The Skinny Daily Post™

Short, daily essays on weight loss and fitness
from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs.
and works every day to keep it off.

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Saturday, November 22, 2003  

Sneaking Food
Write it out of your system

I have always been a sneaky eater. I try very hard not to sneak food now, but I grew up sneak-eating, and it's a hard habit to break.

*I snuck food out of competition, getting my hands on cookies before my siblings did.
*I snuck food out of shame, eating when no one was looking to avoid comments about my size.
*I snuck "forbidden foods," food that was either forbidden, or set aside for special purposes (Christmas cookies baked well in advance of the holiday), or stashed by someone else as part of their own private hoard.
*I wasn't much of a hoarder myself, but would buy my own candy and try to eat it before returning home.
*I snuck food when I was babysitting.
*I snuck food when I visited friends.
*I snuck food on trips, working in restaurants. Pretty much everywhere I could.

Sometimes sneaky eating is one symptom of bulimia, or other kinds of disordered eating. But if you ask a roomful of folks if they ever snuck food, you'll find that most people did at one time or still do. And it usually comes down to one of three reasons: competition among sibs, shame, forbidden fruit.

As I grew up this sneak eating became eating crazy foods on the way home from the grocery store, then getting rid of the packaging before anyone could see it, stealing French fries from my husband's fast food order after not ordering them for myself, and eating snacks out of view of other people, so no one could watch me eat between meals.

My sneak eating has diminished to the rare event now, but I still find myself feeling very awkward about eating between meals in public. I carry around some crazy kind of shame associated with eating publicly. It's a hold-over. It doesn't make any kind of sense at all, but it's definitely there.

Also, honestly, there is a kind of thrill to sneak eating. It's not unlike sneaking cigarettes. A joy ride. I still feel as if I have gotten away with something very bad. As if I've been bad to the bone. Defiant. Working out some anger, maybe. Some kind of rebellion.

So today, I'd like to unravel the feelings I'm having when I sneak, try to figure out what I'm really up to during these times, make a plan for what I'm going to do instead of sneak the next time the urge comes up.

I have a right to eat food when I'm hungry, and to eat it in the open, as anyone would.

I also need to understand when I'm using food to deal with something that maybe I should deal with in a more direct, or at least less self-destructive way.

So if sneaky eating has been a problem for you and still is, here's our writing assignment: In your journal, or in a letter to yourself, recall a time when you snuck food, and why you think you did. Try to get to the details of it. When was it? What kind of food? Where was the food, and where did you eat it? How did it taste? How much did you eat? How quickly? What kind of work did you have to do to cover your tracks? Who were you sneaking or hiding from? Why? How did you feel when you were through eating? Do you sneak food now? Why? Are you hungry when you sneak food? Why would eating this food out in the open be out of the question? How does remembering this episode make you feel? What do you think it's going to take to get over sneaky eating? Do you think you can do it on your own, or do you need help?

Spend some time reading over what you've written, and then make a plan for changing things. Write that down too. The next time you get the urge to sneak, what will you do differently, or do instead? I plan to pull out my journal (it's always with me), and write and write until I figure out the real urge. Because for me, it's almost never hunger. It's almost always something else. And then I'm going to try to find some reward that feels as good as sneaking but isn't self-destructive to mollify myself at those times.

I'll find something that works for me. What will you find to work for you?

There's help here for serious eating problems

Overeaters Anonymous, where skillions get help

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posted by Julie |
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