Isa, 42-year-old Spaniard

Sickened by the sight of olive pits

Isabel López can’t eat olives. Not because of their taste, but because the sight of even a single olive pit makes her sick to her stomach. She’s been like this as long as she can remember. Her little sister, too.

Isa grew up on a Spanish olive farm and her older sister loves olives, pops them like grapes. But the two younger sisters? They’ve never worked out why, but the thought of olive pits makes their stomachs roll and heave in disgust.

“I didn’t eat a single fruit with a seed until I was 25,” Isa, now 42, says. “Not a cherry, not a peach. Now I eat them – but with cherries, for example, I cut them into four pieces and separate the pieces with a knife so I don’t have to see the seed. It takes me half an hour but I can eat them. Still, I can’t do olives. I just can’t bear to see the pits.”

“I didn’t eat a single fruit with a seed until I was 25. Not a cherry, not a peach. Now it takes me half an hour, but I can eat them. Still, I can’t do olives. I just can’t bear to see the pits.”

It makes things awkward socially sometimes. Friends might discretely whisk their olive pits out of sight at the dinner table. But Isa’s usually not comfortable telling acquaintances or work colleagues.

“It’s really hard. What I do is put plates, wine and water bottles, cups and wine glasses in front of me. So I’m talking but at the same time I’m slowly moving all of these things so I don’t have to see the pits. Then it’s fine,” she says.

“But I do feel bad because people don’t understand it. I don’t really understand it, either. This is just how it is, this is how I feel and I can’t change it.”

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