Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ah Ha Moment #1: Closet Eating Is Really Bad

How did I gain all this weight? The obvious answer is I was a Freestyle eater who ate with reckless abandon. As I peel the onion back a little I come to the realization that "closet eating" was the primary cause of my weight gain.

Closet Eating is not officially classified as an eating disorder. It's the practice of eating excess amounts of food in secret. I guess it could be a subclass of binge eating which is an official disorder but it's really in a class by itself.

If you think about it there are some deep mental processes going on when your closet eating. Usually you're eating something that's very high calorie, that you really enjoy and that you don't want others to know you are eating. It's the ultimate comfort food oasis.

For example... (my wife reads my blog so.. sorry for the suprise you are about to read sweetie!)

Before the holiday's I had a business meeting about 30 miles away. I left the house in the morning after eating a buttered bagel and glass of OJ. It was an 11am meeting and the company I met with had lunch brought in.

For lunch I had a turkey sandwich, lettuce and tomato with a little mayo and a diet coke. Then grabbed a bag of chips and a couple of cookies. Shouldn't have had the snacks but so far not a bad eating day.

The meeting is over at 2pm so I hop in the car for the 30 mile ride home not even thinking about food or dinner. I have a few calls to make while I'm driving (don't worry I use a blue tooth headset) and I'm focusing on that. When I'm through with my calls I start thinking about what I have to do when I get back to my office (I work at home). Just then I spot a "food & fuel" sign on the side of the highway. You know, the sign that tells you which restaurants you can find at a particular exit. I notice the White Castle logo on the sign and the thought process starts.

This is me thinking now... "White Castle.. man, I'm friggin hungry. I didn't eat a lot today and I haven't had WC in a while. If I stop for some it won't be that bad. When I get home I can just say I had a big lunch and not eat too much dinner." I can taste the WC cheese burger as I'm thinking this.

So I take the exit... drive up to the White Castle and order 5 cheeseburgers (because they are small you always order 5 or so), regular fries and a medium HC-Orange drink. Wow... I just noticed that I'm actually salivating as I describe the food, not good. I pay for the food, park and eat all of it, being very careful not to drip any ketchup or grease on my shirt (evidence). As I eat each cheeseburger I say to myself... "ok I have 4 left, ok I have 3 left....". Before I know it the food is gone. I throw the bag and wrappers in the trash can (getting rid of the evidence) and hit the road to drive home.

A few hours later my wife has a pasta dinner prepared. I sit down and have a large helping of pasta with meatballs and sausage. What happened to my plan of saying that I had a big lunch and wasn't hungry? It went out the window when I found out the dinner was pasta.

Now lets examine. My breakfast, lunch and regularly scheduled dinner were all pretty good. I probably could have had a smaller portion of pasta but even so I was probably at or below 2300 calories which would be fine for a day. What I didn't realize was the number of calories I was taking in when I hit the White Castle... 1,535 calories with 74 grams of fat and 82 grams of sugar. Wow.. that's nearly full day of calories for me now.

On top of this I would do my normal late night eating which probably added at least another 1000 calories. The the net of this all is My family only witnessed 2200 of the nearly 5000 calories I ate that day. Classic Closet Eater.

While this was not a typical day, it was days like these that contributed to me packing on the pounds and I had many days like these. The difference now is when I see the White Castle logo or any other fast food logos I will think about the amount of calories, fats and sugars I will be ingesting if I eat those foods.

Closet eating is my weakness and it was the main contributor to my weight gain. As hard as it will be for me I make a pledge to never closet eat again. I can't.



  1. I love this post. Very honest and very brave. I read every post you write - though I don't always comment - but this one spoke to me. You have closet eating, and mine is what I called Standing Over the Sink eating. Totally mindless.

    Anyway. Great post. Great work.

  2. I know what you mean. Closet eating should be its own category. I have to really think about not doing it and not stashing anything away in my best hiding places for when no one is around.

    You can do it! Remember: "Eat To Live" not live to eat!!!!

  3. Hey,
    Great post - I can really identify with this 'closet eating'. I do hide a lot of what I eat from my family and this is how I got where I am today (about 90lbs overweight).... It's a tough one to address but so necessary to live a healthy lifestyle. If I'm going to be successful on this journey, I'm gonna have to come out of the closet! Thanks for sharing this.
    And thanks for the follow!

  4. I think you nailed it this time. I used to have a rule that anything I ate in the car didn't really count... obviously, that rule didn't work out so well! Cleaning out the car one day, my girlfriend was surprised to find all of the Krystal corn dog sticks and Slim Jim wrappers that I would just throw into the back seat.

  5. Aww, yes the old drive-thru eat in the car and throw away the evidence. You hit this nail on the head! You owned it, great job!

  6. I like ah ha moments. I remember sitting in the parking lot of Taco Bell four blocks from my house. Eating my three soft tacos and a Burrito Supreme before I went home for dinner. Didn't want to look to hungry when I got home.

  7. and all this time I thought I was the only one... ;-)

  8. Oh you are soooo not the only one, lol. I never thought of putting the title "closet eater" on it, but I guess you're right. That's exactly what it is when you're eating alone in your car all the time, like I did for YEARS. Hard habit to break, but not impossible. The first week or two is tough, but once you slowly get out of the habit, you do reach a point where swinging through a drive-thru at every whim just isn't part of your daily routine anymore. Just keep at it and you'll be free before you know it. I'm extremely proud of you for owning up to this. It's what will set you free and allow you to realize your dreams. Good job my friend. :)

  9. thanks Tammy and thanks to everyone for the great comments!

  10. yep... the car is my food charriot. I can NOT be hungry in the car while driving around or else I will be in a parking lot somewhere scarfing food. Its a hard thing to resist!


  11. GREAT POST!!!!

    So that's what it's called.......... nice to be able to put a name to it.

    Good for you in making a pledge to stay away from it! Looking forward to reading more about your journey.

  12. I admire your honesty and as you can see by the posts, you are not alone. I was there as well. But now I make smarter choices and my Closet Eating consists of food that won't kill my diet. There are some yummy snacks out there and although they don't satisfy quite like a half dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, they'll take me where I want to go - all the way to THIN!

  13. You are most definitely not alone on this one! I also fell into the trap. If no one saw me eat it, it never happened.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles and know that we're in it with you :)

  14. wow.. i didn't realize this post would hit home so hard. it was good to get it off my chest. blogging is therapy.

  15. This was a great post. Learning what got us to this place is just as important in learning how to eat properly.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.


  16. DEFINITELY hit home, this for me is roommates have gone to bed or I am finally home alone and can do whatever the heck/eat whatever the heck I want eating. This has been very bad for me because as soon as I am by myself I think "yay free for all!" I am nervous about if I am going to be able to stop doing this when I return to school on monday...

  17. Wow. I have done this kind of thing SO MANY TIMES. I know exactly what you mean.

  18. Howdy! I was just perusing the blogosphere, and I'm loving catching up on your journey so far.

    This post really caught my attention. I have the same closet-eating demons as you, and it is proving to be the hardest thing to overcome, on my own journey.

    Best of luck to you.. and, I'll be back! :-)