Secret Eating

I’m taking this post to address something that we ALL do….whether we admit it or not, particularly women.  This is a little something called “secret eating”.  Secret eating, simply defined, is when we eat something in secret, or hide eating it because we feel ashamed or feel that we might be judged.  It can be something as simple as grabbing a spoonful of peanut butter when no one is looking, to more serious late night binges.  I want to take the time to address this because I’ll admit, I’m as guilty of it as anyone else.  There have definitely been moments when I’ll steal to the kitchen at midnight while D isn’t looking to grab a spoonful of ice cream or a piece of chocolate.  But ultimately, this behavior isn’t healthy and leads to a bad cycle of shameful eating.

For anyone who is watching what they eat, there are definitely foods that we avoid more than others: sweets, fried foods, salty foods, soda, etc…  Secret eating, I would argue, is the fulfillment of eating foods that are “off limits”.  It feels sneaky, dangerous, and a little fun to do this, and of course…if no one is looking, it doesn’t count!  But ultimately, if it becomes a regular thing, secret eating can sabotage your health in more ways than one…because guess what??  Unfortunately, EVERYTHING counts.

A lot of secret eating is psychological.  We eat to comfort ourselves, and food can be particularly soothing in times of depression or stress.  We eat in secret because the food is naughty and we feel guilty for eating it.  After we eat it, we feel even MORE guilty or deny having done it at all.  This leads to a really bad cycle of guilt and shame around eating foods that are less healthy.  So how do you break the cycle??

First, don’t put any food “off limits”.  This is easier said than done, but really, this is the reason I am so against diets.  Any time you deprive yourself of something, it gives the food a certain “naughty” mystique.  It makes you crave the food even more than you would regularly.  So quit it already!

Second, don’t eat in the dark!  After you’re done with dinner, have a piece of gum or brush your teeth.  I have found that this makes me less likely to go back to the kitchen for a little treat and more likely to forget that I have a craving for something at all.  If you have a craving, also drinking a glass of water or sitting for 5 minutes helps to take my mind off of it, and before you know it, the craving is completely gone.

Eat your food on a plate.  This signifies to your brain that you are eating a filling, balanced meal and makes you ultimately feel more satisfied.  This move also helps eliminate all the little bites of things, nibbles, etc…  that we all do when we’re hungry.

Finally, dont feel guilty!  If you do slip up and eat something in secret, remember it is just a one time thing and cut yourself some slack.  No one is perfect and tomorrow is a new day!

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