I don’t know when it started exactly, but I can remember hiding my desire for food as early as three or four years old. I have a strong memory of cautiously reaching for the sugar bowl when my mother left the kitchen to add heaping teaspoons of sugar to my bowl of cold cereal. My thoughts were, “Hurry, hurry, but don’t spill and make a mess.” The feelings were a mixture of fear and excitement, an anticipation anxiety I would learn to associate with eating alone, and a behavior that became a distorted way of getting my needs met.
Over the years, the habit of eating forbidden foods in secrecy became more and more engrained. Every time I unconsciously ate in solitude and hid the evidence, I built layers of shame over one of my basic human needs: eating for enjoyment. I learned to resent eating for nutrition and craved moments alone when I could eat whatever I wanted in the privacy of my own mind where I was safe and alone.
What started out as a solution, became a problem over time. Secrecy with food led to a pattern that Dr. Michelle May refers to as the eat-repent-repeat cycle. The more I ate in shame and hiding, the stronger the pull for restricting to compensate. My weight followed each change in my mindset and I became a chronic yo-yo dieter—unhappy when I ate, and unhappy when I restricted. I found my way out when I stopped dieting and learned to enjoy and trust myself with food again. Today, eating mindfully helps me know when to eat, what to eat, how and how much to eat without bingeing, restriction, shame, or secrecy. Best of all—I have the energy to do what’s most important to me—living a full life!
The work we do together in the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Binge Eating Program helps you uncover and heal your stories of secrecy and shame with food, eating and your body in a supportive group setting or individually. (Click here to find a licensed Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Binge Eating Therapists, Program, or Retreat.)