Hoarding of food is a common type of hoarding disorder. As with other types of hoarding, food hoarding usually begins as a result of anxiety. Quite often hoarders collect items because they are afraid that if they discard them, something of significance will be lost. Some hoarders experience a extreme sense of grief when they try to give away any of their possessions. These fears of loss seem to stem from an exaggerated responsibility of being prepared for any possible situation and of not wanting to waste things.
Compulsive hoarders also have trouble making even small decisions, such as what to wear or what to eat. Since hoarding does tend to run in families, it could be influenced by modeling behavior or transmitted genetically. Some researchers believe that the reason why individuals hoard food is because they may have experienced some sort of deprivation earlier in their lifetime.
Obsessive food hoarding presents a multitude of concerns. Rotten food or contaminated food containers can become a health hazard that can cause illness and attract pests like flies, roaches, mice or even rats. Most hoarders do not even acknowledge that their excessive accumulation of clutter is a problem. They may think that their behavior is sensible and that saving things is beneficial. They also become oblivious to the odor of rancid food or the harmful health risks associated with it.
Each case of hoarding is unique. However, while everyone is different and people hoard for different reasons, it is believed that those who hoard food do it as a result of past experiences. Sometimes, it is due to the fact that the individual was neglected when they were younger. Their basic needs for life-sustaining food may have been denied or inadequately met. Food hoarders will rationalize keeping a particular food item even if it is expired. They are often in denial about the harm they are doing to their own bodies from eating expired foods.
Those individuals who hoard food also have a tendency to buy large quantities of food items that are on sale and are unable to curb their perpetual need to purchase items. They generally think they are conserving, but ironically compulsive food hoarders often waste more food than the average individual because they often let uneaten food to become moldy and expired or lost in the clutter.