I prefer to eat in private, where no one else can see.
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I eat healthy in front of other people but then "hog it up" in private.
I follow a healthy diet during the day, just to fall off the wagon at night.
I sneak food secretly and eat it away from others.
If you can relate to any of the statements above, then you might be a "closet eater." This secret eating life of yours sabotages your fitness goals, making it impossible to look and feel the way you want.
Now, before we jump into this topic, it's important to approach yourself from a place of love and respect. Resist the urge to look at yourself as a failure as you work to drop unhealthful eating habits.
Use the following five steps to curb your closet eating once and for all:
Step No. 1: Learn your triggers.
Journal about the feelings you experience before, during and after an episode of closet eating. Was there a particular trigger that caused you to feel stressed, angry or helpless before the urge to eat in secrecy hit you?
Refer back to your journal after a handful of episodes and try to determine a pattern. This will allow you to prepare yourself with an exit plan before the next potential episode.
For example, if you find that your closet eating occurs mainly when your spouse goes out of town on business, then make plans to visit with friends rather than be alone at home with food.
Step No. 2: Log every calorie.
Let's face the facts. Just because no one sees you eat it, doesn't mean that the calories don't exist. The simple act of tallying each food item that you eat will force you to be more mindful of your eating habits.
Find your ideal calorie range by consulting your doctor, and be aware of how close you come to that range each day. Resist the urge to not log foods that are eaten in secrecy.
The point is to bring accountability to the situation, so be vigilant.
Step No. 3: Carry healthful snacks.
When the urge to eat in secrecy hits you, it might be useful to allow yourself the snack, but change the script slightly by making it healthy and portion controlled.
Eat one of these snacks every few hours to prevent from becoming overly hungry, thus more susceptible to reckless eating.
Look below for a list of healthy, portion-controlled snacks to incorporate into your diet.
Step No. 4: Don't stock bad food.
Most cases of closet eating are said to occur in the comfort of your own home. Be proactive by not stocking your favorite indulgences in the kitchen.
When you have the urge to sneak a few bites of ice cream before bed, you'll be unable to do so if there isn't any ice cream to be found. Be careful not to fall into the trap of "buying it for the kids," as this is a slippery slope.
No one in the family benefits from having junk food stocked in the house. Get it out.
Step No. 5: Exercise regularly.
How can exercising regularly help you overcome closet eating? It's simple. When you are actively working towards a goal, and are supported, you'll be less likely to self-sabotage.
Follow these five steps, and you'll curb closet eating once and for all. Don't let this destructive practice sabotage your best efforts to look and feel your very best.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Go to www.hometeamfitness.net for more information.