Vicki Larrieux, a 22-year-old student from Portsmouth, claims she is unable to keep to a healthy diet because she is frightened of vegetables. She suffers lachanophobia, a phobia of vegetables which leaves her sweating and stricken with panic attacks at the merest sight of any leafy greens.

Larrieux survives on a diet of meat, potatoes, cereals and an occasional apple but refuses even a single slice of carrot on her dinner plate. “I have always had an irrational fear of vegetables even as a child I used to properly freak out if some carrots or a few peas were on my plate,” she said.

“But as it continued into adult life I started to think it might not just be a dislike for vegetables but an actual phobia. Every time I would see vegetables not just on my plate, but anywhere I would get feelings of panic, start sweating and my heart rate would shoot up.

“People might think it is a bit of a laughable affliction but I have a genuine fear of greens it’s not just that I dislike the taste of sprouts or broccoli, but the actual sight of them fills me with dread and I could never touch them.”

As a result of her condition, Larrieux routine trips to the supermarket or a night out at a restaurant with her boyfriend Joseph Jade, 25, becomes a major problem.

“It is a bit of an ordeal to go to the supermarket because the veg is usually right by the door,” she said. “My boyfriend is very understanding and does his best to accommodate me. It is a good job he isn’t a vegetarian because it just wouldn’t work.

“I am learning to control my fear but it isn’t easy it is a hard thing to have to bring up when I meet new people and I’m sure some people must think I’m taking the mickey.” The unusual fear affects just a few thousand people in Britain and treatments for the condition include “psychological re-programming” to control the anxious response to seeing vegetables.