One of the main contributors to me horsing on more than 9 stone in excess weight was my penchant for eating in secret, when no one could see me. This unhealthy behaviour escalated over the years and I tried numerous times to stop, lasting for a few weeks or months sometime (like when I was marathon training) only to dive back in to the comfort of eating practically non-stop. I knew I needed to take control of myself and break the vicious cycle to lose the weight and for my long-term health. It was a vague notion for a long time, an idea, an aspiration knocking around in my head and usually when I was tucking into a burger and chips say, pondering how I could make it happen but not have to give up all my food treats either, LOL!
Weeks and months turned into years of sitting on my couch at night, comfortably nuzzled in to the well-worn groove my ample bum had made, munching away on my favourite high fat and sugary foods and totally resisting the acute fact that to lose the weight I needed to stop eating crap! I knew that I would have to give up binge eating to have any prayer of success but for a long time I did not want to. I really did not want to, dug my heels in and was pure stubborn over it. Food had become such a comfort to me but I needed to acknowledge that I had allowed this destructive behaviour to get way out of control. It saddens me to remember but hiding myself away to eat on my own in secret became a daily habit and so much so that I isolated myself from people so I could be on my own. So I could be on my own to eat. It had gotten to the stage that I’d get contrary in myself if someone called to the house to see me because it was disturbing me from my secret pastime, eating! Shamefully, I remember a couple of times where I’d bump in to someone I’d know down town and after a few minutes I’d be twitching and whispering silently in my head “Oh please let me go! I have to go eat!!”
Binge eating became such a compulsion, such a toxic and life-sapping dangerous obsession. I used to eat in secret in my car. Some mornings when my children were in school I’d drive straight to a local favourite coffee house and order take out which consisted always of a large hot chocolate with cream, a toasted panini and a huge muffin. I’d take it back to the car and consume way over my daily calorie allowance in one sitting while watching people walk by and feeling scared to my bones at what I was doing to myself and not knowing how to stop. I was completely and totally addicted to food and I was always twitching for my next fix. If I was at a loose end at the weekend when my children were on a sleep-over with family I many times ended up sitting in my car at night time, eating hot chips and a burger, feeling crushingly lonely and useless, knowing something was very wrong yet not reaching out to my family and friends either because I didn’t want to be worrying them or tormenting them with my worries and near constant feeling of numbness.
I can’t remember exactly when I started to eat in secret but the signs were beginning to appear over the years, before I ever had a weight problem. I remember when living in France when I was a student and waking up one morning with my right hand welded to the bed in the middle of a bar of chocolate that had melted AND reset! Other mornings I could awaken with my hand wedged in a tube of Pringles. Eating while sleepwalking hadn’t taken hold fully at this stage but on occasion over the last ten years there were mornings I’d wake up and see evidence of food that had been eaten in the middle of the night but would either have no recollection of the episode or would recall that I’d have woken up at 4 am in a blind panic with an unmerciful urge to eat. Hiding my secret eating from house-mates became very important. If I ate an entire packet of biscuits during the day, I would then rush to replace the empty packet with the exact same full packet so my house mate would be none the wiser when they returned home. Any packets or wrappers from food that I had gorged on during the day would always be hidden in a bag and stuffed down in to the bin outside. One time I was caught scaling the cupboards, searching for a rogue bar of chocolate that I was convinced was up there. Remember that part in the movie Kung Fu Panda where Po is struggling with his Kung Fu training as he is so massive and unfit yet his Master discovers Po having scaled the kitchen cupboards in the blink of an eye to reach a pot of cookies that he knew were hidden up there? Well that was me, standing on my kitchen counter scouring for chocolate, while eating a sandwich, when my house mate sauntered in and stopped dead in their tracks. I didn’t contemplate at the time that my behaviour may have been bizarre but the perplexed look on my friend’s face, bordering on pity really, told me otherwise.
