There are a lot of good reasons to be a sneaky eater. The best reason is because we all know, “if nobody sees you do it then it didn’t happen!”
All kidding aside, as silly as that sounds, there’s some truth to it. Most of us who sneak food want to hide our eating from others, but more than that, we would like to hide it from ourselves too.
Whether or not there are witnesses and despite our convenient lapse of memory in regards to eating the bag of chips, or a handful of cookies, or the carton of ice cream, it happened. We have a built-in calorie counter that’s counting every calorie we consume.
If you think about the foods you sneak, you’ll probably find a pattern. Notice what foods you’re sneaking. I doubt you’re hiding to polish off a bag of produce. You’re probably eating your low-fat yogurt right out in the open for everybody to see.
Sneaky eating is usually connected to eating what some may call “junk food.” Foods that have more calories, fat and salt than nutrients are the foods we eat in secret. The junk foods, including some fast foods, we eat make us feel guilty. Feeling guilty makes us want to hide when we indulge. Hiding when we indulge increases our guilt and as guilt grows, so does the feeling of being weak and out of control.
The more guilt we feel about certain food choices, the bigger the sneaky eating habit grows and with it grows self loathing. It’s hard to stop a destructive cycle when we feel weak and are filled with self-loathing.
The cycle can be stopped in 4 steps:
Step 1: End your food classifications – No more healthy food, no more junk food. Food is food – Some foods are better for you than others, but any can be eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Ending the good and bad association with your food choices helps you move away from a destructive diet mentality.
Step 2: Keep a food journal. Tracking your food helps you to recognize how balanced or imbalanced your diet is over the course of several days.
Step 3: Make a rule for yourself: Any and everything you eat must be eaten and enjoyed out in the open.
Step 4: Portion control is important! Avoid eating straight from the bag or carton. Prepare a serving for yourself, eat it slowly savoring every bite.
Depending on how deeply routed your habit of closet eating may be, it could be very challenging to adhere to Step 3.
It helps to know that sneaky eating isn’t shameful and is no reflection of your moral character. It also helps to know that you’re not alone in that habit and that there are good people, just like you, working to overcome their closet eating behaviors.
Sneaking food isn’t tricking anybody, especially you! It’s counterproductive to your weight-related goals. Take back your right to eat what you like and learn how to enjoy your foods with flexible restraint.