Fear of Food Touching is Manageable with Compartmentalized Containers

by on August 9, 2012 · 7 comments                       

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Fear-of-Food-Touching is manageable with EasyLunchbox Containers

When I go to a Chinese restaurant, I actually don’t mind if some of my Kung Pao Chicken sauce mixes with my Sizzling Orange Beef sauce, all mushed together with my Shrimp Fried Rice. It’s not that I TRY to mix it all up, because I actually do enjoy separate tastes, but it seems like part of the tradition of eating Chinese food;  everyone orders a dish they like and we all share a little. Even on my plate, the sharing and overlapping is going on. It’s all going to the same place, right? So it’s OK if the combining gets a head start before it hits my mouth.

But what about people who have a fear of food touching? It’s not just that the peas cannot touch the potatoes. It’s that IF they touch, the person literally cannot continue eating in many cases. As a result, eating becomes more of a stress than a joy. The actual name for fear of food touching other food is brumotactillophobia. This food-related phobia is considered by many to be a mild form of obsessive compulsive disorder.

I know that most people are using my EasyLunchbox containers for meal packing for school or work. But if you don’t like your foods to touch, you might want to consider using them as your normal dishware, in or out of your house.

Molly shares her story

“I’m not sure when I became a ‘Picky Eater’ (my mom would probably be able to tell you how I evolved that way), but I can proudly say that I finally came around, and put aside many of my food and texture aversions that affected how I ate until I was well into my mid-20′s.

Molly Laufer as a childThe dinner table stories from my childhood are probably not much different than many of yours or those of your children. I was always skeptical of vegetables. Other than green beans or corn on the cob, if it came from a farm or was grown in the ground, I probably wasn’t going to eat it. My mom cooked homemade meals almost every single night (thanks Mom!) and many of my late afternoons as a toddler were spent in my ‘Play Kitchen’ that sat in the corner of our family’s kitchen. I would ‘cook’ and ‘stir’ and ‘mix’ things in my big plastic ‘Play Kitchen’ but wouldn’t touch most of the things that came out of the ‘Real Kitchen’. I think I must have spent those later afternoons baking imaginary cakes instead :)

My favorite foods as a kid weren’t necessarily unhealthy, I just preferred chicken fingers, rice, tacos, spaghetti, and mashed potatoes. I liked my food arranged on polar opposite sides of my plate, never touching with no sauces mixed together. If ‘muffin tin meals‘ had been around then, I probably would have been the Queen Toddler of Muffin Tins. When it was Fajita Night at home, my mom would pick out the bell peppers and onions that she so lovingly sliced and roasted out of the dish so I only had chicken in my fajitas. Her beef chili is fit for a Chili Cook-Off, but not until she picked the kidney beans out of it for me before I ate it (again, thanks Mom!).

Not much changed for me when I went to college. When most other college students were eating salads from the Dining Hall, I was eating microwavable packets of mac and cheese in my dorm. If I did join my healthy-eating friends at the salad bar, I steered towards the romaine and then drowned it in Caesar or Ranch dressing. I eventually started to come around, not because I had in interest in health, but because my roommate at the time was a phenomenal cook. We lived in a little apartment with a full kitchen and she taught me to make homemade meatballs, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, pot roast, and squash gratin casserole. While I still picked the carrots out of her pot roast, I at least started coming around to the idea of eating ‘real foods’ and not food from packets mixed with hot water like I had for most of my college years.

Beware the Brunch

College was also where I met my now-husband and we would have Sunday brunch with his family every weekend, since they lived nearby. His family is Israeli and, unfortunately for me, Israeli brunch also consisted of an array of foods that I normally would never have gone near: cottage cheese, fresh chopped Israeli salad, smoked salmon, olives and pickles. I watched my then-boyfriend spread a thick layer of olive cream cheese and cottage cheese on a bagel and top it with avocado, Israeli salad and a cheese that I did not recognize. I was horrified at the amount of flavor and texture combinations he was creating and eating. I think I ate a bagel with plain cream cheese that first brunch; I remember going home and going out to eat another full breakfast because I barely touched anything at that meal.