Over time the secret eating escalated, peaking earlier this year in May when I paused long enough to realise that I would be over 20 stone by this Christmas if I didn’t stop suffocating my feelings with food and take control of my eating habits. Even though I was becoming conscious at how dangerously unhealthy my lifestyle had become – I was a stroke or heart attack waiting to happen – I was acutely distressed at the thoughts of letting go of what had become such a comfort, safety and protection for me. It became very clear to me all the same that I needed to release my death-grip on secret eating to have any chance of starting to feel my feelings again and actively live my life. It was up to me and me alone to be responsible for myself and to take action. No one was going to save me but me. I started writing down what I wanted for myself in my life, set some goals and what actions I would need to take to make them a reality. I owned up to my responsibilities to and for myself but also promised to gift to myself more compassion and positive encouragement. It has felt awkward at times learning to love myself again just as I am but the acceptance of who I am right now clears the way for me to allow myself to make the improvements I need and want to make to become the best version of me I can be. Secret eating and binge eating seem like a taboo subject but so many people live like this, they may not tell anyone and need help to lead themselves back to a more healthy way to eat and live. I was trying to decide was I going to feel embarrassed by confessing to my secret eating behaviour. While in the throes of binge eating in secret I think, yes, I would have been mortified to discuss it or even admit to it as I felt such shame and self-loathing at the time for myself and for what I had allowed myself to become. Once I pulled myself together back in May this year and actually got into the driving seat of my own life, I have successfully lost nearly 5 stone and am actively living my precious life. So no, I am not now embarrassed to admit to my former destructive behaviour as I have learned from it and am now living a more positive and fulfilling life for myself. Part of my own recovery involved visiting my GP and discussing how I was feeling and asking for help. I underwent medical tests for blood pressure, cholesterol etc. and was referred for counselling which I still today actively engage in.
I just want to show anyone else who is an active secret eater like I was and may be following my weight loss journey here every week, that there IS hope, that you CAN learn to live the vibrant life you are aching for. It all starts with YOU. Make the decision to gift to yourself the best version of yourself for you. Be brave and ask for help. Take it one day at a time, one step at a time, and you will make it.
My Weight Loss Update
Wholesale dangerous is the best way to describe my weekend so I have gained 3lbs. I attended my brother Bryan’s play on Friday night with my family and we had a celebration party afterwards. I was complacent and munched away on sandwiches and fried chicken. My Mam stayed up for the weekend and we went Christmas shopping and I was well down off the horse, eating my way through Saturday and Sunday. And it wasn’t all that enjoyable either, the eating I mean, I could have stopped but didn’t. I realised that it’s way more gratifying to eat healthily and make wiser choices and be full of energy and watch the weight fall off than eating willy nilly. It’s amazing how when you let your simple daily disciplines slip, how slippery that slope is when you start sliding. Anyhoo, I’m back with a bang this week with a run completed this morning and a workout from Hannah’s Total Body Tone DVD. Weight loss to date is 55.5lbs, with 77.5lbs to go. Onwards now for better week ahead and major pulling up of socks!
Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs
I was asked during the week what I eat for breakfast and this scrambled egg with smoked salmon is one of my favourites. I’ve developed a grá for potato waffles so I try and ensure I serve them up with real unprocessed food. This breakfast is 327 calories, very filling, healthy and delicious. Enjoy!
- 1 potato waffle
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 30g smoked salmon, sliced into long strips
- Fry Light Olive Oil Spray
- half tsp Good 4 U Super Seed Sprinkles
- 3 cherry tomatoes
- 3 cucumber slices
- 1 tsp tarragon salad dressing
- Place the waffle under a medium grill to cook. Using Fry Light cook the smoked salmon strips in a pan for about 1 minute on a low heat. Add a little freshly ground pepper to the beaten eggs and add to the pan with the smoked salmon.
- Let the eggs cook for about 20 seconds or so until they start to become firmer on the bottom and then you can start stirring until the eggs are just about cooked. Turn off the heat and the eggs will finish cooking on the hot pan.
- Plate up your potato waffle, topping with the smoked salmon scrambled egg, sprinkle with the seeds and serve with the tomatoes, cucumber and tarragon dressing.
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