Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Nov 12

Purging a Secret

Part of a text conversation between me and Craig on Friday: 

Me:  I made a big mistake.

Craig: What happened?

Me:  I ate the expired yogurt.  Think I’m going to vomit.

Craig:  Oh, no.  How long ago did you eat it?

Me:  3 hrs

Craig:  Right on schedule.  Better to vomit.

Me:  No!

As I finished that last word, I was at the park with the dogs, bent over on one of the trails, mouth watering.  ‘It was only two days past the expiration date. You are not going to vomit.  You are not going to vomit.   Think about something else  This is not going to happen.’ 

The dogs were happy to stand around in the sunshine but I was quickly trying to get myself together before the elderly couple I had recently passed caught up with me, wondering why I was suddenly three shades of green and foaming at the mouth.  I took several deep breaths, stood, and started making my way back to the car.


See that date that I circled?  Turns out it’s not there to look pretty – it actually means something!


Your first question I am assuming would be, ‘Why on earth would you eat yogurt that was 4 days past the expiration date in the first place?’  That is a good question.  What can I say?  I grew up in a household where we frequently ate expired goods – especially canned goods.  My dad would assure me that, ‘if it ain’t bloated at the top, it’s perfectly fine.’  It’s a miracle I never ended up in the hospital with botulism.

Before I continue, let me just say (in order to regain some sense of dignity here) that don’t normally go around deeming a piece of stale bread Grade A Quality after picking off the fuzzy mold.  I am not crazy weird.  And, I might add – Greek yogurt is tart anyway.  Plus, it was only 6 days past the use-by date. 

….okay, it was nine – are you happy?  It had been expired for NINE days, but I swear I did not know that when I ate it.  I mean yes, I new that I was eating expired food but did not realize it was that far past until I got back home and dug through the trash to find the foil lid.  Please don’t be grossed out by me.

When Craig came home from work, the first thing he asked was, ‘Well?  Did you?”  No, I did not.  I could have – in fact, I came close several times but willed it back down. I am one of those people who will do anything to keep from vomiting. I’ve always been that way. I think it’s because I become afraid when I don’t have control over my body, and anyone who’s ever thrown up will tell you that it’s quite a sight; it kind of feels like I’m fighting an exorcism. 

Instead, I spent the entire day listening to my stomach churn, rumble and make all kinds of strange noises while I moaned from nausea.  It lasted until Saturday afternoon until, finally, I was able to eat some oatmeal. 

I’m feeling much better now, but am a little unsure as to whether I should be proud of myself or seek mental help.  I mean, on the one hand I think it’s pretty awesome realizing that I can will my body to push through even the most unpleasant of circumstances (I’ll have zero excuse of being too tired to hike that last mile).  On the other hand,  it is still disturbing me as to why I thought eating expired food was a better choice than simply throwing it away.  Maybe my long-gone father was speaking to me from beyond…

I’m so proud of you, Ellen. You didn’t need your stomach pumped and you saved a whole dollar!  Woo-Hoo!

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a bad experience with food poisoning.  There was the special date night Craig and I had many years ago that required several phone calls to Ask-a-Nurse before ending in a shared bottle of syrup of ipecac.  That story is for another time, however.  Come back later in the week as I dedicate Friday ‘National Purge and Hurl Day’ and share it with you.  Right now, my stomach just can’t take it. 

Question:  How strict are you with expiration dates?  Anyone else grow up in a frugal household (with a depression-era father as a double-whammy) and base your call of spoiled food on the ‘bloat-factor’? 


Wow.  My teachers were right.  I am special. 


Have a good week, everyone.  Watch those dates.



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  1. Well, first of all, I’m glad you avoided a trip to the ER and that you’re feeling better!

    I grew up in a “waste not” home, too. I can remember watching in horror as my dad cut mold from cheese (“You just need to clear the mold by a quarter inch and it’s good as new!”) and give every food the “sniff test” before discarding it, no matter how long past the expiration date on the package.

