Candy Hoarder/Sweet Tooth Fiend

If this boy was a girl ... it'd be me, circa 1988.
If this boy was a girl ... it'd be me, circa 1988
From our earliest memories, every Halloween and Easter and Christmas (ok any holiday where candy was involved), my brother, sister and I would sit down in the living room, bags, pumpkins, stockings, baskets turned upside down and trade loot while our parents watched on in amazement at how disciplined we were in our execution of the mighty trade.

We never fought about the deals being made (even as we got older), and if my mom said, “You can eat just one piece now!” we listened to her.

My brother, 27 now, always let my sister (25 now) and I have the best candy — he’d trade us his chocolate or jelly beans for nasty Sweet-tarts or Bottle Caps or Mary Janes.

To this day, he is like that; an absolute giver. I’m ashamed to admit it, but the more I think about it, I’m a taker. Especially when it comes to candy.

I remember the January our house burned down, and I was 8. I hoarded my Easter candy for like three months, no joke. It was a sickness, though we didn’t know it then.

I wasn’t one of those kids not interested in candy; no, no … quite the opposite. I’d just nibble here and there at my siblings’ candy and they, being only 6 and 4 at the time, were none the wiser. When we moved back to our re-built house that May, I still had my basket full!

When I was about 10, my siblings and our closest friends and I decided to open the business we dubbed “Candy Corner,” and proceeded to make a small fortune selling candy from the top of our cul-de-sac in our neighborhood for the next four summers. Any leftovers we had, after we divided them up, I hoarded my “loot.”

When I got to college, I noticed that I could never make a bag of M&Ms last as long as my best friend could. I didn’t put my fork down when I was feeling satisfied. I realized that I’d always “have to” finish the bottle of Snapple Grape-Ade, even if I didn’t want any more at the moment.

Though I didn’t know the concept of “deprivation,” (as I’d been deprived nothing growing up), I also didn’t understand the meaning of “save it for later.”

(Nowadays, I can easily save half my meal (when out) for tomorrow … but if it’s dessert … watch out!)

Then once I started WW and learned, early on, that “out of sight, out of mind” worked best for me when it came particularly to my sweet tooth.

About a year or so into my WW journey, I began to keep my chocolate or jellybean or candy corn stash “hidden” in my trunk or glove compartment. My friends would tease me about this.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want my roommates or friends or boyfriend-now-husband (when he visited me) to see it … but I often would bring said treat into the apartment and have to put it back in the car or chuck it within a day because I’d abuse it once and fear it happening again.

The thing is, I have definitely never been afraid to enjoy a dessert in front of others — in fact, sometimes I’d find myself going out of my way to eat in front of others, especially in the midst of my weight loss.

I wanted people to see me eating that Potbelly’s cookie (but half) or drinking that mocha (but skim, no whip) and realize I wasn’t depriving myself, that “Yes, it’s possible to lose weight and still enjoy life”!

Of course, this was when I’d first joined WW and the weight was falling off …

In actuality, I was hiding the goodies not from others (which might make sense to someone concerned about her weight), but rather, from myself.

It’s hard to explain, but there was some sick sense of security in having the chocolate or whatever it was … yet I didn’t want to allow myself full access to it. (Likewise with chewing-and-spitting; wanting the taste but not “going all the way”).

And since I rarely drove in DC, keeping it in my car meant it wasn’t completely accessible; I’d have to go outside deliberately for whatever it was I’d bought, or go out of my way to get to it — versus having it in my cabinet or fridge.

Ironically, I never binged on the treats I kept in my trunk. I’d take, say, a mini York or two, max, a day. But even then I knew, better in the car than in my apartment. I think in a way, I taught myself/convinced myself that these foods were naughty, long before the disordered habits began — or perhaps, in retrospect, this was the beginning of my weird, often-tortured relationship with food?

Logical Nun would say, “OK, Melissa, you had to lock this stuff up … so then why did you buy the stuff in the first place?”

Unfortunately, I can’t really answer that. I think maybe it was the allure of having something so “rebellious” at arm’s length. I never did drugs or drank heavily, and I was never promiscious … so food was my “vice.”

(Back then I’d have been a marketer’s dream, falling into the seductive hands of Mars and their new ridiculous candy bars called Fling which caters to a woman’s desire for something illicit like chocolate, meant to be indulged in, in private … gag me. Mama V rants about Fling this week Take a look at the links, you won’t be disappointed!)

Eventually, it got to the point where it wasn’t just about candy. I had to hide trigger cereals in my trunk like cinnamon Puffins (CRACK) and Kashi and even peanut butter because when I’d wake and eat, those were the foods I’d gravitate towards. (And these are foods you can’t really easily eat in your car!)

In the worst stages of my chew-and-spit episodes, I’d buy/stock-pile chocolate bars for the sole purpose of chewing them and spitting them out. How sick is that?!

I realize, rationally, how ridiculous, how insane it is. But in the moment, it doesn’t always feel so irrational to do it. Sometimes it honestly feels good. It’s, like Dr. G. says, a coping mechanism to which I’ve taken.

