Women's Weird Food Habits (Do You Have Some Too?)

One of my weird food habits used to center around The Peanut Butter. Photo by egarc2 from Flickr.

THE GIRL WHO DIDN’T EAT ANYTHING WHITE: I was just talking to a young woman yesterday who was really excited because she just had Greek yogurt for the first time. You see, most of her life, this girl had been avoiding anything white. Why? When she was a teenager, her mom told her that “white foods are the devil and will give you cellulite and make you fat.” Ohhhkayyyy. Her mom was obviously fearful about weight and wanted to avoid calorie-dense foods like sour cream or mayo. (She’s not the only woman I’ve met who didn’t eat white foods!)

THE GIRL WHO DIDN’T EAT ANYTHING COOKED: Another woman I know ate only raw food-raw veggies and fruits, unroasted nuts-for a few years. The raw food movement is kind of a hot thing now, and there are raw restaurants popping up all over L.A., but for this girl, her raw-food habit was really a way to slash calories and try to control what she thought was her uncontrollable appetite.

THE GIRL WHO MADE HER OWN “CANDY”: A weird old food habit of mine? If the craving to binge hit, I would make something sweet out of whatever was in the house at the time. Once I melted Kool-Aid powder and sugar in a pan for makeshift hard candy. More than a few times, I poured maple syrup or granulated sugar directly into a jar of Skippy and ate it with a spoon. Weird? Uh, yeah. But was I alone? Heck no-I had binge eating disorder, and so does one out of every 35 grown women.

How do you know if your “weird” food quirks amount to something more? These questions, from researcher Cynthia’s Bulik‘s new book Crave, are meant to help you figure out whether you have an unhealthy relationship with food:

1. Have I always had “issues” with food? (And I’d add: or your body)

2. Do I often wait to eat until I’m alone?

3. Do I have feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy after overeating?

4. Do I have a list of “bad foods” that I secretly crave?

5. Do I ever “black out” or “zone out” during overeating to the point where I barely remember, let alone taste, what I ate?

The answer to all of these used to be a big, fat yes for me. But through self-help, therapy and eating disorder support groups, not anymore! (Now I eat like this.)

OK, it’s your turn to share: Do you have any weird food habits? What do you think they mean?

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15 Responses to Women's Weird Food Habits (Do You Have Some Too?)

  1. Catie says:

    I’m so glad I found this website! I’m in the throes of BED right now. It sucks. And I have no idea how to make it stop, which is so frustrating and sad! How did you get over it? And, My weird food habits would be…eating the most random things all at once like cottage cheese, a cookie, peanut butter, then like soup or something and then barely remembering what I ate! It’s crazy!

  2. hlthygrl says:

    Hi Catie! I’m so sorry to hear that you’re dealing with BED. You’re right, it does suck. There’s just no way around it. I started out by reading Feeding the Hungry Heart by Geneen Roth, then a couple of her other books. I also did some one-on-one therapy-just the regular talk therapy, it wasn’t focused on the eating, but it did help. I started jogging, which really helped with stress and added another healthy coping mechanism to my toolbox. And I looked into a local eating disorder support group and started going to group sessions. It was AWESOME. I still go to this day, once a week or so. There’s nothing like being around people who get it. Who are just like you no matter how different you really are. What area of the country do you live in? I might be able to recommend something for you. In the meantime, I hope you keep coming back to HealthyGirl.org! I meant for this to become a place where girls and women can come together and talk about this stuff. Exchange advice and wisdom-get support and stop feeling ashamed. Have you checked out the forums? http://hlthygrl.49.forumer.com/ People have been too shy to post yet, but maybe you and I can get the convo started!

  3. tangent says:

    When I was in the throes of the worst episodes of COE/BE, I would spend insane amounts of money on food. After coming home from the grocery store, I’d open up all the bags, take a bite out of each piece in the bags, and throw about half a bag full of food away. To me and my irrational brain, I thought I had eaten without the consequences because I’d see bags of food in the trash bin. In reality I ate half of the servings in everything I bought. I’m glad those days are semi-over.

    • hlthygrl says:

      Yeah-binge eating gets expensive, doesn’t it? But you don’t even think of the money because all that matters is getting that food in you. Getting that relief. Sigh. So glad that’s not my life anymore. And it sounds like you’ve moved forward a bunch, too. :)

  4. Kyla says:

    I used not to have issues with food and my body. When I moved to another country, that’s when I started having problems with eating and my body. I use food for comfort, to combat boredom and God knows what else. I wish I could go back to the days where I didn’t have to think about food all the time. I know there’s more to life than just food and my body. I’m an achieve and a confident person but deep down, I am battling with this disorder. And none of my closest friends or relatives know this. I wish I could really just be normal. Like in the old days. I gained almost 8 kilos when I moved country. Now, I am back to my old weight. I am 5’2″ and weigh 44 kilos. I exercise everyday and watch what I ate. When I am surrounded with food, I lost control. I even take food straight from the trash bin. Yeah, I know. Utteringly disgusting. I wish I could get over this, just like you Sunny. And kudos to you for this site. Really, there’s more to life than thinking of what to eat next or how skinny I should be so that I could fit into my old jeans. But for now, I seem to be trapped in this ‘world.’

