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, (I cringe typing 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, 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?

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8 thoughts on “Shrouding: Disordered or Not?

  1. I’ve never even thought of destroying food…and this will NOT be a planted seed! I do love food, I almost always clean my plate/bowl (because I dish it!)

    Ugh I can’t stand Jillian Michaels. Her advice is idiotic. It simply replaces a negative behavior with another. Like you said, destroying doesn’t empower the person, but feeds more disorder or compulsion and cultivates self destruction and anger. She is so ridiculous I can’t even stand it. So I’m going to stop now!

    Great post Lissa!

  2. I definitely used to do this and I had to do it quickly before I changed my mind. Once I took the rest of a batch of brownies, went on my balcony and threw it against the cement wall across the parking lot from my house. I felt really good that it was out of my house and destroyed. I’ve definitely been known to put something in the garbage and destroy it with something gross like pickle juice. Otherwise I might take it back out if I didn’t think it had touched anything. That was in my bingeing days and I haven’t done that in a long time now but you never know when a behaviour might show it’s face. For me if that behaviour showed up again, I’d know there was a problem. In order for me to stop bingeing though I really had to make peace with my body and food. It is not the enemy.

  3. Gosh, I have mixed emotions about this. Remember the episode of Sex in the City when Miranda eats cake (?) out of the trash? Yeah…I will admit sometimes I have to throw things out and then I put cleaner on them so I won’t do that! Typing it out makes me realize how messed up that is. I just WISH I were at the point where I could really make cookies and keep the batch around for a week or so, eating one or two at a time. But I’m just not there yet.

    I think practice definitely makes perfect, so I’m working on having those things in my house and being *okay* with it. When I have kids, do I want them to see me throwing away sweets or worse – putting cleaner on them in the trash? Definitely not….so I’m working on developing a more healthy relationship in the mean time. Baby steps!

  4. On the rare occasion I do eat out I do shroud my plate with my napkin when I’m done. I started doing that when I was active in WW 9 years ago and the habit has stuck. But I have no probalems doing it as I know portions at most restaurants are just too big anyway. I’ve never just destroyed my food though as I grew up in a house that while we would serve our own plates for dinner, you ate everything you put on your plate. We did not waste any food and if something was about to go bad, it would get fed to either or dog or the pigs we raised. So I still have a hard time ever throwing away any food and I can’t imagine just destroying it. Just yesterday I realized I had some spinach that was starting to go bad that I threw in the front yard for the bunnies and squirrels to eat so while i did throw it away I was ok with it knowing something else would still eat it.

  5. Really the only time I do this is at work when it’s “treat day”. I’ll take a muffin to my desk but only really like the top, but if the bottom is there I’ll keep eating it. So…I’ll cut the top off, throw the bottom in my garbage and pour some water on top. ‘Cuz nobody is going to want the bottom of a muffin if I leave it in the kitchen, but I don’t want to eat that much muffin either. I know it’s a little strange, but I feel much better about doing that than eating the whole thing compulsively.

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