You might know that I had a LONG struggle with binge and emotional eating that consumed my life. We’re talking about 12+ years of the diet-binge-repeat roller coaster (honestly felt like forever).
Throughout that struggle, I did some compulsive, sneaking, and out-of-character things to keep my binge eating underwraps.
Some I’m not proud of, but all I have a lot of compassion for!
Why? Simple. I was ashamed of my binge eating. So I did everything I could to hide it.
Today I’m sharing all the things I used to do to avoid getting caught binging.
Then, I’ll share how I shifted out of those behaviors, dropped my shame, and stopped binging for good.
OK, let’s DO this…
Back when I was at the height of my food and body struggle, I acted like the last person you’d suspect was struggling with binge eating.
Although I had large weight fluctuations, the way I represented myself was the epitome of health and fitness.
I worked in a gym, and I was a health coach at the time. My identity was built around this. But all the while I was terrified.
“What would people think if they found out that I had a secret binge eating problem?“
“What if I was exposed as a fraud in front of clients”
Still, no matter how afraid I was of getting found out, the urge to binge felt impossible to resist.
I felt like I had to satisfy that urge, no matter what the risk to my reputation…or my relationships.
Well well well the end result?
I harbored a ton of shame and secrecy. I was mortified about what I was doing, but couldn’t make myself stop. So I hid it all from everyone.
The more I hid my binging in shame, the worse it ALL got.
So how did I hide my binging from the world, and why am I sharing all this now? For two reasons.
First, I want you to know that if you do any of these things too, you’re NOT alone.
Second, I want to show you how to shift out of this shame and secrecy, and reclaim your power the way I did!
Let’s dive into some of the things I did to make sure the world never found out my big binging secret…
1- Eating in secrecy (and hiding the “evidence”). When I did binge, it was behind closed doors. Then I’d hide the evidence at the scene of the “crime.”
For example, I’d sneak into the pantry and eat a box of cereal bars. But I’d never just throw the wrappers in the trash. I’d wrap them in paper towels and frantically shove them to the bottom of the trash can.
I’d also hide food wrappers in the couch cushions. Or in my car. Anywhere that I could stash them without getting caught if someone walked in on me in the act.
The wildest part was that while it was happening, it felt totally normal in the sense of – it just felt like “this is what I do”.
After all, I was caught up in the haze of the binge, in an auto-pilot kind of way. Stuffing wrappers anywhere I could hide them didn’t seem strange at all…
Then, the haze would wear off and I’d realize what had happened.
The wrappers were everywhere. The fast-food bags were shoved under the seat in my car. All the evidence was right in front of me.
Needless to say, it was mortifying — and all I could do was hope that I never got busted and hope I could change one day.
2- Plotting and planning NOT to binge (and then binging anyway). Every time I was invited to a party, dinner out, or a get-together, I’d make a plan. By that I don’t mean a plan to have fun at the party. I made a plan to avoid what might trigger me to eat.
This plan usually had a crazy twist, too. It was my intention to leave the party early–and go binge anyway.
Instead of eating the appetizers or desserts on offer at the party, I’d say “no, thank you” in front of everyone.
I’d look like the paragon of health and fitness for turning down the food I labeled as “bad”. So far so good, right?
Well, it never lasted. I’d start obsessing about getting food, and sometimes I’d leave early to do so!
Sometimes it’d be drive through(s), sometimes snacks at home…
Oftentimes, I’d spend the rest of my evening indulging in a post-party binge…alone.
3- Compromising relationships just to get food. Sometimes I’d resort to seriously out-of-character actions to satisfy those binge urges.
For instance, there were many occasions I’d sneak into the cabinets and take a roommate’s food. Sure, I’d replace what I took, but I wouldn’t tell them.
Now, I’m sure by now that all my former roommates knew what I was doing (or at least suspected). Honestly, I don’t know who I thought I was fooling.
But that compulsion to eat was fierce, and it frequently made me take what wasn’t mine–and then hide that I did.
Then there were those times when I’d have a friend or family member over for dinner. I’d be cooking the healthy meal while they were with me in the kitchen.
But the moment my guest stepped away and the coast was clear, I’d eat what I could before they came back as fast as I could.
4- Hiding my binging from coaches and coworkers. As I mentioned before, I was once a health coach for a big coaching company. But as irony would have it, during that job tenure I was still struggling off and on with binge eating.
It got to the point where it brought on intense thyroid and adrenal issues. So I enlisted the help of another health coach to help me both resolve those issues and lose the extra weight I’d gained.
At the time I had just stopped taking my thyroid medicine. I came off of it pretty fast (I DON’T recommend doing this), which definitely contributed to my weight gain.
But there was another factor that I didn’t share with my health coach: I was still binge eating.
I didn’t tell my coach that I was binging in secret. I blamed my weight gain and health problems on quitting the thyroid meds too fast.
My coach didn’t have all the facts, and he thought our lack of success was on him.
I honestly was embarrassed. I didn’t want to lose my job for being a fraud of a health coach. So I kept it to myself and tried so hard to stop binge eating in hopes that my body would eventually balance out.
Eventually things go so bad that I felt so out of integrity working as a coach and personal trainer. I resigned from the health and fitness industry all together for a few years so I could focus on my healing.
The space was needed, and the healing eventually happened. It wasn’t a linear journey at all (more on that in many other blog posts) but it was all worth it because it lead me here to serve so many women through our programs!
I wanted to share all this with you for one main reason. You are NOT alone. So many of us who’ve ever struggled with binging have done all of these things and more.
I also wanted to be sure you know that no matter how extreme your binge-hiding behaviors might feel – you are NOT broken.
There is nothing wrong with you, you’re not beyond help, and it’s not your fault.
Here’s the truth. Over time, binging can hijack your brain. It activates a primal, irrational part of your brain that triggers impulsive behaviors.
Binging actually activates the part of your brain that has nothing to do with the real you. In the end, it triggers out-of-character behaviors to satisfy what feels like insatiable urges.
But here’s the good news…
No matter how long you’ve struggled with binging, you can break free. It also doesn’t matter what extreme lengths you’ve gone to hide your binging. You can heal it.
You can break free.
And regarding the sneaky behaviors we’ve been talking about, here’s a BIG takeaway for you…
Shame and secrecy are the fuel to the fire of binge eating. Letting go of both these things is a huge step toward freedom.
Now, what can you do right away to start breaking the shame and secrecy cycle for good?
It could actually be something as simple as enjoying food you normally wouldn’t let yourself have with a friend.
I’m not saying to binge in front of someone else just for the sake of being “open” about it! But what I am saying is to step just a little bit out of your comfort zone with food. Let yourself enjoy a small treat in someone else’s company, and let go of the fear around it.
This small step will help you let go of that shame around food just a little bit at a time.
The key is to shift your behavior from the inside out. It’s about getting to a point where you never have to struggle with food shame again.
This is where we can help!
At the link below, I’ve got a special gift for you. We call them, Craving Cards, and they’re one of our most popular tools.
If you ever feel those compulsive urges to eat, these cards will make a huge difference in your life!
Click below and you’ll receive these printable cards. You’ll also get a set of instructional demo videos on how to use them.
With our Craving Cards, you’ll learn how to stop cravings in their tracks, and get back your power. No more secret binges, no more food shame. How does that sound?
Now, I want to hear from you!
Can you relate to any of the behaviors above? I would love to hear about your experiences. Remember, a big part of letting go of shame is sharing, so if you feel called to, share your experiences below!