Food is a weapon. It is a commodity which is readily utilised in the further pursuit of manipulation. Food provides a means of asserting my dominance over you. Food enables me to exert control. Food allows me to underline your inferiority. There are several ways to do this.
Most people are conscious about their weight. The overweight know they ought to lose some weight and will not like the fact of their eating habits being scrutinised. Comments about how much this person is eating, made repeatedly soon start to hit home. They may not do anything about their weight, which, in all likelihood is not that bad, but they may have a few folds about the tummy or the archetypal paranoia about the size of their bottom. The comments turn into denying them their favourite food, forbidding a particular take-away and vetoing dining out at certain restaurants. The beauty of doing this is that I am of course doing it for your own good. See how good I am? I care about your health so I am going to tell you what you can and cannot eat. I am going to stipulate when you eat. Of course I will find you breaking these rules because you lack the willpower and when I do I will chastise you all the more. I will tell you how much you have let me down despite my best efforts. I will tell others that I have been trying to help you but you just will not listen. This proves a very good precursor to establishing that you have the type of pig-headed attitude which means that you do not listen. It may well be true, albeit exaggerated, when it comes to my lectures about healthy eating and it does not take me long before I have extended that to other things which you purportedly do not listen to me about. I will turn your occasional over-eating into not only a stick with which to beat you about your dietary habits but I will use it in order to create an image of you with other people which I can then exploit.
Another way is for me to be territorial about food. I have instigated this technique on a number of occasions. I have my loaf of bread. Nobody else is to touch it. It is hardly something for a special occasion is it? A loaf of bread? It is not as if I have bought some cakes for some anniversary or a party which should not be eaten beforehand is it? The mundane nature of the foodstuff however works in my favour. If you take a slice and believe me I have a memory for how much of the loaf is left, how much of my bottle of soda is left, how many sweets are left in the packet. I know and even if I did not I would make it up in order to provide me with the means of attacking you. I will make it abundantly clear that the relevant item is mine and not be touched. When I decide I need to use it as a weapon I will point out that you have taken it. You will fall right into my trap and will say something along the lines of: –
“No I didn’t eat any of it, what are you talking about?”
(So you are calling me a liar then are you?)
“Calm down it is only a bit of bread.”
(Oh I am over-reacting am I? Excuse me for pointing out you are at fault.)
“It’s no big deal.”
(You are calling something important to me, trivial. Well, if that is what you think you must not think I am very important either must you?)
“It’s okay, I will get you some more.”
(That is not the point. You have failed to heed my boundaries. You have failed to heed my instructions. You clearly think little of me.)
“What are you like, getting upset over a few sweets?”
(Don’t make this about my reaction. You are at fault here)
All classic ways of manipulating you including some standard projection. This will provide us with a Launchpad to commence a tirade, demand you do something to make it right, provide us with the basis to complain about you to other people and shout at you. We have righteous indignation at your behaviour and food is the source of this.
Another method is to keep food under lock and key and treat you like a child with regard to the issue of food. This is usually utilised best when dealing with somebody who has suffered a sustained period of devaluation already. Their ability to think straight, to stand up for themselves and to challenge will have been considerably eroded already. This ultra-control will manifest as counting out the number of cornflakes we are going to let you eat as you sit silently at the breakfast bar. It is slicing your portion of meat down to a tiny square as you watch us decide what you should be eating. We will only fill your glass halfway with what you are drinking. We will allocate a set amount of crisps (chips) for you to eat and if we find you transgressing these allocations we will come down on your hard and reduce future allocations. Food is locked away and is essentially rationed out to you. This works best with someone who has a real issue with food and is often something that works very effectively with BPD individuals as they tend to have “food issues”. Exerting such a high level of control enables us to provoke a reaction at first so that we gather fuel. It then enables us to test the limits of your obedience so we can ascertain what other machinations can be deployed against you.
We weaponise food. It becomes our resource, our means of controlling you. We use it to berate you, calling you weight-related names when we know you are carrying a little weight or you are sensitive about your appearance. We will remark how you need to cut down on what you are eating because your thighs have expanded, we will make tutting noises when we see you tucking into something tasty but naughty in order to increase your feeling of guilt and to provoke a reaction. We will your food. We will accuse you of taking our food. We will use the issue of meals as a way to get to you. We will cook a huge meal and insist you eat everything on your plate and if you do not we will regard it as a criticism of our cooking skills in order to provoke an argument and a reaction from you. It is just another commodity which when in our hands we will find a way of making it work for us in terms of exploiting you. Should you ever admit to us, and you usually do, that you have concerns about what you eat, how you look, what you weigh, that you have intolerance or allergies we will seize on this in order to use it to our advantage. Now, what’s for dinner?