The Other Disordered Things

The weird thing about eating disorders (besides the bizarro aversion to eating) is that they can manifest into weird little habits that don’t have a lot to do with actually ingesting (or lack of ingesting) food.

Most “normal” people have prepare a meal on a plate.

They sit down.

 Use a knife and fork to cut bite size (about 1 inchX 1inch) pieces, chew a few times, and swallow.

Then they go nap or back to work or go have crazy animal sex….I guess it depends on the meal…

Anyhow, some people do weird-ass things with their food. If you are offended because you do such things, dont fret. I used to do them too. Let’s examine some of these bizarro things:

Cut, cut, cut: when I first went into treatment, I was a little shocked that after the clients received their plates of food, they spent a good half part of the meal time just cutting their food into teeny tiny pieces.

its a fucking pretzel, just bite it already!

I dont get what they were trying to do. Make the meal last longer? Hope that they are cutting away some calories? Maybe hoping to burn calories by moving their knife to and fro? Anyhow, this cutting was noticed by staff and thank goodness, one day a therapist announced at the table: “OK, I’ll give you 30 seconds to cut what you need and then I’m taking away your knives!”. Bless that therapist. Because anymore of that sound of knives screeching on plates and my ears would begin to bleed.

Taste Explosion: I think when you restrict your calories drastically, your taste buds get funky. I noticed a lot of eating disordered people dousing gag-worthy amounts of spices and flavor enhancers on their food.

I'll have salt with a side of food please!

Of course, most of these flavor enhancers would have to be calorie free. DUH! But these would use about half a bottle of Mrs. Dash on their steamed veggies, a salt shaker’s worth of salt on their spinach, or a pound of cinnamon on their oatmeal. I think the lack of food makes them crave the crazy, intense sensations of calorie free spices and such. Anyhow, this is why I never trust an eating disordered chef. Or at least hide the spices from them.

Snail Pace Eating: Sure, “fast” eating is a precursor to a tummy ache, but if it takes you an hour to eat an apple, you have a problem (unless you are a worm, but I don’t think worms read blogs). In treatment, all our meals and snacks were timed. This was torture for those people who ate food at a somewhat normal pace because this forced them to sit at a table full of girls who are still picking off the sesame seeds of their barely-eaten-burger bun. I’m assuming the reasoning behind this is to “make the meal last”..but seriously, it’s all going in the same place! Eating is fun, but I mean, how long does it have to take?!

"take your time...I'll come back when you finish next year"

I’m not saying any of this is bad and its nothing to be ashamed of. It might just be how you eat. Its only bad if all these things get in the way of other “life” things. Like if your late for work because you’ve spent an hour chopping your breakfast. And I’ll admit, at my worst I too cut my peaches into teeny tiny pieces without rhyme or reason. And after seeing all these other behaviors in treatment, I’ve let my own behaviors go and I realized how meaningless they were too me.

Because in the end, a pretzel will be a pretzel no matter how you slice it.

Have you noticed strange eating habits you or others do? If you are a recovered “werid” eater like myself, what helped you change? And just cause I’m curious, what do you do after a meal. Go to work, go to school, go anywhere, crazy animal sex???


47 thoughts on “The Other Disordered Things

  1. My initial thought was, “oh please, don’t those over-spicers with the zero calorie flavor enhancers know that such products aren’t really and truly “calorie free,” and when you do in fact use an abundance of them, their ostensibly negligible calories all too quickly add up.”

    Immediately proceeding second thought was, “wow,that first thought I had is even more whacked out then the very behavior your first thought was meant to call out ….you and your [you=myself here] diligent counting of ever so many shakes of whatever spice as ever so many calories….”

      • Truly. I mean, I literally add 20 cals per meal to my calorie count tally (which tally practice is in and of itself ridikkydikkydonkdonk) as a “spice cushion,” because I know that I shake with a heavy hand. I was also horrified to learn that I had been undercounting my diet soda calories. I used to count 24 ounces as around 5 calories, but now I’ve learned that, at least with respect to diet mt. dew, the calorie count is more like ten cals/per 24 ounce serving. Aaaaand when you chug two 2-Liter bottles a day….yeah, that’s a lot of calories for unhealthy chemicals. I find myself so hypocritical (well, for plenty of reasons, but chief among them –>) because though I EAT very healthy (generally), I DRINK total crap. Whatever. Everyone needs a vice, and if diet soda is one’s worst, then that’s not so bad. ….unfortch diet soda is not my worst vice…..but the internet is far too public of a forum for me to delve deeper there…heh…heh…anyway, great post! Oh, yeah, here’s another thing: I absolutely CANNOT begin a meal unless I’ve gone to the bathroom immediately prior. Also, b/c I make my meals last so long and I drink all of that damn soda, I usually go to the bathroom 1-2 times during each meal! I can’t abide the thought of eating if there is something like a full bladder to interfere with my eating enjoyment. Eating disorders are just too ironic. I really don’t get it.