  5. Kyla says:

    I am currently reading two of the books you mentioned. :)

  6. Kyla says:

    I am half-way reading Feeding the Hungry Heart at the moment. I am so moved and inspired by Geene Roth’s writings, especially about dieting. I am moved into tears by what others what have gone through by sharing them on the book. Thanks for the lovely tip Sunny. Would you believe my thoughts and attitude towards food are slowly changing? Everyday, I affirm to myself that I eat for nourishment and that I exercise for strength. I used to see exercise as a punishment for eating. And it is very destructive that way. This is my body. I should love and take care of it. I still get the urge to overeat but at least for now, I am really trying to change and focus on healthy than calories/weight figures. To all of you reading this, please do yourselves a favor by reading the book. You and I are not alone in this struggle.

    I want to quote a line from the book, which I believe is very very true in my case- ‘For every diet there is an equal and opposite binge. Bingeing is part of dieting. When we go on a diet, we relinquish the responsibility of learning how to nourish ourselves. And sooner or later, it backfires, and we binge.’

    I will try to avoid saying diet. I will focus on healthy.

  7. Rachael says:

    Weird food habit?

    Eating in secret. Living in a tiny house & sharing a room made this difficult so I’ve eaten up a tree in the backyard and even eaten a block of chocolate …in the shower. Strange sensation, I don’t recommend it!

    Making pancakes but having the strongest desire to stuff my face then and there to curb whatever emotion I was having - so eating the whole batter raw.

    Eating something savoury only to need to balance it out with something sweet or vice a versa. Always had to balance the tastes.

    Eating in numbers. Never just “one” of something. Usually combination of 5’s. 5 dates, 5 dried apricots, 20 grapes, 25 sultanas

    Sunny I have a question for you. I understand you are a recovered binge eater, but what I wonder- does talking about this stuff everyday and immersing yourself within issues of body image/ eating issues help or hinder? Does talking about bingeing make you crave it? Because now I have chocolate on the mind.

    Sometimes I feel I just have to stop all my reading & research about food, eating disorders etc and just live life and forget about it. Other times I need to check in, be aware and feel connected.

    I’m just wondering how you find it?

  8. Yes, thankyou so much for leading up this blog. Anything for me that keeps me from being isolated in my struggles is the biggest salvation for me most of the time.

    I’ve done many of the things listed here, too- eating the batter of something before even getting to cook it and then making more so I could have it cooked as well, taking food out of a trash at a public place that ALREADY had a bite out of it (one of my MOST embarrassing moments), constantly feeling like i need to balance out the tastes in my mouth, feeling compelled to eat as soon as i walk through the door when I get home regardless of my true hunger or if I JUST came from a restaurant, finishing off leftovers or “bad” foods in the fridge because simply having them there makes me stress out about maybe eating them at some point (which doesn’t make any sense at all, hah)… but yeah.

    I’ve been battling this for years and years now (i’m a senior in college currently) and I’ve gotten to where the focus honestly isn’t about hating my body or comparing myself to others. It’s more about how I feel doomed to unhealthful cycles of detrimental habits and how those habits effect my level of discipline in all areas of my life as well. I just hate that I tend to avoid fully engaging in my school studies and relationships with people and my other extracurricular commitments by checking out into the realm of all things “food”-related… and how good things and interests (i.e. enjoying meals, being healthy and disciplined) can be distorted so easily into something harmful! *sigh*

    But last night I told my mom for the first time that I wanted her to be involved in my “food life” (i didn’t say it like that though, haha) because I can’t do this THE RIGHT WAY on my own… at least not for very long. I told her I needed someone who would ask me honest questions for specific answers, and that scares me… my mom and I didn’t have that kind of relationship when I was growing up. So I anticipate this to be very humbling process over the next two months.

    I hope to be able to share about fruitful progress in the next couple weeks!
    Thanks again, Sunny.

    *** my xanga that I have posted is where I am posting little bits here and there about my day-to-day. However, i think there is still some old stuff on there from the not-so-healthy-mindset days… I am not sure what’s visible or not, but if you happen to read that stuff, yeah… it’s the past. But it’s reality.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.