My Secret Eating Disorder
This article came about from our holiday in Cornwall during the summer of 2009. I kept a diary whilst on vacation, with the purpose of writing it up as a page on my blog when I returned home.
One little snippet I wrote about was the way in which I eat chips (fries). This was a truthful, but lighthearted piece about the order in which I have to eat them, and was designed to make people smile, but Oh Boy! Did I open a can of worms.
Everyone who read those few paragraphs about my chip-eating neuroses had a story to tell or their own eating habits. Some of these were funny, but some were equally distressing, or appeared unfathomable to the outsider.
This set a germ of an idea percolating away in the back of my mind, which has given rise to this Hub. I'm publishing my fry eating habit here, plus, with permission, a few other people's eating habits.
Become Part of a Published Book
It seems everyone has a story to tell; what I would like to do is put together an anthology of many people's eating habits, disorders, patterns and neuroses and ultimately (if I have enough stories) publish it in book form.
Please type your story in the comments box at the bottom of this article. You can remain anonymous if you wish, by putting a pseudonym. Please don't put contact details in this box, but if you wish to contact me, you may do so through the email tab on my profile page.
As the stories build up, I will copy them into the body of the article.
Our society portrays a view of 'normal' eating that includes a family sitting at the table eating and talking together, using cutlery, napkins, plates and reasonable portion sizes. Your stories tell me something completely different.
Many of you struggle to have a healthy relationship with food, some barely able to eat at all and showing all the signs of anorexia nervosa, whilst others of you can't find the off switch, cramming food in your mouth to the point of exhaustion and becoming obese.
This article is not attempting to trivialise any of these things, but rather to show that so many people have eating habits that are not considered 'normal,' that it's actually more 'normal' to have some sort of neurosis around food, and to not fit in with the idealised picture of healthy eating.
Food and eating is far more tied up with our emotions than just satisfying basic hunger. So Onward:
Georgina_writes eats fries
It's important that I eat chips in a certain order, but first I have to choose my chips. Now, french fries are just that, fries, so I'm not too concerned about the order in which they're eaten. They're pretty much mass produced and uniform in shape and texture, so I don't care. The problem comes with what I call real chips. These are the sort you might have in a chip shop, or a pub meal. It's the fat, hand-cut style of chip that throws me into a spin.
What you see is a middle aged woman eating her meal, chatting to others at the table. What is actually going on in my head is a frantic categorisation and prioritising of the chips.
Others at the table think they have my full attention, but they don't! My mind is busy elsewhere, deciding how to eat my chips. The first to be eaten are quite large, nicley oblong, golden brown and quite chunky. They should have just the right mix of crunch on the outside, softness inside and have a little oiliness to them (actually a lot of chip shops still use beef lard). I really can't stomach chips which have been overly drained of oil. I will pick out all of the good ones and eat them first. Next, I will eat any crispy, overdone pieces - the oilier the better - and finally, I will eat all of the small, odd-shaped pieces.
In many respects, this anal prioritising of my fries is pointless, because the other aspect to this disorder is that I must eat all of the chips, regardless of whether I am hungry or not. In fact, who has a plate of chips and leaves the meal hungry. I will eat the chips until there are none left and I feel absolutely stuffed with food. It is not possible to leave fries on the plate. Even the rejects must go.
Everybody chant with me 'I am not anal...I am not anal...I am not anal...
Ok, maybe I am just a bit. When I was a kid I used to have to get dressed in a certain order, starting with the right or left side of my body and apologising to the other side, promising to make them first the next day... 'Good morning left sock, on you go...sorry right sock, you'll be first tomorrow...'
I digress, but what is normal?
Debbie Jones's Story
Debbie Jones' father was a master butcher. Every day he would bring home waste meat for their numerous pet dogs.
Debbie just couldn't stomach the family meal, barely able to eat anything that was put in front of her - it was revolting, sickening almost. But, in the evenings after the family had dispersed, she felt compelled to eat the raw waste dog meat from the butcher's shop, sharing it with the dogs.
Is this normal? What's normal. Was she physically healthy? Yes - didn't do her any harm.
In fact, listening to some of the stories people have told me, eating in secret is a huge part of people's eating patterns, so much so, that secret eating must actually be normal. Who knows, maybe it dates back to primeval man, where you'd grab your part of the kill and drag it away from the pack so you'd keep your share. Here's another example:
Marie's Secret Eating Disorder
Marie is an intelligent, well educated, attractive woman with a svelte figure. she is happily married to a guy who's so proud to be with this gorgeous woman. He marvels at her ability to stay slim (she's a UK 10/US 6), wonders at how she doesn't fade away when he looks at the amounts she eats. He's amazed that she has enough energy to keep going. Marie rarely has breakfast, she may allow herself a biscuit or a piece of fruit for lunch, but sometimes has nothing, and when they sit down to supper she has a salad, no carbs and a tiny piece of meat, or just a yoghurt.
Hubby frequently praises Marie's self control and beautiful figure to friends. At night, she waits for him to drift into sleep, then sneaks downstairs and secretly eats a whole day's worth of calories straight from the fridge, standing in the kitchen. She cannot allow herself to savour the food, it must be gulped down, ears straining to hear a footstep on the stairs lest she be discovered.
This has been going on for years and is quite exhausting, but such a big chunk of Marie's relationship with her husband is based on her secret relationship with food, that she feels it's impossible to change now without catastrophic results.
Is this normal? It's certainly very common, there are many Marie's out there.
So, we can see that the idea of family meals at the table is a real struggle for some. If you want to share your eating habits then put them in the comments box below. I've written one example in there just to get you going. They may be funny, weird, sad, mad or anything in between - it's your story...