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Go Get Your Own!

Monday, June 14, 2010

I am not a food sharer. I really, seriously suck at sharing anything on my plate. I'm like Joey on Friends (ah, Friends - I miss that show) when he goes out on a date with a pretty girl and has to dump her because she took one of his french fries. You take my food - it's just not gonna work out between us.

This bad behaviour is especially difficult when you're in a relationship. And I'm in a relationship with a fellow foodie. We love going out to dinner at new places, ethnic restaurants, hidden gems of culinary delight...mmm. And while one little bite off each others' plates is fine and kinda cute (because I certainly don't mind digging into someone else's dish), any more than that and you might hear me omit a small, but audible, growl, moving my plate away from the wandering fork and hoarding it like Gollum. My Precious!

I have realized lately though, that this behaviour is also closely linked to my Clean Plate Syndrome and that by NOT sharing my food, I am more likely to eat more since I haven't quite mastered the "save half for later" skill. So what's a food hoarder to do but open up and offer some to the fellow diner? I shudder at the thought.

I guess it's no big secret anymore that I'm a secretive eater. I have used food for years for a variety of purposes, but one big one is so that I can have something all of my very own that no one else knows about. Those of us who have lacked enough privacy early on in our personal lives (read: loving but intrusive mother) need SOMETHING that is off-limits to everyone else, and food just happened to be my thing. In my youth I became the master of eating five Oreos - one out of each row - and putting the bag back EXACTLY where I found it so as not to arouse suspicion. I also ate random items like baking supplies (nuts, chocolate chips, etc.) that were in large enough containers a small handful here and there wouldn't be noticed. I ate things out of the downstairs pantry that had been put away for later, so that by the time someone noticed stuff was missing it was months later. Or conveniently for me, I could easily blame the theft on my two growing brothers and their never-ending appetites. I even snuck food during family dinners, right in front of everyone sitting at the table. I'd help myself to an extra serving here and there when I thought no one was looking, hoping no one ever questioned me about how much I was eating. The serving dish never made it by my place setting without just one more little bit ending up on my plate. I learned to binge on really bizarre food combos like Saltines and butter because they were always available, and because no one usually looked in the Saltines box unless someone in the family got sick. And I did all of this while no one was looking, while mom was at work, or while I was home alone. My little secret. Something that's all mine.

It's because this food is MINE, MINE, ALL MINE, (and has been for years) that I can't conceivably justify letting it go without somehow letting go a little piece of myself with it. If you eat off my plate, you may as well be taking a bite out of my arm, or my leg - or deeper down, my soul. I have needed my food to make me into a whole being - a woman with turkey legs, and pork shoulders and beef ribs and a mashed potato stomach - and sweets and treats on the brain all the time.

But just as I've been building myself up with food, I've also been building my wall to keep other people out - "You can't have a taste of my food, and you sure as heck can't have a piece of me." Until suddenly you wake up to the reality of the situation and realize that although you may have the love of food, you don't have a single, solid relationship with another human being that is worth as much to you as an evening at home with your couch and a bag of potato chips. This happened to me, quite recently. And when it did, I got very depressed and just wanted more potato chips.

Thankfully, my relationship with my stellar therapist was on track at the time and we got to sorting out this issue, and quick. Social eating is the LAST possible behaviour to be "fixed" in food addicts. EVERYONE - skinny, fat, athlete, couch potato - has social anxiety around eating. Everyone. No one is alone in this category. Everyone at the BBQ is wondering if so and so is watching what they put on their plate. Everyone at the birthday party is wondering whether or not they should really have a 2nd piece of cake. Everyone has issues with Thanksgiving and Christmas and sometimes Easter. We are only human. And oddly enough as humans, we are utterly and completely fascinated by each other and what we all eat.

As I've been working my way through this issue in my therapy and in my life, I have managed to loosen up a bit. SparkPeople has absolutely helped as well, but I'm finally learning to share. I'm learning to share not only my food, but my life as well. I'm working on breaking down my walls and getting closer to people - and letting people get closer to me. And when I'm full, I give what's left on my plate to my boyfriend - He of the iron stomach and the enviable metabolism. Not only does it help me stay in my calorie range, but it also helps me leave the table feeling good about myself and what I have accomplished.

