew chunks all over the table.  And the floor.  And Jon’s lap.  Jon picked him up and carried him outside, Mr. B leaving a trail of vomit all they way through the restaurant and out in to the parking lot.

I was mortified.  For the rest of the time we lived in Denver, I couldn’t bring myself to step foot back in to that Indian restaurant.  And subsequently, I can’t really entertain the idea of eating at any Indian restaurant.  One day, perhaps, I’ll tackle this phobia and be able to scarf down poppadoms and chicken tikka masala in an actual establishment.  Until then, I’ll continue to stock up on Lysol and probiotics.
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  1. Vomit Phobia…I’ll chalk that up to my lesson learned for the day, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at throw up again without thinking of you! I’m afraid you won’t have a future working as a school nurse or in a day care!

    • Yes, my career dreams have never hovered around anything involving sick people. I wish I had a stronger stomach for it, pun intended! Perhaps I need to call my therapist…

  2. I’ve never heard of this but it seems annoying enough for you.
    I’m not a germ phobe but I have a fear of public restrooms. If I can hold it until I am home, I’ll do that but if I have to use it, I try not to touch a thing/.

    • It certainly is something that runs in the back of my mind on a regular basis. I know it’s totally not healthy, that’s for sure. I’m not that concerned with the public restrooms, though I certainly have friends that have this issue.

  3. hahaha I love any story that allows people to say ME TOO! Woman especially feel so validated when they know they are not alone. Thanks for putting yourself out there, and teaching us all a little about emetophobia

    • Now, keep in mind, this is a self-diagnosed phobia! But I’ve been secretly hiding this for a while, and was relieved when I saw things about it on the internet. Like all this time I thought it was just me, but now I see it is something many may experience. I’m not the only wuss out there!

  4. I am sorry that you struggle with that and I hope you can avoid it. However, I am kind of giggling that I am a nurse and this is the first vomit post I have read- and I did not write it! :)

    • Wow, the first vomit post! I feel so honored! Really, with all the mom blogs out there? My friends in real life know very well that if someone around me mentions that they puked recently, I step about 3 feet away from them. BTW, I like your name!

  5. OMG, this was hilarious. Literally had me laughing out loud. I don’t have a fear of vomit any more than the average human should have (when my kids barf on me I just stand there having an out of body experience). But the image of a kid trailing barf through a restaurant is beyond horribly embarrassing, and very funny (in a sick way). Glad to have found my way to your blog, friend!!!

    • So glad I could make you chuckle! I’m still emotionally carred from the whole experience! Funny, tho, that when my kids were babies, spit up didnt phase me. I guess its because it just came out, no stretching involved. I saw that YouTube video of Justin Bieber puking onstage and now I can’t get that image out of my head every time I hear “boyfriend.”. Glad to have found you too!

  6. Catherine Lorenz says:

    I am an emetophobic and it has crushed a large part of my life. The slightest stomach ache and the fear sets in and it is only recently that I have felt confident enough to let my husband go out in the evening without another adult with me at home with the kids. There are several groups on fb and we are all there for each other when times get tough. It is one of the most common phobias and one of the most debilitating. I wish you all the best.

    • Oh, Catherine, I’m so sorry to hear how debilitating this has been for you. I’ve seen a few groups around on the internet and thought about joining the discussion. But even really reading about everyone else’s experiences and fears makes me queasy!



  1. […] don’t know when I got all weird about illness. I think it was dormant when I was single, but now that I have children and love them to pieces, I […]


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