    I’m not quite as bad as that, but I do try not to waste food. My solution is to stick everything approaching expiration into the freezer and hope it turns out okay. (Coincidentally, I’ve got a container of Chobani in the freezer now, rescued on the use-by date.:) )

    • Ellen says:

      Oh, my dad used to do that, too. So did my mother. And, it seemed like eggs were kept in our frig for months! Certain things I’m very strict about – meat being number one. There is a reason behind that, of course – which I’ll be sharing on Friday. Other things though, well – let’s just say I learn the hard way.
      btw, I made it to Kroger today, Cammy. You’d have been so proud of me – all the great things I got on clearance (again, close to the expire date – but these things went straight to freezer) lol

  2. NewMe says:

    I once had a chat with the owner of a small dairy that produces sheep’s milk products. She assured me that going a few days past the best before date is no problem at all. She and her family eat lots of “expired” products they haven’t sold and are none the worse for it.

    Personally, I wouldn’t eat something that had expired a month ago or more. In fact, I’m usually pretty good about not eating anything that’s past a day or two and still unopened (opened is a whole different ball game; just don’t eat it). Although I am careful, I think as a society, we’ve gotten ourselves into a bit snit about so many things to the point where, for many people, even eating one piece of bread has become a mortal sin.

    Don’t sweat it. A green face does not become you!

    • Ellen says:

      I’m glad to hear that. I’m cautious about meat in particular, but I just never dreamed that the yogurt would be bad – it certainly didn’t look curdled or anything. In fact, now that I think about it – it could have been the fruit that was bad, too. Hmm…

  3. Mary says:

    Working in grocery stores, I learned a bit about the dates on foods – they aren’t all equal. Use by/sell by/best if used by are all different! “Use by” is the one you should follow closest, though if there are no odd smells, colors, textures, etc., they may be fine a few more days (there are enough preservatives in things these days to ensure that!). “Bestif used by” has a bit more flexibility. And goods are usually safe for at least 7-12 days beyond the “sell by” day, which is just the last day stores are supposed to keep them on their shelves for display. For example, eggs have a week or so after packaging for their “sell by” date just to keep stores’ stocks fresh, but are safe in your fridge for 3-5 weeks.

  4. Roxie says:

    I rely on the “sniff” test – I would have been right there with you. Yogurt past its’ prime – it just gets more yogurty, right? I guess not.

    • Ellen says:

      My yogurt had that little compartment that had the fruit, too. Now I’m wondering if the fruit was bad on top of the yogurt. At least I didn’t get completely turned off by yogurt all together. Sometimes that happens (for the longest time I couldn’t even look at a hot dog).

  5. Norma says:


    I had three traumatic dairy experiences many years ago and ever since, I will not eat anything that’s even, like…a day BEFORE due date! 😉 I once ate a cup of yogurt, thinking the whole time, “this seems a little tart, hmmm”…after I finished it, I saw the lid in the trash and it was like…A MONTH OLD. Promptly threw up on purpose. A few months later I remember looking SO forward to a big bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (mind you, both these things happened when I was a kid in my late teens living at home). I grabbed the milk, began pouring…and clumps of solidified, cottage-cheesey rotten milk fell out. And then, a few years later, when I was working in retail, we used to carry these things called Shake-Ups from Hood, that were like a milkshake in a carton (yeah, really good for ya!) — I was monster-craving chocolate, so I bought one for my break, opened the carton and all this foam started fizzing out of it…smelled horrible…ugh! Well, there you go. I did love how you told this story…two days…four days…etc.! :)

  6. Given my, ah, “phobia” around this subject, I am pleased to say that I was able to read it and not go weak in the knees. And? I have to say that I would have given in and purged it. As much as I hate…you know, the thought of the offending food staying IN me is worse. Anyway, glad you’re okay.

    I am pretty strict about use-by dates and I too, grew up in a “waste not” home.

    • Ellen says:

      Karen, I kid you not – I almost put a disclaimer with your name at the top as a warning. I’m proud that you made it through. I will tell you however – you may not want to come anywhere near my blog on Friday. It’s a funny story – NOW. At the time though, it was (and still is) considered my worst vomit story ever.

  7. munchberry says:

    HahaI was wondering whether Karen Anderson could make it thru your post! Whew. Good for her!

    You already know my feelings on the topic. But I shall add that I never know whether the date (unless it says) is a sell by or a use by. Still… I use those dates as a guideline and not a hard and fast rule.

    Cammy would hate my house. I cut off the mold from cheese. Hard cheese – not slices or curds. It is perfectly OK to eat. Do you eat brie? If so and are squeamish – never look into how it is crafted.

    Feel better sicky.

