Dear Abby: ice chewing and marital strife

From today's Dear Abby:
DEAR ABBY: My husband has ice water with every meal. During breakfast and dinner he loudly crunches all of the ice in his glass throughout the meal.

I have asked him not to do it at the dinner table, but he thinks I'm being unreasonable. At breakfast, I usually eat in another room and wear noise reduction headphones.

Read the rest (via Under The Weather)


  1. This is kinda like some random email my wife forwards to me with no add’l comment.  I’m left wondering “What am I supposed to get out of this?  Is it that your friend isn’t available that weekend, so you are now available that weekend and I *can* go to poker?  Or is it that the mention of her mom moving?  Or some other tidbit I glanced over.”   I can’t figure out David’s angle! :-)

  2. I’m pretty sure David chews ice and it drives his wife nuts. Since Abby totally takes hubby’s side, he wants to be sure his wife sees this. They don’t have a ‘fridge, so he can’t cut the letter out and put it there, so he put it here.

      1. if you live alone or with a like-minded individual in a city, you often have lunch out and it’s not that hard to just pick up the fresh stuff for dinner on a daily/as-needed basis. you’d end up either keeping a cooler with ice or throwing some things out occasionally. however, if you plan well and/or are flexible enough, it just might be competitive with the energy savings.

        if i didn’t have roommates, i would seriously consider it.

          1. Make a small stew that you can finish, and the rest goes to jerky for long-term storage and snacking.

          2. I prefer to make a nice ragout and then can the leftovers.  Need a pressure-cooker/canner for that, though.

          3. I just don’t know that I buy that – people have been canning food since before they had pressure canners.

            If the 120 C in a pressure cooker is hot enough for canned goods, the 100 C in a plain old pot is good enough.

      2. Huh?   Depending on your location, it’s pretty easy to do without a fridge. Unless you need special medicaments, of course. 

        Whenever our fridge broke down, it took us months to get a new one (simple inertia and my wife’s urge to comparison shop).  Granted not during the summer months, but easy enough to do. 

        And we prepare and cook nearly all our meals.  I have colleagues who hardly eat at home at all.

    1. They don’t have a ‘fridge,

      Well apparently they have at least a freezer if the man is eating ice at every meal.

  3. I’ve heard that chewing ice was a sign of Vitamin D and Iron deficiency.

    I wonder if that is true in any way?

    1. My stupid little anecdote:

      I used to enjoy chewing ice, my iron an vitamin D have always been fine. Eventually I wore my canines down to stubs even in height with the adjacent teeth (due to nocturnal teeth grinding). Now my teeth are so sensitive anything colder than about 50F is immensely painful, so I have a visceral reaction to anyone chewing ice. But I am not a jerk about it, and just say nothing usually.

      1. I don’t like ice in my drinks because the cold bothers my teeth and can only remember chewing it because I was thirsty and there was nothing but ice left in the cup. 

        I have vitamin D deficiency to an extreme, but my primary symptom was a chronic dry and painful cough that lasted for six months or more and didn’t respond to asthma medication. That and weakness/wasting with bone pain. I have B12 anemia, but that’s different. I can kind of see how chewing ice might be part of iron deficiency because of the whole pica thing, but just from my experience with living without vit D, the chewing of the ice seems like it would be too exhausting and the increased joint and bone pain would probably amplify that. 

    2. “I wonder if that is true in any way?”

      Charming, but someone’s folksy wisdom confused it for a form of . Water is necessary for life and crunching ice is a pleasurable activity, you wouldn’t do it for some form of mineral deficiency.

    3. I’ve always chewed ice, but about a year and a half ago I started chewing it a lot. I’d often chew more than a tray a day, drinking water so I’d have an excuse.

      I’d heard of the pica/anemia thing too, but being young and male I thought anemia was out of the question.

      Well, turns out I was borderline anemic. Took iron supplements for a couple months and the urge went away. It’s come back since, and I was again confirmed to be borderline anemic. Supplements made it go away a second time.

    4. I used to chew ice when I was a child, and I do have a Vit D deficiency and a tendency toward mild anemia.

    5. For years I used to chew ice and guzzle slushies. A few months of iron supplements totally eliminated the urge. Such a bizarre symtom/side effect.

    6.  It can be, but it’s not the only thing that can cause ice chewing. Some people just like crunchy things.

      Of course, an extreme interest in crunching things or chewing inorganic stuff can be a sort of “hangover” habit from a previous bout of pica. I had pica all through my childhood; it only really went away after I went on iron supplements (so probably anaemia) but I still like to chew things. The scope of things I gnaw on has retracted dramatically and I don’t swallow them afterwards (so, I don’t eat paper, pencils, erasers, candles, etc.) but hard candy and ice are irresistible crunchy things.

      My dentist is going to just fire me as a patient one of these days.

  4. That’s almost as bad as people who will scrape, scrape, scrape the bottom of their yogurt container to get every last smear of yogurt.  Scrape, scrape, scrape… (pause), scrape, scrape, scrape, scrape, scrape, scrape… scrape, scrape, scrape…

      1. I wish more people would just surreptitiously lick instead of the scrape scrape tap thing. It is truly obnoxious in an office when you are trying to concentrate and from six cubes away…. scrape scrape scrape…. OH FFS JUST EAT A SECOND CUP OF YOGURT ALREADY.

        But it is not so obnoxious as the people who eat nachos/chips/possibly rocks for 7 hours of the day while working.

