Mageirocophobia (Fear of Cooking)

Overview

What is mageirocophobia?

Mageirocophobia is an extreme fear of cooking. It’s a specific phobia, meaning that it causes fear of a particular situation.

Mageirocophobia may stem from other mental health issues, including:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), known for its repetitive thoughts and urges.
  • Perfectionism, an expectation of flawlessness that, when not met, causes severe self-criticism.

This phobia may also stem from a fear of making mistakes. These mistakes can lead to:

  • Fires: Stoves, ovens, microwaves and other kitchen appliances can cause fires. If there’s a grease fire, it can spread quickly and be difficult to put out.
  • Food poisoning: Certain foods can make you sick if not fully cooked.
  • Unappetizing food: Simple mistakes like cooking food too long can make it unpleasant to eat.
  • Injuries: There’s a small risk of injury when using sharp objects.
  • Stress: Cooking takes time and concentration, which can be difficult when you’re busy.

What are phobias?

It’s natural to fear things that feel dangerous or uncomfortable. Fires, sharp objects and the threat of severe illness give many people anxiety. But they rarely disrupt daily activities.

Phobias are more severe. They cause intense fear that makes you go out of your way to avoid certain situations. Phobias cause abnormal thoughts and behaviors that are difficult to control. These feelings can bring challenges to your everyday life.

What does mageirocophobia mean?

Many people feel anxious about preparing food, trying a new recipe or cooking for other people. With mageirocophobia, cooking or watching someone else cook can bring severe anxiety. Some people experience overwhelming symptoms that lead to panic attacks.

There’s no reason to feel self-conscious about possibly having a phobia. And there are therapies that can lessen its impact on your life. Talking to your healthcare provider can be one of the first steps toward getting better.

Symptoms and Causes

What are mageirocophobia causes?

Genetics and environmental factors can increase the risk of specific phobias like mageirocophobia:

  • Genetics: A family history of mood disorders can raise your risk of anxiety and phobias.
  • Environment: Experiencing emotional trauma related to cooking raises the risk of mageirocophobia. You may have experienced a kitchen fire or harsh feedback from previous cooking attempts.

What are mageirocophobia symptoms?

Mageirocophobia symptoms include behaviors and physical responses.

Behaviors

Behaviors that can affect your daily life include:

  • Refusing to set foot in a kitchen for fear of seeing someone cooking.
  • Working in professions where you don’t have to see or think about people cooking.
  • Avoiding restaurants so you won’t risk seeing other people cook.

Physical symptoms

Mageirocophobia can also make you feel sick with physical symptoms that include:

Diagnosis and Tests

How is mageirocophobia diagnosed?

Tests aren’t needed. Instead, your healthcare provider asks you about symptoms and behaviors.

They may ask:

  • If you have a personal or family history of social anxiety disorder or a specific phobia.
  • How often you think about cooking.
  • How thinking about cooking makes you feel.
  • What aspects of cooking give you anxiety.
  • Whether the fear of cooking has led to changes in your daily routine.
  • If you’re avoiding activities or places you used to enjoy because of this phobia.

Management and Treatment

What is mageirocophobia treatment like?

A common mageirocophobia treatment is exposure therapy. A therapist very gradually exposes you to cooking and teaches you healthier coping methods. Therapy starts with low-risk exposures, such as pictures of people cooking. As treatment progresses, you take steps toward cooking on your own. With successful treatment, you become more comfortable being around cooking.

Can other treatments help me cope with mageirocophobia?

Additional treatments may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Undergoing CBT helps you explore why cooking causes anxiety. You also learn how to not give in to negative thoughts.
  • Medications: Drugs don’t cure mageirocophobia. But antidepressants can help with mood disorders, and anti-anxiety medications can help you get through a stressful situation.
  • Stress reduction: Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques can help clear your mind. This may make you feel more confident about overcoming mageirocophobia.

Prevention

Is there anything I can do to prevent mageirocophobia?

If you face a higher risk of anxiety disorders, you can take steps to manage them. Doing so may lower the risk of situations that cause anxiety to escalate into phobias.

You may be able to prevent mageirocophobia and other phobias by:

  • Limiting alcohol and recreational drug consumption.
  • Lowering stress during everyday activities, like working.
  • Quitting smoking and other forms of tobacco use.
  • Spending time with loved ones.
  • Taking up a new hobby to take your mind off the phobia.

Outlook / Prognosis

What is the outlook for people with mageirocophobia?

Exposure therapy and other treatments help you overcome the fear of cooking. Doing so can make it easier to go about your daily life. Cooking may still sometimes cause anxiety, but knowing how to calm your mind can prevent these feelings from escalating.

Living With

What else is important to know about overcoming mageirocophobia?

Learning more about cooking can make it easier to overcome mageirocophobia. You can do this by:

  • Finding out more about food safety rules. This may include learning how to use a digital food thermometer to make sure food is at a safe temperature.
  • Asking a friend to show you how to cook something you like to eat. This approach allows you to ask questions.
  • Taking a cooking class. When you go to a class, a lot of the prep work is already taken care of, so you can focus on cooking.
  • Using a grocery delivery service. This service helps you avoid a potentially triggering situation and enables you to have ready-made food at home.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Mageirocophobia is an extreme fear of cooking. Many people with this condition worry about the results of their cooking. They fear cooking mistakes that could be embarrassing or harm someone else. You might go out of your way to avoid cooking or the thought of it. This approach can worsen the fear’s grip on your life. But you don’t have to live this way. A mental health professional may use exposure therapy to help you overcome mageirocophobia. Learning more about cooking and food safety rules can also improve your confidence.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/10/2022.

References

  • Merck Manual Consumer Version. Phobic Disorders (Phobias). (https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/quick-facts-mental-health-disorders/anxiety-and-stress-related-disorders/phobic-disorders-phobias) Accessed 2/10/2022.
  • Merck Manual Consumer Version. Specific Phobic Disorders. (https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/mental-health-disorders/anxiety-and-stress-related-disorders/specific-phobic-disorders) Accessed 2/10/2022.
  • National Health Service (United Kingdom). Phobias. (https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/phobias/) Accessed 2/10/2022.

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