Secretive Eating: A Variation of Binge Eating Can Cause Fast Weight Gain

Secretive eating is a form of binge eating without the overt embarrassment and distress that can cause weight gain and failure to lose weight for many dieters.  Most people know or know of people who have the classic symptoms of binge eating. You may have seen them on TV or in the movies. Most are overweight or morbidly obese as opposed to bulimics who are usually thin because of the purging after eating.

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder,  yet often goes unrecognized. It is defined by recurrent episodes of eating in a short period of time accompanied by a lack of control and a feeling of distress.  In the pure form of binge eating the food is usually more than a similar person would eat in that time and it needs to occur once a week for at least 3 months.

What to Look For in Binge Eating Disorder

  • Eating Large amount of food in short time
  • Lack of control of eating
  • Rapid eating leading to discomfort
  • Often eating when not hungry
  • Eating alone because of embarrassment
  • Often feeling of disgust
  • Eating occurs once a week for 3 or more months
  • No purging after eating

Its not really the amount of food as much as it is the distress and embarrassment  and regularity of the habit that’s the key. Almost all of us have eaten too much, in a hurry and when not hungry(think of Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners).
If you are concerned about this eating disorder take part in a 16 part questionnaire.

If you are interested in treatment of binge eating read more.

Secretive Eating is Different from Binge Eating: More Common & Harder to Control

The “secretive eating”  type of disorder is less serious and less likely to lead to serious weight gain than pure binge eating. Because its not associated with huge weight gain nor cause much distress in the individual, its harder to recognize and treat. Secretive eating is not just eating alone, since many people often eat alone, nor is it unusually large amounts of food. Its the secretive, stealthy nature of the eating that distinguishes it. There is little to no feeling of loss of control. In fact, the individual enjoys it!

Eating in secret almost always involves eating high calorie, high carb foods which turn to fat almost immediately. These are the most pleasurable and the easiest to conceal. It not vegetables, fruits or proteins.

Foods Cause Emotional Reactions for Many People

Secretive eating and the pleasures of both the actual foods and the feeling that the individual has taken control away from the another person. (The teen that secretly eats a candy bar hidden in the closet or a women eating in the car on the way home from shopping. ) Just the nature of that type of eating gives the foods too much power over the dieter. Look at the grin on the lady in the picture. Have you ever felt that way when sneaking a sugary snack?

Overweight people trying to lose weight categorize snack & dessert foods into three categories:

  • Foods that produce guilt and cause secretive eating
  • Foods that produce pleasure-may or may not be high calorie
  • Foods that produce no emotional reaction

It’s the foods that produce guilt that cause almost all of the problems. Seeking approval from family, friends, and even co-workers, the majority of overweight people will go to extremes to hide how much they are eating. They may even hide foods and wrappers. Sometimes they are even hiding it from themselves. Hiding foods only makes them more appealing. The result is the need to eat even more. The goal of any successful weight loss plan is to burn belly fat. This become easy when the dieter realizes that secretive eating can ruin his/her diet plans.

Secretive Eating in the Car

People attempt to reduce consumptive guilt by hiding foods and wrappers. Whether eating in secret at the  drive-through, eating in the car while waiting in the carpool lane, ordering on the phone, the goal is get that approval: “Gee mom, you’re  doing well on your new diet,” or “Honey, you look better than when I married you.”  It does not matter whether they are on a diet at the time; it’s about reducing consumption guilt.

Secretive Eating Habits That Give Food Power Over You

Here are some secrets from hundreds of overweight people who disguise what they are eating from family and friends and end up undermining  their diet. Do any of these apply to you?

  • Eating food in tiny pieces or refilling small bowls, thinking its less
  • Sneaking food from your kid’s or spouse’s plates
  • Hiding food, only to eat it in secret later. Your secret stash of food is reserved only for you.
  • “Cleaning” the dinner plates after everyone leaves the table
  • Purposely making too much food so there are a lot of leftovers
  • Concealing what or how much you are eating by inviting a lot of people for dinner
  • Pleading for someone to order high calorie dessert, so you can share
  • Stopping for gas and going inside the station store
  • Eating at the movies in the dark
  • Eating pizza and hiding the crusts from your family
  • Waiting until your spouse goes to sleep to start on that bag of chips or candy bar
  • Eating in the car & hiding the wrappers in any “secret” place a
  • Eating food that has been discarded or someone others food.
  • You secretly eat in the bathroom

Any of these “secrets” only makes the foods more more desirable. It’s about making foods into the “forbidden fruits.” And nothing is more tempting than forbidden fruit.

Secretive Eating Can Be Controlled

  1. STOP eating in the car. Let’s face it, it’s a “safe” place to eat bad food.
  2. STOP eating off other people’s plates or leaving leftovers around.
  3. STOP hiding food and wrappers.