British Girl Can Only Stomach Tic Tacs

They are normally the thing people eat at that point in a restaurant when you’ve ploughed through a pile of garlic bread, spaghetti and cheesecake and are too full-up to face anything else.

But for 17-year-old Natalie Cooper, the mints alone are the meal.

For as long as she can remember Natalie, from Oxford Road, Shepway, Maidstone, has been afflicted with a mystery illness that makes her sick every time she eats anything.

Anything that is, except that smallest of mints: the Tic tac.

For reasons that doctors are unable to explain, Tic tacs are the only thing she can stomach, meaning she has to get the rest of her sustenance from a specially formulated feed through a tube.

But as she explained, she certainly doesn’t have an aversion to food.

“I like eating everything you’d expect” says Natalie, “I enjoy eating, it just comes back up. It happens pretty much immediately and it’s no effort.

“I really like chocolate cake; I just can’t leave it alone.” Only through experimentation did the teenager finally discover the unique qualities that set Tic tacs apart from other foods.

“I can’t remember exactly when I found out. I used to be able to eat mints after food; when they started to come back up I started reducing the size of the mints.

“I went from Trebor Extra Strong Mints to Polos and ended up with Tic Tacs. They give me a bit of energy but I eat them mostly to get rid of hunger; it’s a psychological effect.”

Natalie’s matter-of-fact approach belies the impact of the illness on her life. At one point her weight dropped to five stone, but she has since battled back to more than seven stone.

Recently Natalie was rewarded for triumph over adversity at the Kent Try Angle Awards, which recognise the achievements of young people, at Margate Winter Gardens.

She added: “There are days I really hate it but most of the time I’m just like, 'whatever’.

“I can’t last as long as everyone else. I did have a job but at a shop, but the six-hour shift was too much.” She hopes visits to other specialists in the near future might lead to a breakthrough and cure before she leaves home to go to university.

Her mother, Sharon Cooper, said: “She’s going to have a gap year and we’re hoping a second opinion will find something different. It was quite upsetting at first; they thought it was going to be bulimia , but I knew it wasn’t.”

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