  2. I laughed at so much of this post. Especially the “it’s a fucking pretzel” part. You are so funny.

    I saw a very very very slim gal at the fro yo place and I do believe that she was scraping about 1 microgram of yogurt on to her spoon for each bite, but to be certain, I would have needed to bring along my scanning electron microscope. I sat there and (per usual) inhaled mine and then wondered where the hell it went. Maybe I’m just jealous b/c I’m a fast eater and I really should slow down.

    I guess this does give me hope that I’m not a weird eater although I did get shit from a normal friend for dousing my breakfast egg whites/broccoli with cinnamon. And now years later, I do see that it was pretty fucked up. That was back in my lean year. Ah, memories.

    After a meal- dishes, dishes and more dishes@!

  3. my only *GAAH* around eating is that I. Cannot. Stand. hearing people chew. It FREAKS me out, I think it’s so gross. I have to have music or television or SOME kind of noise while eating. Thankfully Jason is so SO very patient (with all my quirky quirks) and does not mind.

    That goes for movie theaters, too… I cannot stand when it’s quiet and all I can hear is rustling of candy bags and soda cups and… People Eating. Good Lord, it’s TWO hours. Must you eat??

    I know. It’s kind of a thing. and these are my things. I know it’s me. 😉

    and since I’m totally off topic already, what happened to the layout and foodbuzz? Was there one too many penises inserted in your posts? Yes, I said it, and now I’m laughing.


    • ha no..I’m self hosting my site and moving it over soon so the ads will be there. shockingly, foodbuzz still wants me as a publisher clearly they dont read me blog!

    • oh and you and Janetha should be BFFs, she hates chewing!

      On Tue, Jul 5, 2011 at 11:54 PM, Eden Dranger wrote: > ha no..I’m self hosting my site and moving it over soon so the ads > will be there. > shockingly, foodbuzz still wants me as a publisher > clearly they dont read me blog! >

      • And don’t ever go to the movies with Derek. He waits til the quiet, deep part and then busts out the most noisy candy wrappers EVER. Yah, he’s on the receiving end of many a stink-eye. Mainly from me. 😕

  4. I will vehemently defend my anaconda friends for their slow eating. Those caimans are big, damn it!

    Agreeing with Kristina. Keep it in your mouth and on mute. When I first went to college I had no idea it was an Asian custom to loudly slurp noodles. My roommate was Filipino. That was a culture shock in the literal sense — I cringed every time she went near a bowl for the first few weeks.

  5. Yea, when I was in treatment I definitely remember nearly all the girls DRoooooooooowned their food in Cinnamon. Especially yogurt/oatmeal type things. I had never done that before I had gone there, so I started feeling left out and tried it out for a bit. It enhanced the flavor but it started making me sneeze if I put too much. Must be my annoying allergies.

  6. I am totally with you ladies on the chewing thing. I don’t want to see it, okay?

    I try to make mealtime a “sacred time”, but more often than not I’m rushing to and from something or another. I figure when I’m eighty and retired I can take as long to eat as I’d like.

    I am weird with seasonings. Sometimes I want them and sometimes I don’t. But I don’t view it as a strategy in some way, more like a necessity! Refried beans without cumin and coriander is SO sub par haha.

  7. I was in treatment with a lady who would put one strawberry on her plate and slice it razor thin. Then she would pick up each piece with a fork and eat each slice, chewing 20 times. She did this before treatment but she was on Oprah, so I saw it. It was sad.

    I can’t stand chewing or teeth noises either. When my hubby eats peanuts or almonds, I have to get away!

    I dont like eating in front of others. It’s almost scary sometimes how much alike ED suffered are alike. I read Sophias latest post and was floored because it was exactly like me. I was going to comment but it was so overwhelming that I haven’t yet. But I am amazed at the same thoughts and habits we have – and it’s completely on our own and not like we read a book on how we are supposed to behave. Very bizarre.

    After I eat? I usually am on computer while eating, so I just continue to read or go to bed.

    • Sophia’s last post floored me, too.
      Her ED series is such a blessing for so many people benefit from reading it and she is such an inspiration.
      She has called out my BS so many times…I didn’t even know it was BS until I read what she says or she leaves a comment with me.

