Obsessing Over Food

Even though I was diagnosed as a teenager with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (due to primarily overwhelming obsessive thinking I couldn’t seem to control), the majority of my obsessive compulsions as a child were centered around food.

Yes, I was that childhood friend, the one you invited over for dinner and wouldn’t eat any of the food at your house, save a hamburger bun with some ketchup on it. In fact, my diet was based largely on ketchup, usually with a side of a potato product or bread. We joked that I was a purveyor of “the white and yellow diet” because I would only eat foods that were white or yellow (minus the ketchup).

If the texture was wrong, I couldn’t eat it. If the color was wrong, I couldn’t eat it. If the taste was wrong, I couldn’t eat it. To ensure that all foods met my needs, I picked them apart thoroughly, looking for anything despicable in there that might turn me off before I ate them. This earned me the nickname, “the Inspector” -something that I thought was hilarious at the time but does sting slightly now.

I realize a lot of kids are picky, but this was much more intense. If the food didn’t fit my standards, I wouldn’t eat.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been introduced to new foods. New flavors, new textures, and I’ve come to appreciate that the crunchiness of a cucumber (though very difficult for me to handle previously) is something I’ve practiced eating and now enjoy. I stopped picking through food and have attempted to embrace the action of taking a bite blind… something that has gone well, up until recently.

A couple months ago I was at a Japanese restaurant and bit into a clump of sand that was swirling around the bottom of my miso soup. I was instantly repulsed, and the childhood voice boomed in my head, “see! Why didn’t you look for that??”

A few days later, it was a hotdog I was eating. I bit into the meaty cylinder into something hard. I threw it down immediately, and was green for the rest of the day.

A few days later I bit into a bone in a breakfast sausage at the hospital where I was getting my blood drawn.

After drinking a glass of water only to see a spot of black mold sitting at the bottom of the glass, the truth of my past came flooding back.

“You can’t trust it, you can’t trust food” it said.

Ever since it has been like taking one step forward and two steps back. I have banned all processed meats, including processed meats in casings in my diet. I am willing to eat ground meat, but only if I am cooking it myself and can personally guarantee what’s inside. No soup. No deli meats with rubs unless the rub has been concocted by me. And that is only the beginning. I can feel the window that I’ve worked so hard to open closing, and I feel helpless to stop it.

I’ve found crap in my food once a week for the last couple months, like some kind of cruel clockwork reminder. How is that possible when I’ve gone years without anything like this happening? It is all I can think about, and when I stop thinking about it for a second… something else goes horribly wrong and I wind up with a mouth full of something inedible.

I realize the issue here is that I am too sensitive. One wrong move on my food’s part is enough to make my world come crashing down, and then obsess over it for days, weeks… even months at this point. Really, as a child, finding a bug in my food was on par with finding onions in there, and I’ve been able to get over the onion bit. The bugs though (minus fruit flies in my tea) -not so much.

This is something important to me, as I’ve been extremely proud of the changes I’ve made in my eating habits and my thinking (even if not as permanent as I hoped) and I expect that when I talk to my new psychiatrist this is going to be one of the things that needs to come up.

In the meantime I will just have to retreat into the world of potatoes and eggs and macaroni. Perhaps pulling back my forces will allow me to muster for another all on food assault.

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3 responses to “Obsessing Over Food

  1. Have you ever considered counseling to help you better understand why u do this? I bet you are physically tired a lot. Not getting the proper foods can wreak havoc on your energy level. Keep fighting!!

  2. You are not too sensitive! Only food should be in food!

    Just view this as a time to learn to cook something new that usually scares you at a restuarant. Pick out all the perfect ingredients yourself, and use this “retreat” as a springboard forward!

    Funny eggs are your safe food tough. They are one of my never ever foods due to some traumatic experiences with “free-Range” eggs as a child. I’m better now with food, but I for sure notice myself cotnroling food more and more the higher my anxiety, or my sense of out-of-control-ness.

    Any time I feel like I’m loosing hold of my emotions, or control of the future I tend to get VERY strict about what I can eat that won’t make me sick. I try really hard to transform those feelings into incentive to cook a new dish or spoil myself at the grocery store, but often it ends with me not having eaten by 10 pm and making white noodles with nothing on them just to quite the tummy grumblers.

    Here’s to a new week with new chances to make good choices!

  3. And here I thought I was the only one with food texture and appearance issues! This is actually very reassuring, as I’ve been this way since I was a child and it’s only gotten marginally better over the years. If you Google the term “picky eater” you’ll see my picture next to the definition. I don’t know if repeated exposure to the offending substances works, because I’ve tried it and at age 55 I still can’t eat things like salami (all those gritty black objects), real mashed potatoes (lumps) or beef with a lot of fat on it (slimy). Brrrrrr….gives me the shivers just thinking about it :-p

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