1. News
  2. /
  3. Florida

Florida man has eaten almost nothing but mac and cheese for 17 years

The 20-year-old Keystone Heights resident has selective eating disorder believed to stem from childhood trauma.
Screenshot of Austin Davis from a Vice News documentary on Youtube. [Vice News/Youtube]
Published Oct. 16
Updated Oct. 16

He likes it best straight out of the pot, watching YouTube videos in front of his computer.

Sometimes it’s Kraft Deluxe, maybe a four cheese on occasion or Annie’s. Bob Evans is pretty good too, he said.

But for 20-year-old Austin Davis, nine times out of 10 he goes to his “ride or die” brand of original Velveeta Shells and Cheese.

For nearly 17 years, Davis, a resident of Keystone Heights near Gainesville, has eaten nothing but macaroni and cheese.

Vice News published a short documentary featuring Davis earlier this week.

“I don’t want to say I’m addicted to mac and cheese, because it sounds so weird,” he said. “But my body won’t let me eat anything else. I didn’t choose to be like this.”

According to therapist Asley McHan, Davis has a selective eating disorder known as avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, a mental condition where new foods can trigger negative physical reactions. According to the Center for Discover, the condition is often linked to traumatic events.

When Austin was a child, he was removed from his home and diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being physically abused by his father. He now lives with his grandparents.

Davis said the disorder has had a negative impact on his social life. He doesn’t eat out and maintains few friendships. He wants that to change.

“It’s weird for me to think of eating anything that’s not yellow,” he said.

The choice is not voluntary. Davis said he’s actually sick of eating the same thing and has occasionally tried other foods. His body, however, will reject even something he thinks tastes good.

“As soon as it enters my mouth it’s like a sensory overload,” he said. “Even if I like what I’m trying, I’ll have an involuntary gag.”

Davis knows it’s bad for his health and has sought help in the past but said he had trouble finding a therapist who understood his disorder and would accept his insurance.

He now drives 90 minutes to visit McHan.

“He’s truly motivated to do this work,” she said.

He also works out four times a week, mostly boxing, to try to stay in as good of shape as he can.

“I definitely know that I have to maintain physical activity to keep myself fit,” Davis said. “It’s to counteract my terrible, awful carb-filled diet.”

His coach, Giovanni Cruz, has told him that he’d have to eat better if he truly wants to get in shape, but understands the struggle and the stigma of living with mental health issues.

“When it comes to mental health issues you, if you can’t talk about what’s going on, then you can’t get the help you need,” Cruz said. “I feel like a lot of men think that’s a weakness when it’s not. If there’s a problem, the weakness is ignoring it.”


  1. Maintainers prepare KC-135s refueling planes to be evacuated from MacDill Air Force Base in August. A new study predicts MacDill and other Florida bases will experience a sharp rise in the number of days when the heat index tops 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it unsafe to be outside for extended periods. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    MacDill Air Force Base is predicted to see big increases in days the heat index tops 100 degrees.
  2. 6 hours ago• Arts & Entertainment
    A visitor feeds the pelicans at the Pier Bait House in St. Petersburg in 2010. Tampa Bay Times (2010)
    Plus, an expert explains how their pouches work, what to do if you catch one on a fishing hook and more.
  3. Earlier today• Arts & Entertainment
    Pelicans sit on a pier along Boca Ciega Bay in Pass-a-Grille. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    An old limerick ignites a quest for recognition for the big-billed friends of the city.
  4. Sam's Club fulfillment center manager Nick Barbieri explains to a shopper how the new Scan & Go shop works at 5135 S Dale Mabry Highway. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Shoppers in Tampa Bay can now skip the line and cash out alcohol on their own phones.
  5. One of a pair of orphaned panther kittens is being examined by the staff at ZooTampa. The pair, named Pepper and Cypress, so far have shown no signs of the ailment that led to their mother's death, zoo officials said. Courtesy of ZooTampa
    The mother had to be euthanized because a mysterious ailment left her unable to walk.
  6. In this Amber Alert made available by the Jacksonville, Fla., Police, shows an undated photo of Taylor Williams. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, authorities in Alabama say they have found human remains while searching in the woods for Williams. The child was reported missing from her Jacksonville, Fla., home last Wednesday. (Jacksonville Police via AP) AP
    Taylor Rose Williams’ mother, who said her daughter disappeared from home overnight, was charged with child neglect and giving false information to investigators, according to investigators.
  7. St. Petersburg's new 26-acre Pier District, with components that will include a coastal thicket walking path, marketplace, playground and pavilion, is nearing completion. Shown is the tilted lawn in front of the Pier head building that is being created  with Geofoam, soil and grass. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    St. Petersburg hopes to sell naming rights in the Pier District — available for annual payments of $50,000 to $1 million for 10-year terms — to help offset taxpayer subsidies.
  8. A flag supporting President Donald Trump flutters near the University of Florida's Century Tower before an Oct. 10 appearance on campus by Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle. A controversy over the political nature of the event has led to calls for the impeachment of Student Body President Michael C. Murphy, who helped set it up. Courtesy of Chris Day
    A push to oust Student Body President Michael Murphy comes after an email surfaces, suggesting he worked with the Trump campaign to bring a political speech to campus.
  9. Flood-elevation requirements for permanent Florida Keys homes could mean local ‘tiny homes’ wind up with more square footage than most of the diminutive domiciles. Courtesy of Bayview Homes
    “We cannot keep building the way we always have and expect a different outcome in future disasters.”
  10. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Michael Patrick Nealey, 49, was arrested Monday morning and charged with killing Lucky Miller at a Hilton hotel.