(This isn’t the usual sort of thing we discuss on Culturcidal, but it’s fun and it may help some people, so why not pop out a little bonus column for everyone?)
It all starts with this absolutely fascinating post that was on Reddit:
I (29F) think my SO (30M) is poisoning me, but I am not sure and I don't know what to do
I am a generally fit, active, and healthy 29F who gets sick only maybe once a year (and lasts at most 2 days before I'm back on my feet). I've been with my SO (30M) for over a year now and we haven't had any major fights at all.
However, starting 5 months ago or so, my SO has been sending me food that either he or his family has prepared, and also various supplements, which I take from time to time. And call me crazy, but I've noticed my health start to decline. I'm less able to work out and I've gotten sick frequently. Note that I've been cooking and eating my own food all this time (I don't eat deliveries or whatnot) and have not fallen sick at all. Also note that he and his fam can cook. This isn't one those amateurish cooking food poisoning kind of thing.
My SO has access to both hospital supplies and agricultural supplies. His fam has versatile professions.
I've taken a stool test one time I got sick but that came back normal, so I thought that I might just be overthinking it. I have absolutely no way of knowing for sure.
Nonetheless, I have gotten sick again, and I ordered some delivery. The next day, I felt much better. However, my SO brought over some more food the next day, which I ate. And, lo and behold, I got a bit sicker the next day!
As for the motive, I do not know at all. I'm not parasitic and shower them with gifts regularly to acknowledge and reciprocate their goodwill. I'm keeping them from finding out my suspicions but yeah.
How should I proceed?
tl;dr I think I'm being poisoned by my SO as I've started feeling progressively sicker ever since he started bringing me food and supplements.
EDIT: No, I do not have food intolerance of food allergies. The food he brings are standard dishes I have eaten from other sources in the past
First of all, there is a possibility that this is a mental health issue that she needs to discuss with a therapist. You have a good relationship with a guy you’ve been with for a year and you suspect he’s trying to poison you? That definitely seems a little paranoid. Also, doesn’t it seem a little strange that she thinks the food may be poisoned but is STILL EATING IT? This could just be someone who has watched one too many true crime shows and has cracked. However, for the purposes of this article, let’s assume that’s not it and continue on.
Occam’s Razor says that whatever health problems she may have probably aren’t as a result of her boyfriend and his family trying to poison her. Granted, anything’s possible, but when you’re trying to think of the cause of a problem, you don’t immediately jump to the most exotic conclusion. One simple question along these lines might be, “Does he ever eat the same food?” If the answer is, “Not with a gun to his head,” poison might make more sense, but if you’re eating the same Chicken Kabobs and he’s not getting sick while you are, you can pretty much definitively rule out poison as a possibility.
That goes double in this case because it doesn’t sound like she is measuring what’s happening in any significant way. In other words, it doesn’t sound like she’s getting sick every time she takes the supplements or food the family sent over. It just sounds like she has started to get sick more often over the last few months and during roughly that same time period, she has started getting more food and supplements from his family. If this were an “every time I eat it, I get sick” kind of thing, I can see pointing the finger at the food, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening. Since it isn’t, she needs to start charting this. She should probably start out by not eating this food anymore, but if she continues, what symptoms is she having? When is she having them? How many days per week? Is it a particular time of day? Is it only after she eats this food? This is very important because human memory is very fallible and to ferret out some kind of unusual health problem, it’s very important to have data.
Let’s say she does that and concludes that yes, she does only get sick if she eats that food.
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Does that mean she’s being poisoned? Well, no. The food may have sat out for too long and it may have spoiled. Maybe they’re just not very sanitary and she’s getting sick from bacteria on an old knife they never wash.
She says she doesn’t have “food intolerance” or “food allergies,” but the reality is that almost everyone has them at least to some degree. I’ve personally taken a food intolerance test and had it tell me certain foods were extremely reactive that, as far as I knew, had no impact on me at all. I can also tell you that different foods have wildly different effects on blood glucose depending on the person. You may eat some pineapple and your body processes it wonderfully, but for another person, it may create a reaction like eating chocolate cake. It could even be the case that since she thinks the food may be poisoned, she could be getting extremely anxious every time she eats it and is creating her own sickness that way.
Does any of this pin it down exactly? No, but whatever the case may be, she can stop eating that food to avoid getting sick and, maybe in the future, if she has a similar problem with some other food, it may give her a clue as to what she’s dealing with.
I have a friend who swells up and sweats when she eats shrimp. Maybe she wondered if something was wrong with the shrimp the first time that happened, but I’m sure the second time it happened under different circumstances, she recognized the problem was how her body reacted to shrimp. If you really want to be extremely serious about this, something like an elimination diet can be good to find out what foods your body handles best.
However, let’s say she does her due diligence, starts charting all of this, and finds that it’s NOT THE FOOD at all.
At that point, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor. Present them with the data and see what they say. If they don’t have answers or insist on just treating the symptoms without addressing the root cause, the next step is a functional medicine doctor to see if they have any suggestions. Some of those doctors are very good and some are just a little “woo-woo,” so it’s good to do your online research before you talk to them.
If you get to that point and you’re still not sure what’s happening, you’re going to need to start doing more testing if you can afford it. Some things that cause weird symptoms can include heavy metal poisoning and toxic mold. Assuming that testing doesn’t point you in the right direction, if you can afford it, it’s a good idea to do some extensive blood testing somewhere like WellnessFX. That testing isn’t going to be a roadmap and it can, particularly if you don’t have any previous testing results, send you down some rabbit holes trying to figure out odd results that have actually always been par for the course for you. However, on the other hand, they may be very instructive. If let’s say, all your liver or thyroid scores are off, well then, that may be a very useful indicator that the problem isn’t your boyfriend’s mom’s lasagna.
All this may sound like a lot of time-consuming work, but that’s pretty much how difficult problems get handled. If you want to do it wrong, come up with a simple answer, don’t consider other possibilities, and ignore the evidence to the contrary. If you want to do it right, you measure, test out different theories, and you come up with data based on conclusions. Whether you’re talking about figuring out why you’re getting sick, the best way to handle COVID or a new government policy, they should all work the same way.
That was interesting! I think her problem is psychosomatic: of or relating to a disorder having physical symptoms but originating from mental or emotional causes. Without more information regarding her relationship with her SO, which she appears to believe is on good terms, it's not easy to know why she would come to the conclusion she is being poisoned. Correlation does not equal causation. Perhaps she has a histrionic personality type. I mean, if I thought my SO was poisoning me, I wouldn't continue to eat food supplied by him, or I'd set up a situation in which he also ate the same food with me. She makes it sound like he's bringing her food frequently. Why? Once in awhile, like a time or two a month, might be reasonable but more than that strikes me as excessive.
It's possible she has some history of being gaslighted or betrayed in a significantly sneaky manner, and this may make her sensitive to drawing this kind of conclusion.
Yes. I'd say first step: Try not eating his family's food for a while and see if the problem goes away. If it does, then it may be the food. If it doesn't, then it's not the food and the timing of the food was just a coincidence. As the author says, even if it is the food, it's not necessarily deliberate poisoning. Maybe there's a spice they like and include in almost everything that you're allergic to. Etc.
With no apparent motive, deliberate poisoning seems pretty unlikely. It could be the timing is complete coincidence. (Did her health decline start EXACTLY the same time she started eating this food? Or just sort of kind of around the same time?) It could be something in the food that is not deliberate. It could be psychological, like the relationship seems so good there just MUST be something wrong. Etc.