It’s not unusual for us to feel pressured into healthy eating. As a result, we can begin to eat in secret, to prevent others from witnessing the “bad” food we’re consuming. Here, psychologist and eating specialist, Dr Alice Green, lifts the curtain on the secret habit.
It’s an addiction
Like any addiction you need to acknowledge that it’s an addictive behaviour in order to seek help. Although many secret eaters feel that they don’t have the strength to break out of the habit, with the right support and attitude anyone can overcome it.
Types of secret eating
It’s really helpful to recognise the reasons why you secret eat in order to stop the habit. Experts say there are two different types of secret eating:
- Reactive – this occurs in response to extreme emotions like anger, anxiety or stress.
- Habitual – whereby the secret eating has become deeply ingrained as a force of habit.
How to stop
- One proven strategy for tackling an episode involves imagining exactly how you’ll feel directly after you’ve eaten all the food – or even several hours later.
- Another remedy is to stop and take five minutes to write down or think about how you’re feeling, and explore the fears that lie beneath.
- If you need a break, try another way to make yourself feel better. Take a long walk, have a bubble bath, or distract yourself with meditation. By taking yourself away from a stressful environment, you can calm down and help avoid an unwanted reactive secret eating session.
It’s important that we don’t eat to feed our emotions, instead of our bodies. Remember, your secret eating habits may have developed over a long period of time, so you won’t change your habits overnight. If you’d like support addressing your eating habits, get in touch with one of our Counsellors today.