Or Just Eat Quiche

fried perch

fried perch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have trouble eating. In front of people. I had TMJ years ago, and though I no longer suffer from the annoying clicking, jaw ache, or barely being able to open my mouth (for a while I was eating through a straw, which cannot really be called eating)—I still cannot open my mouth very wide.

Restaurant food is not made for someone who cannot relish their food with big bites. Salads are not cut in bite-size pieces, so I have to take a knife and fork to any salad I order, and I still tend to not be able to get it in my mouth without it: 1. Falling back on my plate;  2. Leaving a smear of dressing on my face; and/or 3. Being stuck with it half in and half out of my mouth, and having to stuff it in with my fingers. None of these would be easy to watch if you are eating with me. And I tell you, it is no fun being a messy eater.

People are kind. They ignore my difficulties and just continue conversing with me even though it is apparent that I cannot seem to feed myself with the proper etiquette.  I really do try to cut things into small pieces, but sometimes I misjudge, and do not realize it until it is too late.

English: Homemade cheeseburger with french fries.

Burger with french fries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever tried eating a hamburger if you cannot open your mouth very wide? Close to impossible, as they make hamburgers super thick then pile everything but the kitchen sink on it. I usually sort of nibble away at it—but it is frustrating, and darn it, sometimes I am hungry, and want a mouthful. That is when I get into trouble.

I was out for dinner the other night and ordered perch and coleslaw and French fries. A meal made in heaven for someone with my problem. The perch could be cut into my mouth-size pieces, the French fries successfully dunked in ketchup and easily devoured, and the coleslaw was chopped small enough that I did not have trouble eating it. A blissful meal indeed. (See how I worked bliss into this? Clever, eh?)

I guess I should just explain to anyone I lunch or dine with that I have a problem opening my mouth very wide so they will not think that I am a bit of a pig. I think though I should just acclimate myself to the situation, be careful about what I order, and cut my meal into smaller pieces. Or just eat Quiche. (This can get a little old.)

Do you have to make any adjustments to your eating habits so you will not appear to be a messy eater?


Published in: on January 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm  Comments (54)  
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  1. Aw, hon, that looks like it could be pretty painful too. Still … at least you can drink 🙂

    • it was painful — that is true–drinking some things through a straw is bliss!

  2. I know you had difficulty Lou, and tmj is very painful, but your description of managing your food is soooo funny. I make food faux pas all the time and I do not have TMJ….what’s my excuse?

  3. I have had temporary TMJ twice so I know exactly what you are talking about. To compensate, now I eat too fast. It’s almost as embarrassing to be ready for dessert before my dinner companions are not through the entree..

    • wish I could eat faster–I am notorious for being the last one finished
      do you have any residual effects from the TMJ?

  4. Just remember if you are eating with people, they are probably your friends, and therefore they understand completely and only want the best for you. Take your small bites, relax, enjoy and don’t hurt! 🙂

  5. Ugh tmj is awful my friend, I understand it!
    I’m also in agreement with you when it comes to the messiness of burgers, usually I eat like a mouse 😛

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. I lived with a dislocated jaw for years after dental work as a child and I’ve always found it difficult to eat. I’m known to my friends as the slowest eater they’ve ever known and I need to cut my food into very small pieces. I find it difficult to eat steak because chewing too much gives me a headache. I just have a napkin available at all times and dab my mouth after each bite – that tends to make things easier for me.

    • I too am a slow eater, I will keep the napkin at hand–it is unhandy though isn’t it–thanks for sharing–now I feel more normal

  7. I can so relate, while I can open my mouth, I can’t swallow properly. I have no reflux and don’t have the muscle tone to swallow certain foods. I have to take small bites and make sure I have chewed properly then try to get it to go down. I’m always the slowest eater and then there are the times things get stuck, I start gagging trying to get it either up or down and praying I don’t close off my breathing in the process. This makes eating out a very uncomfortable prospect. I have to go over the menu trying to find foods I know won’t give me a problem. Hence, I’d rather eat at home, or at friend’s home who understands my problem and knows what’s happening when I make a mad rush for the bathroom or another room close by rather than do this at the table.

    • I so understand–we just have to be vigilant about what we order–so sorry you have this problem–I am a very slow eater too

      • It’s all I know, so I don’t let it bother me too much especially at home where I can control things easier.

      • at home you probably don’t notice it at all – I don’t notice my problem much except when I am out

  8. That must be frustrating, LouAnn. Mr. Weebles had similar difficulties for a while after he had surgery on his jaw last year. He couldn’t open his mouth very wide either and so he had to choose wisely from restaurant menus so that he didn’t have to worry about slobbering all over everything. I know hamburgers and other sandwiches are a special challenge. I don’t have any particular eating problems that need adjusting, but I’m usually a slob when it comes to pasta. No matter how neatly I try to twirl my spaghetti, I either end up with a giant forkful that’s the size of a baseball, or I get a few straggling strands that I have to slurp up awkwardly. And then invariably I spray pasta sauce all over the place. It’s really sexy.

    • ha ha – you make me feel better–I secretly cut my spaghetti when no one is looking

      • It’s embarrassing because I’m half Italian. My relatives would disown me if they saw how I tackle a plate of linguini.

      • had I known that I would not have told you my secret-ha ha

  9. I just hate to eat in front of people cos I can’t really enjoy it if I’m continually interrupted with stupid conversation. And I hate to chew my food cos i think it’s gross when it’s mushy so I’m always choking on big bites that get stuck (true) I love soup cos you don’t have to chew it! I just read that and boy do I sound weird. I was gonna erase it, but I thought you should know the real me!!

