Shrouding — Disordered or Not?
Heather’s recent post, “Helpful Hint or Disordered Eating” at Hangry Pants really got me thinking …
As Heather notes in her post, “For some time we’ve debated food destruction – ruining your food with something like salt or hot sauce so that it is inedible. Jillian Michaels pours candle wax on her food (thanks for the link Julie) when she is full, and instructs Biggest Loser players to destroy desserts with salt.”
While I think Jillian’s solution is on the extreme side, it saddens me to admit it’s not something I couldn’t have imagined myself doing back in the day of peak disorderedness.
Sad but true.
Looking back, I see I developed some unhealthy habits that started out innocently enough in college. In our dining hall (which was all-you-can-eat and quite amazing, all things considered — and catered by Sodexho Marriott), my friends and I used to shroud our food when we were done eating. We’d laugh about it and joke about how we were “shrouding.”
We did this because surely no one would dare nibble off their plate if a dirty napkin was on it! And often, we’d over-eaten at TDR (our dining hall) and would leave in a TDR food coma … especially after “Late Night” — which we’d go to a few times a week, usually for unlimited FF fro-yo or cereal … (because everyone needs cereal and fro-yo at midnight ;))
Anyway, that behavior started in college, long before my actual food issues began. Over time, after I lost weight on WW, I got more disordered in my food behaviors — taking a bite of something and throwing it out, putting condiments on something to avoid finishing it, (cringing as I type this) chewing and spitting into napkins (then later the trash or a plastic bag …) And I have to say, though I no longer chew and spit (it’s been exactly a year now!!), I still will sometimes shroud or throw perfectly good food out.
This really saddens my husband, who comes from a developing country where food is a gift and not a given right; it’s something to be savored … not destroyed. It’s very hard for him to see me destroying food or throwing food away. Naturally, he very much agrees with Mark’s perspective and wishes I just would eat what is in front of me or not buy it if I can’t (in my own words) handle having said food around.
But like Heather admits, I, too tend to be an emotional eater (and I’m a compulsive buyer … ) and while I try to recognize how disturbing these behaviors are, I don’t always succeed in stopping them.
I really like what Heather had to say here: “I have a tendency to emotionally eat or overeat eat simply because something is so completely delicious, so I empathize with the food destroyer. Mark, however, does not get that, and my arguments (but Mark, what if you just can’t stop eating the cookies!) fell on deaf ears. But, the more I thought, the more unconvincing my arguments sounded even to myself. Then I realized: food is not an opponent; there should be no YOU v. FOOD. By destroying food you are saying that food is something to be beaten and defeated, but food should be enjoyed and savored.“
There’s something ridiculously gratifying about going out to eat and NOT destroying my food; just eating for the sake of eating. It feels right; human.
Ultimately, destroying food gets us nowhere. It just puts power in the hands of an inanimate object, instead of in our own hands, where it belongs.
And when our heads are in the right place, I believe that decision-making process (to destroy/not destroy; buy/not buy; shroud/not shroud) will get easier and easier. I see it happening already. I destroy food/throw out food less and less as time goes on.
I really would love to get to the place where I’m truly living what she’s saying … but I’d be lying if I said I was there just yet. All I can do is give it my best, one day at a time. Eventually, I’ll get there. Because as I always say, I’m worth it. We’re worth it.
How about you? What do you think about these destroying-food behaviors? Do you do it/did you used to do it? Is Jillian’s advice a smart dieting hint or disordered eating in disguise? Or does it depend on who is receiving this advice?