Pandemic Triggers Food Hoarding
He doesn’t overeat, but he can’t stop buying more food
While the pandemic has changed many of us in a variety of ways, the experience for this man has triggered food hoarding. He doesn’t overeat, but he can’t stop buying more food. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson says in this edition of “Ask Amy.”
My life is in a good place. My kids are out of the house, and I retired early.
Before COVID-19 hit, I went to Broadway shows and movies, out to eat with friends, and traveled alone.
Obviously, the pandemic threw a wrench into things. I have tried to reframe my life during a time when I’ve been scared to go out, despite being vaxxed and boosted.
Early on during the pandemic, it was hard to get certain foods, but I’ve found that even after things settled down, I was still overstocking.
I have two full fridges, two freezers, and find myself ordering food for various relatives and having it shipped to them.
I don’t have an eating problem, as I don’t over-consume food, but I can’t stop buying it.
I finally canceled my Costco membership and limit my trips to the store, but I still find myself at midnight shopping at online food sources.
I’ve tried everything to stop, and yet I keep buying. Not clothes, not knick-knacks, not home furnishings. Just food.
Events like the Ukraine invasion seem to trigger me buying more food.
I have a freezer with sliced and frozen vegetables, sauces and soups. The other freezer contains nothing but meat. I know this is a control issue, but I can’t shake the fear of running out of food.
Can you help?
Dear Worried: You are describing a hoarding disorder, in this case, food hoarding. This can be brought on by trauma and triggered by stress.
People who have survived extreme food shortages will sometimes emerge from the experience with the impulse toward food hoarding. Your early experiences of the pandemic (experiencing some shortages and fearing that there would be more) has triggered this in you.
Hoarding disorders are linked to anxiety and can be treated with a combination of medication and behavior therapy, which focuses on recognizing the triggers, the feelings, and the behavior you seek to change.
Many people are experiencing mental health challenges as the result of the pandemic, and I give you so much credit for recognizing that your behavior presents an extreme problem for you, and for being brave in your inquiry.
I believe your question will help a lot of people who are also struggling.
I urge you to take the next very brave step to seek professional help.
You can recover from this food hoarding, emerge into the world, and enjoy your experiences and relationships.
There are many ways to find a therapist. I like the database offered by psychologytoday.com. You can search based on location and specialty and read through profiles of therapists.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from food hoarding to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2021 by Amy Dickinson