    • I like the real you — we all have stuff we are uncomfortable with and some of what you describe I suffer from too – I love soup but it takes me days to eat it–then my nose starts to run — it is all very difficult!

  10. Or just eat quiche? Ok!

  11. I have the same problem!! It’s horrible….my jaw popped and felt like it dislocated on one side and now I have to readjust the way I eat everything. Smaller bites aside, it’s still embarrassing to wear half of what you are trying to ingest.

  12. Depending on who I’m with (if it’s a business related meal or non-business) I am mindful on what I order. I choose something light & easy on the stomach. Otherwise – I’ll eat whatever appears on my plate! 😉

    • it all depends doesn’t it — if it is with people I do not know I am very careful about what I order

  13. I seem to just ‘drop’ or ‘slop’ too much…I blame it on the M.S. shaking a bit …but I think I was just born to be sloppy….Diane

  14. You are the second person today to remind me of the jaw surgery I had when I was 18 years old. I had a severe underbite, and they had to take out an inch of bone from each side of my jaw. Then my jaw was wired shut for 8 weeks, and I had to eat everything in liquid form. Do you have any idea what beefaroni in the blender looks like and feels like being sucked through a straw??? LOL!! So, my friend, I can totally understand your eating frustrations. All I can say is the hell with what everyone else thinks – just enjoy your food (especially chocolate) any way you have to, even if it’s messy :).

    • I do most of the time–thanks — glad the surgery is just an unpleasant memory now
      I never have a problem eating chocolate

  15. Same problem here. I used to wear a thingy over my teeth that helped a lot. Then I stopped wearing it years ago and now it does not fit for the mouth changes in contour as we age. I seldom eat in public for I can hear my left jaw clicking. My jaw no longer hurts but it clicks– however other people say they can not hear the noise. Well there is a plus side to that- at least we have food eat.

    • seriously, a clicking jaw is so annoying–and you are right–complaining about eating is probably a selfish thing

  16. That sounds like something really hard to deal with but as someone else said, you’re most likely with friends and family when you eat out so I’m sure they wouldn’t care about how you look when you’re eating.
    Large pieces of lettuce are my nemesis. Restaurant salads tend to have those and I often get overambitious and end up awkwardly trying to stuff the whole thing in my mouth or else spraying dressing everywhere. It’s hard to do it discreetly too because of all the crunching.

  17. Ugh! I feel your pain. I had TMJ when I was younger and had to wear a mouth piece. It clicked and locked all the time. It was awful. Eventually it went away. I don’t actually know why. I still can’t chew gum for any length of time, it starts to feel too taxing, I can feel my jaw start to tense up. Mouth issues are the worst. I’m sorry that you had/have that. I can relate to the anxiety it produces, never knowing when it will strike again. I think anxiety and stress make it so much worse.

    • anxiety and stress make everything worse–and I cannot chew gum for any length of time either–not being able to open your mouth wide makes it very awkward at the dentist–last time I was there they had trouble taking an xray

  18. Oh dear, that sounds akward. Being able to open my mouth wide is something I’ve always just taken for granted, but I can imagine how difficult eating could be if you can’t.

    • I once did too–now I am just a delicate little flower (lol)- and can only eat in tiny bites–it is so annoying when you want to take a chunk out of a burger and you can’t

  19. I don’t have TMJ but do recall days of trying to eat with braces.. Food stuck in the wires, always having to go brush after eating.. I hated them..Look at the bright side, your delicious burger lasts longer than other peoples because of smaller bites 🙂

    • now there is a good way to look at it – I never wore braces but I can just imagine the challenge of them

  20. I had a right side facial paralysis for a couple of months that made eating slightly embarassing.. it when in neatly, but them dribbled out the side that didn’t move when I wanted it to. I can understand the need to concentrate on what you are doing. In my case the problem was fairly obvious, and I find humour can overcome most anything. The bliss part came into play when I got the other side of my face back. 🙂

    • I will bet that was a trying time–so sorry you went through it–though I agree humour is the best way to deal with it–that is what I attempted here but many took it quite seriously and I am amazed at the number of us who have or had problems eating in public

  21. You can never go wrong with quiche in my book, or an extra napkin if quiche isn’t on the menu. =)

  22. My biggest adjustment when dining out as a family is managing the mess that my daughter makes. Somehow there is always one glass of water, extra fork, plate or condiment that Sophie gets her squirly 2-year old hands on, and then, bam! Instant mess. On me, on her or on the floor. The best was when I reached over to wipe a bunch of ketchup off her hands and ended up knocking over a glass of water in the process. We were a wet, ketchupy mess that day 🙂

    • I can do all that without a two year old (lol)–I do remember those days thought–vividly!

  23. That must be really awkward for you, Lou Ann. My teenage grandson has to wear some sort of mouth apparatus for the next few years to correct his jaw, and he really battles with eating. He isn’t at all embarrassed though, just frustrated that he can’t shovel in more food at a time.

    • I know how he feels–glad he is not embarassed–that is more than half the battle!

  24. Although I often wish that I had something that would impede my ability to eat (how can a person go about contracting TMJ?), it does sound like a nuisance. I find myself regularly explaining a different condition to people–my left eye drops frequently. It doesn’t actually land on the floor or anything. My eyebrow and eyelid sort of fall lower on my face and the eye is much less open than the other one. It’s a mystery. Some think it is a “migraine without pain.” Others say they aren’t sure. Anyway, when it happens, I look a tad bit…um…bizarre and feel the need to explain it to anyone who happens to look my way. Which, by the way, makes me seem like an even bigger freak.

    • us freaks have to stick together — want to go out to lunch?

      • With your mouth and my eye, we’d definitely get some attention. At least we could use the word “eh” freely.

      • and know what it means!

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