While picky eating is characterized by only eating a small selection of foods due to the refusal of eating many familiar or unfamiliar foods, food neophobia is the fear of eating new of unfamiliar foods. Evolutionary history shows that food neophobia has protected humans from eating harmful foods that may cause sickness (Bowden, 2014). However, for individuals with food neophobia, encountering unfamiliar foods can cause severe anxiety or panic (Holland, 2019). Thanks to the rise of social media such as Youtube, a coping strategy that can help treat food neophobia is now accessible and popular. Mukbangs are videos or live-streams that broadcast an individual eating a large amount of food for their virtual audience. Originating in South Korea, the term loosely translates to "eating broadcast" (Braithwaite, 2019). For individuals with food neophobia, watching Mukbangs when eating meals can help reshape their perspective toward food.
Eating food is a sensory experience that involves a visual aspect (Braithwaite, 2019). Seeing food that looks delicious can cause feelings of hunger or a craving for that specific food. For people with food neophobia, watching Mukbangs of someone eating food that looks good can motivate them to feel hungry or want to try that specific food. Another way watching Mukbangs while eating may help individuals overcome food neophobia is the exposure to a positive eating experience which reinforces the idea that eating foods can be enjoyable. Seeing someone happily enjoying their food in a Mukbang video can associate positive feelings with eating food and therefore, help reshape their relationship with food (Bedingfield, 2021).