Concerned about my diet, not sure if ADHD is causing the problem or something else

I’ll try and make this as short and sweet as possible lol. My diet is horrendous, and I know why, but I can’t figure out solutions to these issues and I don’t know where to turn for help. I’ve come here because I literally can’t think of anyone else to talk to about this.

I can’t:

  • spend long in the kitchen because I hate my housemates and don’t want to run into them,
  • plan meals and buy ingredients for them in advance,
  • buy fresh ingredients without using them on the same day because I never use them any other day unless someone prompts me, and they end up going bad,
  • use many pots and pans because I don’t have any good ones, just the ones my landlord provided for everyone and most of them are really rusty.

Here are some reasons I can’t do those things:

  • I absolutely hate running into people in the kitchen unexpectedly (I’ve been told I might have autism).
  • I want to live alone but I can’t afford it, I don’t earn enough for my own place. I won’t for many years - I’m a part-time student and won’t graduate for 2 years.
  • I tried living with friends, but it didn’t make these issues any better at all. You’d think it would, but it genuinely doesn’t, trust me. In fact, it’s worse because people who used to be friends become so fed up of me that they dislike me from living with me.
  • I could move into a houseshare where the housemates are nicer, but people move in and out of these places so fast that if I move every time I have a housemate I don’t like, I’d be moving several times a year.
  • I have what seem like OCD traits - I hate it when people move things in the kitchen, I hate it when anything is dirty and I don’t know what the dirt is etc. Anyone I’ve ever lived with doesn’t wash dishes to my standard so I have to wash them again before using them. This includes cutlery and pots/pans.
  • Anywhere I live, my housemates end up moving things from my shelf in the fridge, shoving their own stuff on my shelf, etc. When they do that it literally makes me want to burn the house down. It makes me never want to open the fridge. I can go weeks without opening the fridge once.
  • I hate onions, including chives and spring/green onions. I also hate courgette and mushroom. Now, that leaves a VERY limited option of ready meals-for-one.
  • I was in a 6 year relationship which broke up last May. My eating wasn’t such an issue during the relationship because my other half cooked for me. Before I met him, I was a recovering anorexic. So basically I’ve never eaten well unless someone else has cooked for me.
  • I hate washing up. That part is a mixture of the ADHD dopamine/motivation problem, and the fear of having to talk to housemates.
  • Whenever people suggest batch-cooking meals in advance and freezing them, I laugh in their face. I hate the texture of defrosted vegetables, plus there’s not a chance in hell I’m going to spend hours in the kitchen where my housemates could come in, and THEN even if I manage that, there’s no WAY I’m going to remember to defrost things or that there’s even anything in the freezer! Not to mention it’s a struggle to motivate myself to spend ANY time in the kitchen, let alone enough time to cook several meals. If I could do that, I’d do it every night.

So what how do I survive? Well, after work every day, I go to the store and buy something reduced price that I either don’t have to cook or can be cooked in the microwave. If I’m feeling brave, I’ll get a ready-meal that requires the oven. At least I don’t have to be in the kitchen for longer than 5 mins at a time then. To be honest, because I end up reading every label to see if it has onions in, I end up spending at least 30 anxious minutes in the store. If it’s something I don’t need to cook, it’s usually an assortment of ready-prepared fruit, maybe some vegetables, falafel, salad, sandwiches, desserts, whatever’s at the store. If there’s nothing there or I can’t go to the shop, I either eat out or get a takeaway.

Nobody in my life knows how bad it is. I’ve tried keeping a food diary to show someone how bad my diet is, but I never complete food diaries because of a mixture of ADHD/poor memory and the shame I feel when I actually write down what I eat.

But even if I did complete a food diary, who do I take it to? Who deals with this? I’ve had therapists and life coaches try to help me, but there’s only so much they can do. I asked my GP to refer me to the eating disorder clinic but they never did. I also queried a dietitian but they won’t do that. I haven’t chased either of these things because I’m not sure they’ll help. I wondered if it was worth seeking an autism assessment, so I could maybe have a diagnosis to point to as a reason for the issues and access help through that. I even considered applying for PIP for help.

I’m just really stuck and it’s really getting me down. The way I’m eating isn’t healthy, it isn’t financially viable, and it’s just not what I want. I want to cook, I want to plan and prepare meals, I want to do things like adults are supposed to. I walked home from the shop today with my bag of tonight’s dinner and I nearly cried from the stress of how much mental effort it takes every night just to eat SOMETHING that I don’t even want to eat.

I guess I’m asking if anyone knows what I should do? I’m so lost.

Maybe if you can get help from your social services? It’s the only thing I can think of now, because that is what I have! I don’t have it as severe as you have, but I feel like a person that helps you out as I have might be able to do those things you need most help with?
Right now I have had almost 3 months with help from the social services when it comes to planning my meals. It is very personal on what level a housing assistant (as I think they are called, I don’t live in an english speaking country!) helps you with. For example, they asked me if I needed them to accompany me to buy groceries, but I told them I can do that on my own, which I can. Instead they help me once a week by coming over, helping me look at what groceries I have, what food I can make with what I have and also making a plan for what needs to be bought for the coming days (they help me find recipes I like, write down what I don’t have in my kitchen already that I need to buy etc).

However, I don’t know what to suggest about you not being able to be in the kitchen with others… the only thing popping up is “assisting living” (or is it called “assisted living”? I’m bad with these terms, sorry!). Where you would have someone to help you daily? Keeping a small fridge in your own room where you are now, is that possible? So that you don’t have to share your refridgerated things? And also your own cupboard where you can have your food that doesn’t needs to be refridgerated? It still might not help when you have to prepare the food though; Since you’d probably still need to be in the kitchen for that, but if you could have your own small fridge and cupboard in your room, then at least you would know that only you have access to what is in there? The same with pots and pans, if you buy your own (there are cheap second hand stuff, if you would be okay with that?) and store them in your room?

I hope you can get help with this soon <3

Hi! I don’t have a lot of advice for you, but I can say that I have experienced nearly the exact same thing. When I had roommates I had huge issues being in the kitchen with them. Mostly from the social exhaustion of the day, and not being able to bear questions about what I was eating (even positive ones) or if I wanted to share their food. I feel like this makes me sound terrible, but at the end of a long day I feel like I can’t take one more second judgement even when its with the best intent. Not to mention OCDish queasiness around cleanliness or foods I don’t like being in proximity to my food.

When I finally moved out on my own, it got a bit better, but the convenience of picking up something at the corner store (usually popcorn…) was often more tempting than facing the clean up of a home cooked meal or the stress of endless choices at the grocery store.

It has gotten better. I think one thing I tapped into was more nostalgia feelings about foods I love and my sister moving to the same city and sharing meals from our childhood. Without an emotional connection I find it hard to have an appetite. And being understanding that I probably won’t ever have the most adventurous or perfectly balanced diet. This month I’ve been thinking about meeting up with my friends from Texas soon, as a result I have been eating quesadillas with black beans literally twice a day. It reminds me of our time in college together and since I toast it in the oven on tin foil, the cleanup is practically non-existent.

Short story long… You are not alone! And there is a lot of weird food-shaming masquerading as advice out there. Do your best! Pat yourself on the back for food choices that are even just slightly better than your norm. Also, humans have made it this far without dying out as a species, you’re nutritionally miles ahead of your ancestors just a couple hundred years ago.

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