Hoarding of food is a common type of obsessive-compulsive behavior. As with other obsessive-compulsive disorders, food hoarding can begin as a consequence of anxiety. Quite often hoarders accumulate items because they are afraid that if they discard them, something of significance will be lost. Some hoarders feel a sense of grief when they try to give away any of their possessions. Such worries start to appear due to an overpowering feeling that the hoarder has to be ready for any circumstance and also to avoid wasting anything.

Even minor decisions, such as what to wear or what to eat, cause anxiety for a hoarder. Hoarding behavior also tends to run in the family, influencing the living conditions of other family members. Some researchers suggest that compulsive hoarding may be associated with deprivation in early life, especially when it comes to hoarding food.

There is a particular set of problems connected with the hoarding of food. 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. Many hoarders do not feel that their accumulation of clutter is a problem. They think that they are being sensible by saving things that they think may become useful later. They also become oblivious to the odors of the rotten food or the harmful health risks associated with it.

While everyone is different and may 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. They may have experienced having their basic needs for life-sustaining food withheld or inadequately met. Food hoarders will rationalize keeping a particular food item even if it is expired. Most of the time, they are in denial about the damaging consequences of consuming expired foods.

They also have a tendency to buy large quantities of food items that are on sale and are unable to control their perpetual need to buy items. They typically think that they are conserving, but ironically compulsive food hoarders often waste more food than the ordinary individual because they often let uneaten food become rotten and expired or mixed-up in the clutter.

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