        1. This all makes me inexpressibly glad I am self-employed.  I’m already neurotic enough.

        2.  People eating chips near me drive me insane.

          CRRRRRUNCH chew chew chew
          CRRUNCH chew chew chew chew
          *pause* *pause*
          CRRRRRRRRUNCH chew chew chew chew chew


      1.  I keep a bamboo spoon in my desk drawer at work for my morning yogurt; I also can’t stand hearing noisy eating sounds from the cubes around me, and I want to be more considerate than my colleagues are. People eating crunchy things are the worst–I swear sometimes it sounds like they’re eating their own teeth.

  5. My jaw pops what with the Ehlers-Danlos and whatnot.  Years ago, a gentleman that I was dating actually complained to me that the sound from my dysfunctional joint was disturbing his appetite.  The sound of my jaw popping was nothing compared to the crunching sound of his bones.

    1. I have to bite on something (a highlighter pen or a lighter usually) when I wake up to make my jaw click like cracking my knuckles or it drives me nuts.

    2. Funny. When my wife asked the dreaded question: “What’s the worst thing about me?”, I answered that her jaw cracks while she eats (could have been worse)! But the problem is that she chews everything, even soup and tea! Not so noticeable with food, but a lot while having breakfast in bed… I don’t notice it so much nowadays… getting hard of hearing maybe?

    3.  To be honest, sometimes the sound of my jaw popping disturbs my appetite. But my co-worker cracks his jaw and neck as well as the traditional knuckles, so I think he wins the disturbing skeletal noises contest.

    4. Heh… my dad is a massively loud eater. Slurping, crunching, everything. But he could never stand the sound or sight of my eating as a child and nothing I did to try and keep quiet seemed to keep him from getting upset (it really didn’t matter what I was eating or whether it was capable of making noise), which then upset everyone. So I ate separately, often in the closet, or had to wait to eat until he left :/ Kept me thin though!

      1. I  had an ex like that. He couldn’t stand the sound of crunching, so I got really nervous whenever I’d be eating anything that wasn’t mush. I would avoid raw veggies, chips, toast, etc in his presence because I didn’t want him to start yet another thing.

        The ‘crunching aversion’ was just another way to make me feel uncomfortable and anxious by doing something as totally normal as eating. He was  the kind of person who feels happier by making everyone else around miserable.

        1. This came up later in the comment thread (see below), but your ex may have legitimately experienced misophonia, which is a real condition with possibly neurological (rather than what one might call “emotional”) roots.  At the very least there may be a vicious cycle in which neurological and emotional manifestations heighten each other.  In his defense, the imposition of misery may not have been as willful or as malicious as you perceived it to be.

          1. Really, it was his cruel and violent behaviour towards others that made me think it was malicious, not just the crunching issue itself.

  6. Sounds like two sensory integration needs completely at odds with one another, not necessarily “hearing loss”. I do agree with Abby though that persisting in doing something that bothers his wife without a compromise that honors her as an equal in the house is more than insensitive.

  7. Well, I used to be an ice cruncher, mainly because I was still thirsty/hungry and that was all that was left in the glass. Now I just ask for “no ice” and don’t have that problem.

    As for the anemia thing, while anecdotal, a co-worker with anemia complains every week or so that our workplace got rid of the ice machine (as well as the accompanying fountain) because she regularly had a cup or two of ice to munch on during her shift.

  8. What food pairs best with ice? His ice eating obsession would drive me up the wall if I spent a few hours making Boeuf Bourguignon or a Yotam Ottolenghi dish for dinner. And forget about candles.

  9. Sigmund Freud is rumored to have said that chewing ice is a sign of sexual frustration. 

    I mean. Come on. Is this one of those jokes that everyone deliberately doesn’t say and I’m the idiot?

  10. She’s not very inventive.  I’d dissolve some tranqs in water and freeze that into cubes.

      1. And who would ever know?

        Just like this:

  11. There’s a great word for hating certain noises,  particularly other people’s eating moises. Misophonia.  What a lovely word. It cheers me up when I have to listen to someone else’s chewing.. 

        1. It’d be a misophonist, if anything; the “miso-” is dislike (think misogynist) of “-phone” which is sound. A “phonophile” would be someone who likes it!

          I also know someone who suffers from it, and I can promise that it is a real condition with real-world challenges. The wikipedia page is quite bare — I don’t think there’s a lot that’s known about the condition — but it’s important for people to be aware of it

  12. Dear Hates-The-Crunching, relationships are all about give and take. You should give your husband a boot up the arse and take his ice cubes out of the freezer when he’s not looking. 

    Just joking of course. I hope this was resolved amicably.

  13. Uh oh, as a Canadian who rarely eats meat, my ice crunching probably IS related to Vitamin D and iron deficiencies. And my teeth already have enough problems. Dammit, I’m training for a half marathon – my diet continues to require more and more consideration! How do some people get away with just EATING things, instead of having to plan it out so much? Ugh.

  14. Her reply was so spot on, this is why she was THE BEST. I am not deaf but my hearing gets super sensitive when I am tired and I never would have thought that this could have been part of the issue. Agree the husband should have stopped but we all know husbands and wives like to get each others goats. 

  15. all of this is why i TURN THE CHANNELS in a disgusted panic whenever one of those HORRENDOUS Carl’s Jr. chomping chewing slurping drooling gross people eating commercials comes on FUCKIN YUCK!

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