Food Mutilation: A Quick Note

I’ve heard my food habits called ‘cute’, ‘unusual’, ‘annoying’ and ‘obnoxious’. For the most part, I ignore these praises/accusations and continue in my ways, because that’s the only way I feasibly can. To be clear, here are the habits I’m talking about:

  • I can never eat a ‘whole’ piece of food. I always, always cut slivers off of a food item (be it chocolate, bread, cheese or a dried date), and leave partially-eaten remnants in the bag. Usually, I’ll return to my remnant throughout the day and finish it in the same way: in gradual slivers. Whenever I’m offered a piece of candy, I immediately cut it in half, to the dismay of the offerer.
  • I steal food. All the time. When I’m not caught, it’s not a problem. If someone leaves food out, or has something delectable in the fridge or pantry, I can’t control myself. Usually I justify it by saying, “I’m just so hungry, I can’t help it.” Obviously, I try to only steal in small amount so that it’s not noticeable.
  • I hide food. In my room, in secret parts of the kitchen, etc. Not so that people won’t take it, necessarily… more so that I won’t be tempted by it, or maybe that I will be. In any case, I receive the brunt of shock when someone finds my stash of hidden food under the sink, or in my underwear drawer.
  • I take food off of people’s plates. Sometimes without really asking. At restaurants. I’ve been yelled at copiously by friends and family, but I do it anyways. Especially when someone goes to the bathroom, I take the food off their plate. I usually get caught.

The pattern in all of these ‘habits’ is that I am, in one way or another, mutilating the food that I’m eating, or otherwise mutilating the process of eating and food sharing. With the food-breaking and half-eating, which folks tend to find more amusing than anything, I know that it’s a result of my anxiety around food. See, if I eat two halves of a cookie at separate times, it feels less nerve wracking than eating an entire cookie at once. It’s nonsensical. It’s also extremely common in people with eating disorders.

With the remaining habits of hiding and stealing, I think it’s more to do with the fact that I’m always starving. Even when I’m not starving, I am. I steal food most often when I am restricting below 1000 calories per day, and enter fits of ravenousness. When you’ve had no breakfast or lunch, it suddenly doesn’t matter whose stir fry is sitting on the stove. I’ll be there dangling noodles into my mouth furtively until you catch me and rat me out.

I’ve always known at some level that my disturbed food habits are all related to my ongoing and chronic eating disordered-ness, but have never fully acknowledged it this way. So I’m taking a moment to acknowledge it. I know a few folks who have “fully recovered”, who refuse to share food, who never eat in halves, and who never cut their food into unnecessarily small bits. It makes it even more clear to me that my funny, cute, troubling, annoying, and obnoxious food habits are a prolongation of the eating disorder. Oh well– I’ll go have another quarter of an Oreo now (my sixth quarter of the evening so far).

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