    • What is ironic, is that all of these things are ‘tips’ that mainstream ‘fitness’ magazines give for overweight people to lose extra weight: cut up your food, chew X times, put your fork down between bites, use smaller plates, ‘condiments are your friends’ bla bla bla. I suppose that it’s a problem when taken too far? But it is frustrating b/c it probably starts off well-intentioned!

  8. Most usually after a good meal I just kick back on the couch. Sometimes I’ll take a walk or something – I don’t really pay attention all that much. Haha.

    And maybe the weird cutting thing is to help them eat slower? Like if it’s in bite size pieces they can chew on one tiny morsel until next month and then start on the next the month after? That would be my best guess…

  9. I dated an Asian for a year and a half. The chewing/slurping thing drove me crazyyy, especially at family functions where everyone ate that way. *Shudder*

    I still hate eating in front of people. And I hate when people comment when I eat a lot of something, it makes me feel so guilty even if it’s totally a normal, appropriate amount for whatever I’m eating.
    Back when I was super intense about set calorie amounts for my day (which actually were pretty close to what I seem to need even when I don’t consciously count all day…), I would sometimes replace actual meals with a meal-sized amount of precisely counted tastes/tiny serving of almost anything I had sitting around. A few crackers, 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, 1/2 T of peanut butter, 2T of raisins, etc until I hit 550cal or whatever… This often triggered binging at some point later on in the day/week, so it was totally counterproductive. But I didn’t even notice how insane and effed up that was until I started forcing myself to eat real meals three times a day.

  10. In my “more disordered” days I never had the tiny pieces, elaborate time rationing habits that you describe but they are TOO common. Sometimes I wonder if many of these behaviors are adopted during the early onset of the disorder because…well…you read books and crap and that’s what anorexics are “supposed” to do. Right?
    So, I never got into that but I swear there is a biological component that makes you WONKY when you are starving (literally). The taste explosion effect is a PRIME example of that.
    I also found my mouth would water at things I absolutely did not want to eat nor would I ever. Like your body craves fat and the idea of drinking olive oil would make your stomach growl. So weird. Or just wack combos. I recall sprinkling splenda on pepperoncini and dipping them in mustard. Yeah….
    I also am still conquering a predelection for utensils and plates. It seems like I have to have “the right” size or …well…I just like it that way. No butter knife for me unless I am spreading peanut butter. Don’t even try (0:

    Such a good post, Eden. It’s interesting to share this nitty gritty stuff with people who’ve never “been there.”

      • Nah…books like “Wasted” by Marya Hornbacher…she goes into intimate detail about her experience and there are other books … It is common for people with EDs to mimic the behaviors. I’m in a support group with a girl who went out and bought chopsticks after reading that Portia De Rossi used them when she was crazy. Stuff like that.
        Didn’t mean to come off sounding so daft…but, I am kind of daft (0:

  11. With braces, I had to cut everything up. It was pretty ridiculous when I had to ask for a knife and fork for burritos and sandwiches. Even without braces, I now prefer to eat burritos with a knife and fork so I can get to all the fillings. :p

  12. The way my brother in law eat is more funny than annoying.
    He won’t let any of his food touch. Ever.
    First, he gets the “meat” of dinner – chicken, london broil, whatever. Cuts it aaaaaall up, douses it in Italian dressing and then eats it.
    Then, he gets part 2 – usually the starch. Noodles (no slurping), potatoes…also swimming in dressing
    Next, is the vegetable. Maybe. But always bathed in dressing.
    Sometimes, we repeat step 1.
    He doesn’t have any type of disordered eating, he just doesn’t like the foods to touch because “it messes with the flavor”.

  13. I am a total over-spice person, but I actually think that it is because I am a smoker. I know, the horror. (and yes, I read and therefore know smoking is bad for me…) but anyways, every time I have tried to quit — my taste buds got crayzieee. Food in general tasted so ‘off’ .. and super flavorful but not in a good way.

    • Yea, a lot of professional chefs are smokers. A lot of my instructors in culinary schools smoked and I’d have to overload on salt in order to get a good grade!

      I’m not gonna preach about how smoking is bad for you….but just think about all the money you’ll save! A pack costs 9 bucks in NYC!

