Confessions Of A Closet Eater

Turn Your Life AroundThere are so many different facets to having a weight problem and unless you’ve been there, some of them may be difficult to understand.  One that was a tremendous struggle for me was closet eating.

As I have said before, I self-medicated with food to deal with sadness and unhappiness.  That did not always mean that other people saw me consume large quantities of food.  Don’t get me wrong, my portion sizes were way out of whack and I consumed A LOT of junk food, but sometimes, all of those things paled in comparison to what I ate behind closed doors.

Because food was my drug of choice, I turned to it for every emotion from extreme happiness to extreme sadness, tremendous stress, and everything in between.  Happy eating I would usually do in front of other people, but the sad and stressed eating tended to take place in private.  As you can imagine, the foods I was consuming were nothing short of terrible and even if I did happen to consume a healthy food, I would do it in such quantities that all health benefits were completely negated.  From chips dipped in sour cream to snack cakes, cookies, cheese, canned soup, peanut butter, you name it and I would turn to it when no one was looking.  I think about some of the things I used to eat and it gives me a stomach ache now.  I have such powerful emotions attached to some of these foods that I cannot eat them today as they trigger a lot of those old feelings in me all over again.

When I was eating behind closed doors, I knew what I was doing was not only detrimental to my physique but to my health as well.  The problem was I felt like I couldn’t stop.  As the stress and sadness grew in my life, the closet eating became more and more severe.  Sometimes, I would eat until my stomach and teeth literally ached and yet I could not seem to stop.  I was trying so hard to fill all of the voids in my life, but as we all know, the food was not doing the trick.

The closet eating went on until the day I joined Weight Watchers; literally.  Once I made the decision that I was going to lose the weight and stick to the program, no matter what, I had to stop gorging myself in private, or any other time for that matter.  The problem for me has been that those urges do not just go away.  I fight the closet eating battle every day, even though I am at an incredibly happy place in life now.  I think it’s a habit that just has to be broken, like any other bad habit.

So how am I doing it?  Very carefully.  One preventative measure that really helps me is to not have certain foods in the house, AT ALL!  Any food that I used to binge on is strictly off-limits in my house.  Having access to any of those foods could trigger a backslide and I cannot take that chance.  For example, peanut butter was a real problem food for me in the past and anyone who knows me knows that I NEVER have peanut butter in my house.  I have to avoid it to protect myself.  Another method I employee when I am feeling the urge to eat when no one is around is to talk to myself and remind myself of how far I’ve come and how I don’t want to do anything to mess myself up.  Sometimes I go workout, call a friend, or leave the house to errands if I am really feeling the urge to eat foods I shouldn’t.  And sometimes, I simply pray.  I will pray for God to give me the strength to fight the urge to eat and before I know it, the urge has passed.

My point is I think closet eating is a more common problem than people realize.  I wonder if any of you have struggled with this issue.  If so, I can completely relate and I understand how you feel.  I can also tell you that with determination and perseverance, you can overcome the problem.  This is also one of those issues where I definitely think you need to enlist the support of a trusted family member or friend.  I know that this is not a problem you want to broadcast to the world, but if you can confide in one or two people, they can serve as a great support system for you.  By trusting a few people with my problem, I had people I could call when I felt like eating in private and talk through the issue.

My former Weight Watchers leader and good friend Jacynta taught me a wonderful mantra regarding this specific issue and I recite it to myself a lot; “Eating in private shows up in public.”  These are such true words that really struck home with me.  If you are struggling with this issue, please know that you are not alone and please don’t be afraid to ask for help. You owe it to yourself to get past the issue so you can focus on your health.Eating in Private


  1. Johanna B says:

    I am a secret eater. I never overeat in front of people. I hear all the time that folks around me wonder why I am so fat. It must be glandular. But I know why. There is no doubt in my mind that I binge in secret.

    • Johanna, thank you so much for sharing your struggle! One way that I was able to start dealing with my closet eating was to confide in a very close friend, whom I knew I could trust, what I was doing and that helped me to start feeling more accountable for my actions. Another method I used, and still use today if I feel like I am going to engage in some secret eating, is to get out of the house. I find something else to do whether I go for a walk, to the library, or just to run some errands. It is an extremely difficult thing to overcome and honestly, I think you always battle it to some extent. It can be managed though. I really appreciate your comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: