New Year's Resolutions: James

Produce Paranoia

"My New Year's resolution is to attempt to eat and enjoy vegetables," James says. "I haven't had a vegetable in about 20 years. I'd rather have an extra piece of grilled cheese or some cheese fries."

"Everything between James and me is absolutely wonderful, except for the fact that he will not eat a vegetable, and it's been driving me absolutely nuts," says James' fiancée, Shannon. "He thinks he's invincible."

James navigates the produce section of a grocery story. "I do not negotiate with turnips. Carrots, I can't do that. Some green leaf, no go," he says. "I do not like carrot juice, so I think V8 is the elixir of the devil."

"If I wasn't here to cook for him, he would live on fast food," Shannon says. "If there is a plate in front of him that has
something he doesn't recognize, he will immediately start examining it. He said to me that when I'm eating a salad, it looks to him like I'm eating garbage, and it's just ridiculous."

"Some of my favorite meals: I would start with pizza, cheese, some meat," James says. "Shannon got me to eat a green bean. I put a bean in my mouth, I started gagging, and it went back up."

"What I am concerned about is his health," Shannon says. "I don't know how long a human body can go without having any kind of a vegetable in it. His colon is going to rot!"

"I am not overweight, and I feel like I'm in good health," James says. Still, he'd like to change. "Dr. Phil, help me learn to grow up and learn to eat my vegetables," he says.

"I would love to be able to eat vegetables," James tells Dr. Phil.

"Do you have a theory as to why you don't?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Typically, my taste buds are used to salt, or cheese or meat, and something that gets introduced that's foreign, such as vegetables, gets rejected right away," he says.

"And you understand that all these fried foods that you're eating are cooked in vegetable oil?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yeah, so that's a way I'm getting my vegetables," James deduces.

"Well, problem solved!" Dr. Phil jokes. "But you realize there is nothing inherently evil in vegetables."

"Yes," he says.

James' parents own a produce store, and he explains that his job used to be as the trash boy " taking the spoiled vegetables to the dump.

"Well, gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with it," Dr. Phil comments sarcastically.
He plays a surprise message from James' parents:

"Hello, Dr. Phil!" James' father, Martin, says.

In the family produce store, his mother, Joanne, pleads, "Please, Jim, please, with all this that you have access to, eat a vegetable! This is all grown and brought in fresh daily. How about a little spinach? If there is something that I can tempt you with, we'll send it to you," she says.

"You recognize this is a mental thing, right?" Dr. Phil asks. "There is no reality, only perception. There's nothing wrong with vegetables; it's just the way you're labeling them."

"That's correct," James says.

A table is rolled out onstage. "Here's the deal: it's how you label food, right? Some things are safe, some are not,"
Dr. Phil says. He lifts the cover off a dish and reveals a piece of Sweet Lady Jane chocolate cake. "This is safe, and it's because of the way you label it. Do you have any problem eating this?"

"No," James says.

"Take a bite," Dr. Phil prompts.

James takes a bite.

"Do you like it?"

"Yeah," he says.

"This is a chocolate zucchini cake, and it's OK because it's wrapped differently for you, right?" Dr. Phil takes the cover off another platter, revealing zucchini slices. "And yet, if we said, ‘OK, this is what's in here,' then you say, ‘That I don't like.'" Dr. Phil hands a piece of zucchini to James. "What do you think of it?"

James inspects the vegetable while Shannon and Dr. Phil snack on a piece of their own. "I don't like the consistency. It just doesn't appear to be palatable," he says.

"You understand that you don't have a problem with that. What you have is an internal dialogue label, and it's now gotten automatic," Dr. Phil says. "If you changed your dialogue, you would be able to eat vegetables. You ate them in here," he points to the cake. "You've smuggled vegetables into his food, right?" Dr. Phil asks Shannon.

"Yes," she says.

"So there's not one thing in your body that rejects vegetables," he tells James. "It's just that you label it in a way that causes you to have an emotional reaction that expresses physiologically. Do you get that?"

"Yeah. Totally," he says.

"So that means you have a fear in the absence of a clear and present danger. And you want to change that. Do you think you can?"

"I believe I can if it's wrapped in some chocolaty goodness," James says.

"Could you power through and eat that if you had to?" Dr. Phil asks, referring to the zucchini.

"If I had to, yeah," he says.

"Someone would have to hold a gun to his head," Shannon comments.

"Well, it depends on the reward," James explains.

"How about the reward that you just knew that you had taken back control over an irrational fear? Would that be enough?"

"That's a pretty good reward," he admits.

Dr. Phil gives James some zucchini and tells him to go backstage to just think about it. "Here's the thought: You have an irrational fear, and you can choose to label this in a logical way. And I'm not going to make you do this. I'm going to ask you if you will challenge what you're saying to yourself, and make a decision that you can rise above this. Will you do it?"

"Yes," James says.


Later in the show, James tells Dr. Phil that he did eat his vegetables " well, half of a slice of zucchini anyway. "It was pretty easy. It tasted like a watered down watermelon," he says.

"What I want you to focus on, seriously, is your labeling system, because you clearly have associated this with, like, rotting vegetables, and so you've got a really bad automatic image. I really want you to focus on changing that, and then start easing into this. But do it because you want to do it," Dr. Phil tells him.