I won't lie - I'm still mourning the loss of half a plate's worth of my breakfast burrito yesterday morning, but I'm moving on. I've got half a plate's worth of my Chicken Shwarma and Fattoush Salad waiting for me in the fridge for dinner! And tonight - it's MINE, MINE....ALL MINE...but really, if you want a bite, I'd be willing to let you try.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • KEC1974
    Oh my gosh! I see so much of myself in this blog post. Come near my plate and I will stab you with my fork!
    Isn't therapy awesome!
    Have a fantastic weekend!

    2867 days ago
    Wow, you could have written this for me.
    2868 days ago
    Wow...I always thought I was the only one who did this!!
    I know about butter and crackers and no one noticing...
    This was serious but it made me laugh and remember myself doing it...we grow we learn and it is never to late... emoticon
    2868 days ago
    Fantastic Read! Thank you for 'sharing' emoticon

    I am trying to 'evaluate' my binging and I think that sometimes I feel so "empty" that I just try to fill myself up with food. Does that even make sense? I thought I had it all figured out, but those really bad days happen.
    2868 days ago
  • KARENE10
    I'll let you have some food from my plate,but I totally get the weird food combos(saltines and butter),the eating baking supplies(choc.chips,nuts etc),and making the bag of cookies look like it hasn't been touched:) Great blog,and I think everyone DOES watch what everyone else is eating emoticon emoticon
    2868 days ago
    Awesome blog!! I totally relate to your food sneaking... I remember as a kid when I would sneak into the kitchen when my parents were watching TV. And I knew just exactly how to open the cookie jar without making a sound, all to get those extra few cookies a night that no one would know about. Thanks for taking a look at what makes us do these food hoarding games.
    2868 days ago
    Girl - you are so cute. I hear you about secretive eating - for sure. But I don't like people putting their stinky, grubby hands in my food because it's annoying, unsanitary and generally rude. I'm just sayin' - I think this might thoroughly reasonable behavior.

    It's your french fry, cutie. Keep on being fabulous and have a fab weekend.



    PS _ I am lovin' your blogs or maybe I am just lovin' you. Note to self: Stop by more often....
    2868 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/18/2010 9:08:56 AM
    Wow that was wonderful! I thought I am that lady she is talking about. emoticon
    2868 days ago
    I've read this blog four times now and I know in my heart of hearts I will read it again. The little girl in me, who generally sits quietly, started to talk after I read this the first time. I won't get too deep into this but your blog has awakened something inside and I realized I must do some mental cleaning and then healing.
    In reality; I too am like Joey (love that show by the way) when it comes to food and I am a secret eater since childhood.
    Thank you for sharing and giving my "little girl" the voice she needs so we can work through this together. It's time the madness ends .... someway, somehow.
    2869 days ago
    Oh my heavens, what a writer you are! You should seriously consider submitting this as an article to magazines. It's easy to relate to, your prose is right on, and your descriptions and details make it memorable. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading this.
    2869 days ago
    Great blog!
    2870 days ago
  • WYND10
    Great blog. I know what you mean about not wanting to share...but it's MINE! I am getting better with it too, but there is always that moment when my food is going toward their mouth that I just want to snatch it back. I hope that goes away in time.

    You should totally be a writer. :D
    2871 days ago
    I'll let you have it but good for you for offering. Thanks!
    2871 days ago
    Love the blog and I couldn't agree more.... everyone has issues with eating in front of people. When eating your cookies alone no one is there to judge how many you ate....
    2871 days ago
    Oh yeah, I was pretty masterful at eating but making it look like nothing was missing. Great blog.
    2871 days ago
    Rome wasn't built in a day! As they say. It sounds like you are making great strides and I'm glad to hear that you have sought professional help, a lot of people are too embarrassed to seek such help, but it can only be beneficial. Your self discovery, not only very articulately put, is also very inspiring. Keep up the good work on all fronts. emoticon
    2871 days ago
  • KARVY09
    This is incredibly honest and thanks for sharing with us. We've all been there. I used to eat food from the pan before I divvied it out so I felt like I got "more." It takes awhile, but once you get over that feeling of hoarding food, it is such a good feeling!
    2871 days ago
  • CHARLIE2213
    oh my god your description of your secretive eating is TOTALLY on point with my own. it's inspiring that you seem to be making progress with this, because this is definitely my biggest problem. i eat normal/small amounts around everyone else, and then secretly snack on everything in my the same manner as you did. taking bits here and there, hiding wrappers in the trash, "skimming off the top" so nobody would notice...

    good luck to you in your journey, and i believe in you with sharing your food! i bet you will even find it enjoyable in the near future!
    2871 days ago
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