A few years later as we planned our wedding, my family joked that this would be the most inexpensive and easy wedding cater order ever: we’d feast on a buffet of mashed potatoes, chicken fingers, and stovetop mac and cheese. When we picked out the dishes for our wedding registry, my mom asked, ‘Do you think you can get Kate Spade china in a 3-section dinner plate?’  For the record- we did end up serving pecan crusted chicken, mashed potatoes, and fresh french green beans at the wedding: a small nod to my favorite childhood foods. We never did find the 3-section china dinner plates ;)

Picky eater all grown up

Fast forward a few years and my outlook on the foods that I eat and make has completely changed. I’m still picky about certain foods and textures (I can’t handle cottage cheese, refried beans, avocados, or mushrooms) but I know how delicious and nutritious vegetables are, and I enjoy picking out my favorites at the local Farmers’ Market each week. I’ve learned that I don’t have to like every vegetable, I just have to eat the ones that I do like. I pack my lunch at least 4 days of the week to make sure that I’m eating healthy and balanced meals even during a busy work week.

Packed lunches for work in EasyLunchboxes

But some things never change and I still don’t like my foods to touch, which is why EasyLunchboxes are the perfect containers for me to fill my cooler bag with healthy foods. I usually make a large grain salad every Sunday that makes enough for four lunches. (My favorite? An Israeli salad-inspired Tabouleh Quinoa Salad, which you can find on the NatureBox blog). I top it with chicken or chickpeas that I prepare on Sundays as well. I’ve swapped chips or crackers for snap peas to get in an extra veggie serving at lunch, and I don’t mind eating the same thing for lunch almost every single day. Fridays are a ‘Grab Bag’ day where I fill my EasyLunchbox with random finds from the fridge- leftover dinners or salads from the week, which is perfect for making sure those different dishes NEVER touch.

I took many life lessons away from the hours I spent in the ‘Play Kitchen’ with my mom when I was a toddler even if diverse eating habits weren’t one of them. And given the option, I still prefer to make a cake in my own ‘Real Kitchen’” :)

Molly at work at Nature BoxMolly Laufer is the Social Media and Community Manager for NatureBox. She loves healthy snacking even more than she loves cake and she has a passion for helping other people open up to new foods and tastes they haven’t tried yet. A former Navy officer, Molly frequently went weeks without fresh vegetables during her deployments, and survived mainly off of the oatmeal and dried fruits and nuts that her family would send in care packages. Getting to share healthy snacking ideas to help people make better choices is “a dream come true” but her mom still has trouble believing that she’s now a champion for healthy eating.

 

top photo credit: JustCallMe_♥Bethy♥_ via photo pin cc

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{ 6 comments }

1 Molly @ NatureBox August 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Thanks for sharing my story, Kelly! I just realized that the pic of all my lunches shows a salad in which a bunch of different foods touching- haha! But notice that the hummus MUST still be on the side and snap peas CANNOT touch the hummus UNTIL I’m ready to dunk them in— I do not know why that is! I’m ok with fresh vegetables and grains mixing in a salad (provided that I make it myself) but the thought of hummus or dressing ON the salad? Blech :)

This just goes to show what a LONG way I’ve come over the years!

2 Kelly Lester @ EasyLunchboxes August 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm

It’s good to know though Mooly, that some of these food issues can be outgrown or overcome :) Like your mom, I too find it amazing and wonderful that you are now delighted to be working with a company that promotes getting healthy via natural and nutritious food choices! I’m really happy to share your story here, and in doing a little research it was interesting to find that more people than you’d think have varying degrees of food aversions and phobias. Like you eat the same lunch every day for work? I eat the same breakfast. Every. Day :)

3 Maria August 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm

“I’ve learned that I don’t have to like every vegetable, I just have to eat the ones that I do like.” So true! Wouldn’t we all love to be the person who proclaims that vegetables are the best things ever? But that’s kind of unrealistic…

I love your story, Molly and can we all agree that you need to start a blog? :)

4 Kelly Lester @ EasyLunchboxes August 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Agreed Maria!!! Molly had mentioned her aversion to food touching to me and when I asked her to write me a little something about it, I had no idea what a fabulous tale she’d tell for all of us! She is indeed, a terrific writer!

5 Rachel Hiner February 26, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Hi Molly, Love your story! Mine is almost exactly the same. I was the pickiest eater growing up I only ate processed junk food – one day I realized I was living with the decisions of my 5 year old self and decided to try one new food every day – after a couple weeks I was the farthest thing from a picky eater. The funniest thing now is the only food I am picky about is junk food! Wonder where this comes from – do you think it could be advertising :)
Rachel Hiner is the cool author of..Trail Running in San DiegoMy Profile

6 Kelly Lester February 27, 2014 at 9:29 pm

What an inspiration you are Rachel! I love “…I was living with the decisions of my 5 year old self…”. It’s so interesting how we can get stuck in old habits that don’t really suit us. So great that you consciously chose to break out of that one. And I think it’s smart to be picky about junk food. I mean, if you’re going to indulge, why not make sure it’s the “best junk”, right?

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