Food foibles

So I think I’m a mild food hoarder. Or that I have some weird food obsessions. Or both. I’ve known it for years but mostly lived alone as an adult which made it easier to deal with.

When I [finally] settled down and got married, I found that I had to work to overcome some of my food foibles. Well, actually I didn’t have to overcome them—Paul accepted them and just played my little games.

(All the while, Paul would point out how crazy I was being and remind me that we can just buy/make more of whatever food I wanted.)

Basically, my deal is that I will panic if I think that I’m not getting my fair share—or more. A normal meal of normal food won’t trigger panic, nor will going out to a traditional restaurant where I order my own meal. No, panic situations for me are buffets, pot lucks, and parties with hors d’oeuvres; shared foods like pizza, chips, and buckets of popcorn; and divided foods like a slice of cake or pie.

I really do panic if I think there won’t be enough of something for me. To solve the problem of panic, Paul would always give me the bigger half of whatever we were splitting and we’d have separate containers of popcorn. Now, almost always I would eat what I wanted then give the rest to Paul—meaning he still got more—but if he got the bigger piece to start with I would have felt panicked.

I hoard food, too. Not proper food, but junk food. I have candy and junk food stashes everywhere: In the kitchen and living rooms at home; in my office; in my car; and even in my handbag. As long as my supplies are well-stocked, I’m OK. But when they start to dwindle I really do panic. I’m afraid that I’ll never get another Love Heart again. I worry that I may want pretzels and not have access to them. But if they are there and available to me, I won’t necessarily eat them. No, just the knowledge that they are there and that I can have them any time I want is enough to give me peace of mind.

I will fantasize for days if I know that there is a food event coming up. I salivate as I wonder what great nibbles will be at a holiday party. When going to the movies, I think for hours about my snack choices before the movie–and I’ve been known to watch a movie I’m not too keen on seeing just because I want the popcorn. I get really excited when I get to go for fish-n-chips–and even more excited when I know I’m going to a sweets shops. It’s bad. Really, really bad.

I realized that I had a problem when Paul and I went through our adoption training a few years ago. Apparently, food hoarding and other issues are very common in children in the foster care system and is often directly related to neglect and the instability of a food supply at some time in their lives.

I was never starved as a child—despite my insistence ½ hour before dinner that I was dying of hunger and really needed a snack. I was well-fed and never worried that a meal wouldn’t happen. BUT, there was a fight for food growing up in that the ‘best’ foods were gone fast. Everyone got a first helping of everything on the table, but with eight people around the dinner table, sometimes there wasn’t enough for a second helping of the favourite foods for everyone. Which to a kid is complete abuse!

Also, we rarely got desserts and snacks and candy. So when we did, we made the most of it. Looking back I know that we were raised with an extremely good, balanced, and nutritious menu. But I can also see how my food obsessions may have started.

I must have snacky foods available at all times now. When I fly to the UK I have a special check list of snack foods to take with me (sweet and savoury, chewy and crunchy) even though they’ll feed me on the plane. In fact—I almost never eat the food that I take with me, but the one time I didn’t take it I was a bit freaked out over it, so Paul insisted that I pack food no matter where we were going and how long we’d be gone.

A tip to friends and family: Always offer me the last chip. I will most likely decline, but being asked will make me feel secure. Also, be prepared to have separate buckets of popcorn if we go to the movies. And don’t ask for some of my candy, but don’t be surprised if I want some of yours. In fact, I will probably pick a candy that I know you hate just to be safe.

Yes, you knew I was weird and a little lot obsessive-compulsive, but I bet you didn’t know that I was completely off my rocker when it came to food!

5 thoughts on “Food foibles

  1. Oh gosh, I sat nodding along with everything you said, except the stashes of candy. I’m afraid of having candy BECAUSE I will eat it. But I have been known to eat before going to a pot luck or someone’s house for dinner because I am afraid that there will not be enough for me. I also pick the ice cream and the candy that my kids and husband don’t like so that I don’t have to share. And I was certainly well fed as a child and there were only 3 kids in my family. So how do I explain this behavior in myself?

    And don’t even get me started on what a 5 year old tantrum I throw if they forget part of my order or get it wrong. I usually won’t be mad at the restaurant or drive thru, but I will sulk. For quite a while. Jeff always offers me some of his so that I know I have a back up. I don’t think he knows why he does this, but he’s learned somewhere that I need to feel secure with my food.

    If you want to know my real psychoanalysis, I think it’s because I never felt like I could count on anyone to really meet my needs. Emotionally mostly, so I have turned to food as a steady, reliable (for the most part) friend who never lets me down. Sheesh, that sounds pathetic. But it’s true. It’s been veryhard for me to learn to share my food with my small children who wants bites, because that doesn’t leave me with enough! So I totally get this.

    And oh the wrath that will be incurred if I go to get a treat I have hidden and they’re all gone because someone else got there first!

  2. Interesting. I knew you always had to have candy. I remember that from high school. I don’t know if you have seen Office Space but this subject reminds me of Milton afraid he won’t get a piece of cake because they always run out. So when he learns they would be having cake, he makes sure to be the first in line, but he’s told to pass the cake down the line.

    I’ve always been the opposite. I let others eat before I get any myself and I always worry that others won’t get enough food if I eat too much so I always take small portions. I’m the oldest of four kids and we didn’t get enough food. I wonder if the worry of not enough food is part of the “middle child syndrome.”

  3. I don’t worry about having food or stash it. However, I do like to get “my fair share”. Growing up, in our household food was always rationed. In the sense that everyone got equal amounts of everything. Exactly equal. Especially treats. (So, if someone was hungry they could extra bread or muesli or apples or whatever, it’s not like I was denied food lol.) So there are two ways in which I worry over food. Firstly, is if we (my husband and I) have some kind of “nice” food that I like. I want to get half. He’s welcome to eat the candy I don’t like, and he’s welcome to eat his half whenever he feels like it. (Unlike in my house, when we generally used to have it at the same time!) As my husband is a muncher this means that at times I have to keep an eye on my favourite chocolates. If I hear a kitchen cupboard door open I’m like, “WHAT ARE YOU doing?” and run in to make his food for him so I know what’s going on :B The second thing is when it comes to regular dinner. I generally always give us equal portions.

    The worst thing about all this, is if my husband decides to get some kind of cake or something. I feel like I HAVE to have it too. This is what I am trying to overcome. He’s male, taller, and is active while working. So I really shouldn’t be ingesting as much as he does. I’m trying to get into the mindset of being happy when he eats all the food because then I will be less likely to get fat off of it lol.

  4. I love how Paul embraced your quirks and knew how to make you feel better 🙂

    For some reason, I always have to carry food while traveling too. Even if its just a bag of goldfish crackers, I must have a snack with me… and usually never eat it. Even when I get to the UK and my poor bag of goldfish are crushed all to hell, I still cant throw them out, and carry them back to the US where I finally throw them out.

    Anyway, thanks for the heads up so I can have lots of goodies on hand when you come visit someday 😉

  5. I don’t have that kind of food quirk, but I do have to enjoy my meals. If I have something to eat that isn’t good, I feel really cheated. I hate it if I choose something in a restaurant and it’s not good. I spend the rest of the meal kicking myself for not picking something else.

    I also hate it if anyone I’m with doesn’t like their food choice – I feel personally responsible. And if I’ve cooked it, then it’s a disaster – even if they don’t care.

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