I dare say most people (especially women) are at least a little weird about food. Wouldn’t you? I got to thinking about this the other day, when I got a note from a friend asking for advice on whether she should take some supplements her fitness trainer was recommending. (I’m a health editor by day, so some people tend to treat me like Dr. Sunny—it’s fun!)
Anyhow, she was just describing her situation and why she’s working out so much and everything was going along fine until I hit one phrase in her email: “I just never feel like I can get thin enough.” Ding ding ding ding! That one line told me that this workout jag of hers may be about more than she’s admitted, even to herself. Does that mean she’s “disordered” or just that she may be a little weird about weight?
I’m not sure, but here are a couple other examples of women I’ve known who were weird about food—and then a quiz I found that can help anyone who’s wondering start to figure out if they may have disordered tendencies.
NOT EATING ANYTHING WHITE:
I was talking to a young woman a few months ago 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!)
NOT EATING 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.
MAKING YOUR OWN “CANDY”:
A weird old food habit of mine? If the craving for sugar hit and there wasn’t any dessert in the house, I would make something sweet out of whatever was around at the time. Once I melted Kool-Aid powder and sugar in a pan for makeshift hard candy. That wasn’t just a weird thing, it was part of my binge eating disorder.
How does someone figure out if her “weird” food quirks amount to something more? These questions, from researcher Cynthia’s Bulik‘s 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.
OK, it’s your turn to share: What are your weird food habits? How did you score on Dr. Bulik’s quiz?
[From the archives. Parts of this post originally ran in October 2009.]