    • Ellen says:

      I thought the same thing. I told her that I was seriously considering a disclaimer at the top with her name on it. She was a trooper, though!
      You have me intrigued regarding brie, now. Maybe I’ll wait a few days, though. I’m still not completely back to normal. I had dinner tonight (my first full meal since Friday) and it’s not sitting terribly well. Blah!

  8. I hope you are feeling better! My boyfriend gets nervous if we even approach the date that says “best by” so normally we don’t have that issue around the house.

    I did accidentally eat plain yogurt that was expired once because I was traveling and had no clue my boyfriend didn’t finish the old one and replace the new one. It was just the old one. I was fine but my stomach was upset for a few days :)

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you, Grace. Better. Not normal, yet – but better! With yogurt, it’s so hard to tell, isn’t it? I figure if it looks chunky, that’s a sure sign (I’m a genius, aren’t I?) lol

  9. Lisa says:

    I grew up where food wasn’t trashed unless it had developed into a biology experiment. It would probably gross you out to know that my mother keeps yogurt for months past it’s expiration date and eats it! Yogurt is soured milk, so how could it really go bad? Perhaps Greek yogurt is different. I am very picky about my milk and will throw it out if it doesn’t smell right. Perhaps it is that products just aren’t made like they used to be. I recently ate some crackers that were stale, but I didn’t realize they were out of date until I was done with them. My stomach was upset! Cereals that contain milk products get trashed if they go past their expiration date, other than that and milk I let things stay until I eat them or until they smell or look bad.
    Hope you are feeling ok today!

    • Ellen says:

      Lisa, that is too funny. A biology experiment is a good way to put it. Same at our house, too. Milk and sour cream are two things that I have no problem tossing even at the slightest hint of a strange smell. Meat is another one. I’m a freak about meat being possibly spoiled.

  10. teresa says:

    Oh my, you poor sweetie.
    I can’t wait to show this to Stephen. He eats everything past the date. He said he still as a “bachelor stomach” and can handle insane things. Of course as the years go by that he hasn’t been a bachelor, his stomach seems to be getting more like a normal human.
    Especially yogurt though!! He even had me convinced to eat yogurt past the date. So this is our cautionary tale.
    Other stuff I throw away. Luckily I have a mother who was “better safe that sorry” and she always said if you have any doubts, throw it away. Now you know why.
    It’s hard to throw food away. But we need to sometimes.
    I just have to say that as much as you hate throwing up, you might have felt sooooo much better. Your body was trying to get rid of bad stuff.
    I’m a real Linda Blair barfer (speaking of exorcist like heaves). I make the most horrible noises.
    and on that note..

    • Ellen says:

      There are some guys that are just like that. I know a person who swears that ‘freezer burn’ simply doesn’t exist. He’ll eat anything from the freezer no matter how long it’s been in there. Even if it has a block of ice around it.
      Oh, and I would have felt better if I’d thrown up – you’re right. I’m just SUCH a baby about it, though. I just can’t do it.

  11. LauraJayne says:

    I have the opposite problem – I am rarely able to throw up, even when I know it will make me feel better.

  12. Jenn @ Cooking Aweigh the Pounds says:

    I play pretty fast and loose with expiration dates and I rely heavily on the gold ol’ sniff test. I grew up in that type of household so I’m sure it’s built me a strong iron stomach!

    I have gotten food poisoning before, but only from restaurants. Even their rules, regulations, and routine inspections couldn’t protect me. Either that or I eat out too much. :)

  13. didi says:

    I never check expiration dates, but I do smell everything before I will eat it. A cousin used to make fun of me because after he moved in he noticed that I was using condiments (salad dressing, ketchup, mustard, etc) that were REALLY expired. Like, let’s say at least a year past their dates. They tasted fine to me. (I was aghast that he always was buying generic off brand things- that stuff tastes terrible even before it expires!)
    I’ve eaten yogurt that was way past its prime (by a month or more) and have always been fine, so I usually throw caution to the wind with expiration dates.
    I’ve gotten food poisoning a few times, but it has always been at restaurants.

  14. Hanlie says:

    I rarely vomit and I certainly can’t induce it! I don’t take note of expiration dates really, but then I don’t often buy things that have dates on them, apart from pre-packaged fruit and vegetables, in which case I can quickly tell if it’s off or not. If it’s not rotting, I will eat it regardless of the label.

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