Food hoarding shares many similarities with other sorts of compulsive hoarding and so the way it is treated is likewise similar. Along with getting appropriate assistance, special care needs to be taken to address the person’s relationship with food. Since food hoarding carries with it the high possibility of dangerously rotten foods being consumed, it is important that the person suffering with this illness becomes able to identify inedible food stuffs.
Here are some other tips to help along the road to recovery:
Recognizing there is a problem
One cannot just throw away expired or clearly rotten food and organize the kitchen of a food hoarder expecting the issue to be solved. The problem will just recur over a period of time. It’s important that the person hoarding food realizes there is a problem and wants to change. Until this happens, any other method is futile.
Once this occurs it is important to be patient and respectful as the person comes to terms with the seriousness of the situation. Do not focus on clearing the food out, but listen and encourage the hoarder to get professional help. If you are family, or close friend, you can express this as something you are facing together.
Getting help for food hoarding
There is a lot more information about hoarding than there used to be and a lot more professionals who specialize in this illness. There are many care providers such as psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and even organizers who have the experience and tools to deal with the underlying issues surrounding the food hoarding behavior.
Come up with an organization plan
It is helpful to come up with a system of how food will be handled from this point onward. Lists and a straight-forward system gives the person a sense of control and hope that things can be different. Structure also has a way of disseminating a peaceful atmosphere instead of chaos.
This plan should be catered to the individual, and the other people involved in this process will help to guide what works best.
A few ideas are:
– keeping an inventory of foods in different locations in the kitchen
– planning meals ahead of time so grocery shopping are limited to the ingredients needed
– avoid purchasing extra items because they are on sale or are a better value for purchase in bulk
– setting a weekly time to check the state of fresh ingredients and expiration dates
– have an occasional challenge to use up all food items before shopping again
Letting go of the waste
When first clearing up foods, it is important that the person hoarding is able to understand why the food cannot be kept. A sense of shame will most likely be present, so it is important to impart encouragement and a lack of judgment during the process.
After the clean out, a disposal plan is an important part of the organization process going forward. Just as a time will be set to check expiration dates and the quality of fresh food, it is important to add an additional step, throwing out old items.
Give away what isn’t being used
If there are food stuffs that have not gone bad, but also will not be used in a reasonable time, a plan can be put in place to give the food away. The hoarder can be made to see this as a positive step because there will be no waste, and it’s a chance to help someone else in need.
A lot of the time something that helps us through hard times is knowing we are not alone. Support groups are a great way to connect with others who are going through similar struggles. Whether scheduled meetings, or an online Facebook group, camaraderie is a big help in achieving goals and overcoming difficulties. Using the professional support system in the food hoarder’s life is a great way to find out about available groups.
With time, patience, and perseverance, it is possible to stop food hoarding. As with any recovery, there are often pitfalls and setbacks, but these do not have to be reasons to quit. It is important as someone dealing with this illness, or as a loved-one, to persist through such obstacles. A new way of doing things is a day-by-day process. As long as the sun rises, it’s another chance to try again!
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