woman secret eating an ice cream

What is Secret Eating?

Do you think you may be secret eating? If you are you are not alone. See signs of secret eating habits here. Secret Eating is eating food and trying to hide it and or eating alone and hoping that no one sees. It might be; hiding food around the house, eating whilst no one is looking, hiding the evidence, eating whilst doing something like driving the car when you are on your own but denying it to yourself, eating others leftovers, eating off your kids plate but not letting them see. Really what underpins it is the not wanting anyone to know or anyone to see you.

Why do we eat secretively?

Food can evoke so many feelings in us. When we are secret eating we think that we are doing something wrong.  There could be an element of embarrassment or shame over our eating.
We may feel that once we start eating we have no control and it is like a demon has taken over and we are on autopilot that just keeps us reaching for more food. Afterwards we may feel a great sense of embarrassment or guilt.
Whilst we are eating, we may get a huge sense of pleasure from it. It is fulfilling something inside of us. It can also be fun can’t it? Think back to when you were a child and doing something sneaky can be quite thrilling. It is your own secret and that can be quite fun, there is something that is very exciting about it. Read one woman’s story of her secret eating and binge eating.

After the eating, or the next day, this is when feelings of guilt or shame might creep in. We may feel like we have been bad, naughty and get down on ourselves at what we have done. These feelings are perpetuated if we are overweight and we are trying to loose weight. We may protest that tomorrow we will not do it and of course we do. Which furthers the belief that we are bad, rubbish and or have no self control.

What we can do to stop the Secret Eating?

You can stop your secret eating and binge eating by following these simple steps.

1. Look inwards

Looking inwards is being introspective. This is the way that we are going to find out the driver behind our behaviours. Ask yourself these questions;
Are we worried what others will think of us? What are we ashamed of? If we were not concerned with others, or ashamed of ourselves we would eat and not hide it.
What is the pleasurable about secret eating? Work out is it the food that is giving you pleasure and if so what food exactly gives you pleasure? The next one then is it the amount of food that gives you pleasure or is it that you are finding doing it in secret a thrill.
When you can work out what is driving your behaviour then you can start to manage it and you will find the behaviour will change.

2. Mindfulness

Sometimes it can be hard to answer those questions because our behaviours might be done unconsciously. For instance if you eat in the car, or pick off your kids plate, you may not be aware of how much you are eating. You may think you have only eaten 1 chocolate bar when the reality is you have eaten nearly a whole bumper pack.

Practising mindfulness is not a finger pointing exercise, more it is an awareness practise. It is being an observer of yourself. It is not trying to stop your behaviours for the moment, that will come. If we force the behaviour to stop, it will cause other behaviours elsewhere. We really want to practise being mindful whilst we are doing the behaviour and then ask questions as we are doing it. The best mindset is to be curious. Instead of harshness, oh I am doing it again, start with that’s interesting, why am I eating off the kids plate? Why am I doing X, What is this about for me? A curious mind allows us to answer truthfully with ourselves and we get to understand our behaviours better.

3. Acceptance

When we can accept that our behaviour is not wrong, there really is nothing wrong with you eating half the fridge if you want to. It is accepting that you are now an adult and you can eat as much or as little as you want, there is nothing wrong in it. Now ok if you eat more you will put on a little weight, but it is not as if you are going to go up 10 stone overnight. Acceptance, also comes with forgiveness. Forgiving yourself for any perceived wrong doings and the word I am emphasising here is perceived because eating food is not wrong. We also have to accept, like anyone trying to change behaviours that this may not happen overnight. There may be a few more secret eating sessions, adding in mindfulness and more introspection to help you change your mindset and thoughts that you need.

You may also be feeling an element of guilt, shame and or embarrassment or disgust at yourself the next day and acceptance is moving away from that, to one of forgiveness. Telling yourself this behaviour is not going to last forever, I am on the road to changing my behaviours. Noticing how you feel and this is where you are now and next week you may be in a slightly different place.

About Vanessa McLennan

Vanessa is an emotional eating expert with a passion for natural health, superfoods and psychology. She helps women from all over the world to successfully lose weight by escaping the diet cycle and end their emotional eating patterns. She holds a diploma in Hypnotherapy as well as qualifications in EMDR, EFT, Emotional Eating, IBS therapist. Check out her free guide to help you break free of the diet cycle www.mindbehindweightloss.co.uk/lp/break-free/

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