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7 Secret Eating Habits that May Be Signs of an Eating Disorder

secret eatingIf you engage in secret eating, you hide your food consumption from others.

How you might accomplish secret eating is only limited by your imagination and willingness to deceive others who may object.

A British poll of women revealed startling secret eating statistics among respondents.

  • 60% of women admitted to eating ‘guilt foods’ in secret
  • 23% admitted to burying food wrappers in the trash can so others wouldn’t see
  • One is six women hide pleasure food around the house

We should assume men have similar issues, even though no men were polled in this case.

Secret eating is born of shame, but is not shameful in and of itself. If you’re a secret eater, you may need help, however, you are not a bad person.

Read: How to Overcome a Deep Sense of Shame: The Essential FAQ and To-Do List at iNLP Center.

Here are seven signs of secret eating that may suggest and eating disorder:

1. You keep a secret stash of food.

You dip into a secret food stash when others aren’t around to bother you about it. This is different than reserving food in the house and ‘yours’. Secret eating is all about keeping your food habits in the dark. Your secret stash of food is not merely reserved for you. Others don’t know it exists and might be concerned if they did know.

2. You eat food that has been thrown away.

You may be taking out the trash and find some leftovers in it. On the way to the outside trash can, you dip into the leftovers. This is a commonly reported behavior among those who are dealing with secret eating.

3. You secretly eat others’ food when they aren’t around.

Stealing a co-workers dessert from the break room. Eating your kids’ snacks while they’re at school. Dipping into your roommate’s groceries when he’s not around. And so on.

4. You take food off abandoned plates at food courts.

You’re walking through the food court at the mall. You spot a half-sandwich that someone didn’t throw out when they left. And there you go.

5. You sneak food into the bathroom.

Some secret eating habits involve swinging by the pantry on the way to the bathroom. You grab a snack that you don’t want anyone to know you’re eating. On the toilet, you eat, whether or not you’re using the toilet for traditional purposes.

6. You make secret eating pit stops while running errands.

Very commonly, secret eaters pay cash for fast food or donuts or candy bars while out running errands. If you do this, you probably make sure to hide the evidence by removing the food wrappers from your car before anyone else rides in it.

7. You secretly eat while doing the dishes after dinner.

Dinner is done. The family is onto other activities and you’re doing the dishes. You may eat leftovers off plates as you clean them. You may take second, third or fourth helpings as you prepare the leftovers from storage in the fridge.

Is secret eating an eating disorder?

If you wonder whether or not you have an eating disorder such as binge eating disorder, you should consult your mental health professional and/or do some more research.

Secret eating may well be related to something like binge eating. If you feel a need to hide binge eating, then eating in secret may be the method you use.

Whether you have a diagnosable eating disorder or not, secret eating may indicate an inappropriate attachment to food. It may also be a way to stay attached to guilt and shame.

7 Secret Eating Habits that May Be Signs of an Eating Disorder

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2016). 7 Secret Eating Habits that May Be Signs of an Eating Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 28 Nov 2016
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