And I wonder if the emotional attachment is not so much worse than being 8 and hoarding my candy …

I still stock-pile some things (even if it’s not with the intent to chew-and-spit) and I still struggle with keeping a jar of gourmet peanut butter (such as my fave — delicious PB Loco) in the house without 1) over-indulging in it or 2) chewing-and-spitting it.

I keep trying, and I keep making more progress. It’s just a very expensive habit to “keep trying” with … so I often go a few weeks before another attempt.

My husband doesn’t love chocolate like I do, so I’m not depriving him if I choose not to bring something in the house but rather keep it at work or in my car. He doesn’t eat peanut butter at all (a surprise since he LOVES nuts, just not the nut butters!!), and Cornflakes are his cereal of choice, not Kashi. And so those three items (which had been triggers for me) have made their way back into our home over time … as I’ve been able to have them around.

The decadent dark chocolate Fannie May truffles my husband gave me for Valentine’s Day (in rasp., mint, choc., and strawberry — my faves!) — I’ve been savoring two a day and treating them kindly, with love — as they were given to me kindly and with love.

Today, if you look in my desk drawer at my office, I have packets upon packets of instant oatmeal and Barney Butter (almond butter) single-serves. And my trunk and glove box are are empty; I have been trying to really be conscious about not eating in the car.

But oh wait .. I just remembered about that bag of white chocolate-raspberry Hershey Kiss Hugs in the glove box … til last night, I’d been savoring one or two kisses a day.

Well, I take it back … for the most part, I’ve gotten better about hoarding and chewing-and-spitting. Last night was just another pebble in the road.

How about you? Is there anything that you find yourself stashing away? At home, work, etc.? Why do you do it?

13 thoughts on “Candy Hoarder/Sweet Tooth Fiend

  1. Splenda. I’ve had some serious addicitons to artificial sweeteners. I’m way recovered as far as stowing, but the crave is there, and the worry sometimes that I won’t have a packet when I really want one.

  2. I have the exact same memories growing up–always picking at my siblings candy before my own. Even now, I find myself rummaging through my roommates food–because they buy things that I don’t. I fear buying them because I’m supposed to be the health conscious roommate and feel like I would be judged if any of them saw me eating any of those “naughty” foods. I thought that maybe if I did buy some of it then I would slowly desensitize myself to it–but that only backfired and led me to eat far too much of the cherry licorice I brought home last week. It’s a conflict I need to work on.

  3. Ah, I am not too into the artificial sweeteners (save for Diet Coke) but I can see how Splenda could become addictive.

    Krystyna, that’s the kicker — even “healthy” people enjoy foods that aren’t always the epitome of healthfulness. It’s so hard to accept though! I see what you mean, and have been trying systemized desensitization on my own with PB, etc. Sometimes it works … 🙂

  4. I FREAK out if I don’t have a drink (usually water, but in the morning it’s Diet Coke or Unsweetened Tea) within arm’s reach. 🙂 I have such an oral fixation, it’s not even funny! I chew 2-3 packs a gum a day, and I literally always have a bottle of water with me. My family jokes because I’m always leaving one at their house. I think it’s partially because I’m afraid that, if I don’t have a drink nearby, I’ll turn to mindless snacking instead.

    Back when I was binging/purging, I most definitely stock piled food (usually candy). I don’t now, I guess mostly because I’m afraid I’ll fall back into that pattern again.

  5. OMG I totally have an oral fixation and in h.s. my cheerleading coach commented on it!! I’ve been steering clear of gum, but now I have water at my desk all the time .. sometimes Diet Coke (though less so). Like you, it keeps me from mindlessly noshing!

  6. I also chew 2-3 packs of gum like Holly! I tried hiding it but I just crave it way too much so I let myself go with that one. I have to make my roommate hide her cereal because I go nuts with it! I also have to keep my Z-Bars in a really high cabinet instead of my bedroom!

  7. I definitely hit chocolate from myself. I’ll put it in the far cabinet that I don’t really use, and then stumble on it a couple of days later. In the interim, I do literally forget they’re there.

  8. That’s awesome that you forget, Rachel. At my worst of the midnight eating (it’s been weeks now since I’ve done it) I could hide something while awake and hide it GOOD but still find it. I think because in my heart, I knew I was doing something unnecessary and hurtful to myself; it’s just food.

  9. Snack foods, sweets, etc… I can’t have it in the house. My diet sodas? In the trunk. Chocolate? If it’s hot, I don’t by it. If it’s cold, it stays in the trunk. This is how I am with so many things.

  10. I have my wife hides peanut for me. I sometimes by things like the 2 piont snack packs and hide them from myself so they don’t end up being a trigger food but more of just a snack

  11. Wow – i didn’t think other people actually hid food from themselves in their trunks!! this has been my dirty little secret for years. I keep mostly cereal and granola bars back there – i just can’t have them in the house or i’ll stress binge on them – but they are foods i still want in my diet. Thanks for making me feel like less of a freak:)

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