      • but then how would I justify all of our vacations to Mexico to get my smokes for 2.50? lol No, I have tried to quit, actually multiple times (patch = allergic, gum = tastes like what I imagine butt would taste like.. my next attempt is going to be that electric cigarette thing)

  14. Oh god- I put a crapload of salsa and mustard on my food. I think I have a salt problem…
    also, for some reason I like having small candies in pairs- one for each side of my mouth. I told my mother this and she said she COUNTS the blueberries in her morning cereal- she likes approximately 40. “approximately,” she says- um, mom that sounds pretty effing specific. I can see I have genetics NOT on my side on this OCD crap.
    also, I roll tortillas before I eat them. It gives them a better texture, and then you can dip them in things.
    I’ll stop before I sound any more odd. A soft pretzel sounds really good right now, btw… are they hard to make?

  15. Oh yes, I used to eat an apple in a whopping two hours 🙂 It was like, a bite every 30 minutes. When I was in IP, there was a rule where if you didn’t eat all of the food on your plate, you had to drink Boost (gack!). I found it so weird how a lot of girls would opted out of tater tots or whatever to drink that shit. I rather eat any kind of food than Boost.

    And we had to play the stupidest games and make awkward conversation while eating to distract us from the food. It didn’t work. I still was inwardly gagging at the thought of eating Fruit Loops or a pudding pack for a bedtime snack….

  16. I was never a slow eater so meals at inpatient treatment were so hard to sit through. Some of the girls would compete to be the last one done by going as far as to put food in their mouth and then take it out if the other patients didn’t take their last bite.
    I had some weird habits, mostly just eating the same thing every single day and at the same time. But as I let go of the eating disorder thinking, I have gotten way better at being more spontaneous with my eating.

  17. During the time my family lovingly (in crazy denial) refers to as the “time Tiffany had an eating problem” – I used to go and put my food out on the back of my Grandma’s Cadillac. I’d play basketball. I’d shoot a few hoops, I’d eat a bite, I’d shoot a few more. IN SANE. It would take me sometimes 3 hours to eat a small piece of ham and a small serving of Mac and Cheese. Dumb.

    Now, I can eat an entire box of mac and cheese and, really, just give me the pig. I’ll eat it. whole.

    Oh, and just so you know I no longer have an “eating problem” – unless you consider wanting to eat a pig whole a problem.

  18. snap with the whole slow, cuttting dodgy habits of the girls arounf me while i was an inpatint. it really shocked me the first few days and we had i hour to eat i had to actually slow down as i would be done in 20 and evil eyes from them . thank god for my unasamed ability to use the staff to talk to during meals help kill the boredom of the quiet girls. lucky for mr after three weeks a girl came who was like we are and joined in my mindless rambles so meal tmes = fun times yey!

  19. I feel like I eat waaaayy too fast, but I usually don’t pay attention enough to slow down before my food is practically gone. I don’t know why, since it’s not like I had to eat up quick as a child or my food was gone, or something.

    After a meal I…do dishes. Lame, I know. Depends on the meal though – usually after lunch I go back to work (when I am working), after dinner I watch movies…single lady enthralling.

  20. hahaha i think one of the weirdest habits i have is creating ‘the perfect bite’ which i totally learned from barbara striesand in that movie the mirror has two faces haha i just love having a taste of everything on the same bite! my mom on the other hand can’t handle it when food touches other foods on her plate

  21. I am not fond of the food mingling. Different foods on my plate should remain in their given corners. when I was in treatment one girl drooled at every meal. It was pretty gross, I tried to never sit directly across the table from the drooler.

  22. When I was in a coo-coo phase I doused everything with salsa. Every. Thing. I think it does have to do with craving some sort of intensity in an otherwise bland (eggwhites) meal. As for my post meal activities – nap. Sorry, wish it was humpin’.

  23. I DEFINITELY did the “drown the food in salt and/or splenda” maneuvers. And ditto with the slow eating. I’ve always taken longer to finish a meal than most people, ever since I was a kid, but at one point it would literally take me almost an hour to consume an apple (cut into exactly 8 pieces every time, of course, and served on the same plate every time, of COURSE).

    I’m weird about utensils and dishes; I definitely have certain ones I use ritualistically at home. I’m fine in other settings where I don’t have them, but when they’re available I “have” to use them the “right” way.

  24. Well, I have this THING about my foods not touching each other n the plate – the chicken, rice and peas each have their own space with definable blank space in between. at a restaurant where I can’t control the plate I just don’t eat any bits of food that have touched each other. Yeah. weird.

    I used to have a tiny, tiny appetite – from the time I was a kid. And I was a pretty slow eater. For the past year and a half I’ve been on high doses of prednesone. “Can cause increased appetite” Uh. Yeah! Now I want to eat the plate, too. And I can polish it all off in under 5 minutes. Sheesh. Takes me enormous self control – I just try to remember how I used to eat and mimic it.

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