Do You Play Hide & Eat?

Have you ever played Hide & Eat?

It looks something like this:

As soon as her co-workers leave the room, Kim snatches a handful of leftover cookies and quickly throws them into her bag. She declined them during the meeting secretly hoping there’d be leftovers she could eat alone at home.

Once everyone is asleep, Janice sneaks into the kitchen, quietly opens the freezer door and grabs a pint of ice cream, which she hurriedly eats while standing in the dark.

When Jack goes to the restroom, Jim stuffs the last slice of pizza into his mouth before the waiter comes to clear the table and his friend returns.

Val keeps a stash of chocolate bars hidden in the back of her sock drawer. She eats them in bed while watching TV, then buries the wrappers in the trashcan so her roommates won’t see them.


Perhaps, like me, you can you relate to these secret-eating stories. During my dieting years, I mastered the game of Hide & Eat!

Why We Play Hide & Eat
There are many reasons why you might play Hide & Eat. Following are just a few. As you'll see, many of them are rooted in shame.

  • You’ve internalized diet-culture messaging that assigns moral value to food and judges people as good or bad based on their food choices (i.e., if you eat something "bad," you're bad).

  • You don’t want to tarnish your reputation as a “healthy person," "clean eater” or “dedicated dieter.”

  • You fear it's unacceptable to eat certain foods (or eat at all) because of the size of your body, what you've already eaten, or your lack of exercise.

  • You don’t want anyone to witness what you believe is a lack of willpower or self-control.

  • You’re afraid of the external food police making comments about your food choices, like “Do you really think you should be eating that?” or “I thought you gave up sugar!

  • You love the thrill of rebelling against a restrictive diet or watchful partner or parent, yet don't want to suffer the consequences of getting caught.

  • If no one sees you breaking your food rules or eating a forbidden food, it didn't happen or doesn't count. 

  • You’re experiencing an uncomfortable emotion, such as anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and long ago learned to hide your feelings, retreat from the world, and self-soothe with food.

Conditioned to Play
Although it can feel really shameful and embarrassing, your desire to play Hide & Eat is completely understandable.

Most likely, from a very young age, you've been conditioned (like most of us) by our insidious, pervasive diet culture to believe that much of your value and worth is determined by your size, shape and what’s on our plate.

This deeply ingrained, shame-triggering social construct can easily compel you to hide any behavior that could potentially be considered bad and ultimately jeopardize people's perception and acceptance of you.

The risk of being seen feels too great.

Not Your Fault
None of this is your fault. You’re simply trying to protect yourself from painful perceived threats, like judgment, criticism and rejection.

But, as you may know all too well, playing Hide & Eat is not a fun game. It’s a fear- and shame-driven activity that's exhausting, demoralizing and disempowering.

Plus, it’s hard to enjoy whatever it is you’re eating when you’re anxiously consuming it at a fast and furious pace while crouched in a dark corner trying not to make any noise.

The good news is you can come out of hiding whenever you’re ready. 

You Can Walk Away
Walking away from the game of Hide & Eat can take a lot of courage and self-compassion, especially if you’ve been playing it for a long time.

It’s best to take small steps, like experimenting with eating a forbidden food out in the open, perhaps with a supportive friend.

Seek Support
Untangling yourself from the grip of our toxic diet culture can be downright challenging.

I encourage you to seek support from a weight-neutral, non-diet practitioner who can help you let go of the beliefs and behaviors (and games) that are no longer serving you. You deserve it.

Do You Lick Your Peanut Butter Knife?

I remember years ago watching a weight-loss episode on a popular talk show. One of the calorie-cutting tips given was to never lick your peanut butter knife.

This made me sad. Very sad.

Who doesn’t love to lick their knife clean after making a PB&J sandwich, almond-butter toast, or bagel with cream cheese?

It’s fun! It’s yummy! It’s super satisfying!

Harmful, Not Helpful
Every day, we’re bombarded with messages like these that are often more harmful than helpful.

They cause us to be hyper-vigilant about our eating. They result in pointless food rules, restriction and rigidity. They lead to unnecessary fear, stress, shame and suffering.

If you bought into the “no knife-licking” rule, yet failed to follow it (which, if you’re like me, is highly likely!), your thoughts may sound something like this:

  • Licking this knife is a big no-no—you know that!

  • I am being bad, and naughty, and reckless.

  • I have no willpower or self-control. No wonder I look the way I do.

  • What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I follow one freaking simple rule?

  • Ugh, I really hope no one saw me do that.

  • I can’t be trusted with peanut butter; I’m going to stop buying it.

  • I feel guilty and need to make up for this food sin. No dessert for me tonight!

  • I really want to double-dip my knife back into the jar and lick it again.

  • Screw it. I’ve come this far, I might as well keep going back for more!

  • I shouldn’t do this, but licking the knife clean is so much easier than getting peanut butter off my dishcloth!

Does any of this sound familiar?

Challenge Your Food Rules
I spend a lot of time helping my clients identify and investigate their food rules

We deconstruct and challenge them, exploring questions, such as: Where did this rule come from? Is it true? Is it reasonable, sustainable and pleasurable? How do you feel and act when you break it? Is it helpful or harmful?

About 99.9 percent of the time, my clients determine their food rules are causing them far more harm than good.

They realize how their rules are creating an unhealthy relationship with food and negatively impacting their physical, mental, emotional and social health.

As my clients start to shed their food rules, a sense of freedom, empowerment, peace and ease surfaces.

Instead of listening to external sources, they begin trusting their intuition, body wisdom and direct experience to guide them.

And they start licking their peanut butter knife again.

Nina’s Intuitive Eating Experience [Workshop Discount Ends Jan. 3!]

I know how tempting it is in January to jump on the diet, detox or deprivation bandwagon. Instead, what if you resolved to make peace with food and your body this year?

How would it feel to liberate yourself from our oppressive, toxic diet culture—one that makes you feel ashamed of your weight and what you ate, causes physical and psychological damage, and distracts you from more meaningful, fulfilling life pursuits?

Intuitive Eating can help.

While you can read all about this proven approach here, it's helpful to hear what other people's experience with Intuitive Eating has been like.

Nina's Experience
Here’s what one of my clients, Nina, has to say:

“Renee’s Intuitive Eating Workshop has made a huge impact on my life. Prior to the workshop, I was stuck on a 3+ year diet-binge-diet cycle. I used food to cope with a stressful job and cross-country move and as a result gained weight.

I started bouncing from one fad diet to another and eventually became preoccupied with food. I also began binge eating whenever I “failed” at following a new diet precisely. It was a miserable experience. 

With the help of Renee’s workshop, I have slowly learned how to reject the diet mentality, allow my internal cues to guide my eating choices and better identify when I am using food to cope with uncomfortable emotions. As a result, my preoccupation with food and my binge eating have diminished significantly.

Moreover, I have been able to shift my focus from food and eating to other parts of my life such as my relationships, finding a new job and other life goals

I really think anyone living in today’s diet-obsessed world could benefit from taking such a workshop.”

Nina's experience demonstrates that, with patience, compassion, curiosity and support, it is possible to break free from diet culture.

Liberate Yourself
If you’re ready to finally make peace with food and your body, check out my private coaching program and upcoming workshop (early bird discount ends January 3!).