The Food Stash Is Mine, All Mine

Woman looking at candy

I am a pretty generous person in most areas of my life. Well, I am now. However, there was a time when I was generous with most things except for food.

As a size 28, morbidly obese wife and mother to three small children, I had many roles. I was a chauffeur to my kids, a “vet” to our dog, a stand-in doctor for my kids little boo-boos, and guardian of all food.

I was responsible for the grocery shopping, I alone planned and prepared all the meals we ate at home, picked out the restaurants we ate at, and decided what food did or did not make it in the house.

I suppose that role of “food keeper” is pretty typical for moms these days.

What made my “food keeper” role less typical was my protective attitude toward the food in the house.

My grocery store trips included time spent selecting the necessary ingredients for the breakfast, lunches, and dinners I had planned. But, while I was strolling up and down the grocery store aisles, I would also be shopping for some special foods for my enjoyment only.

Of course ,these special foods were not grapes, salad, carrots, or other healthy food, but instead those special foods were chocolate covered peanuts, flavored chips, chewy cookies, and any other package of junk food that struck my fancy.

If I had some of the children with me when I was shopping, they would ask if they were going to get some of my special food. I’ d say, “Yes, honey, you can have a few pieces of candy when we get home.” However, I knew that as soon as I got home that candy would disappear into the high reaches of the pantry where my little daughter would forget about it. You see, I did not want her  (or any of the other members of my family) to find my candy/junk food stash and make me share it.

After I had hidden the food on a high pantry shelf or in the back of my own closet, I would frequently visit my stash throughout the following days. I remember the feeling of reaching my hand up into the closet, feeling under winter sweaters for the ever shrinking bag of M&M’s. If someone walked in while I was stuffing my face with candy, I’d turn away from them and pretend like I was just walking through the room instead of standing in front of the closet or pantry eating.

Occasionally John would find my stash while looking for something and would ask where the food came from. I’d take a step back and try to appear casual as I lied. I would tell him something like, “Oh, I bought that bag months ago for the birthday party. Good you found it so it doesn’t go bad.” He would just nod briefly and walk away. He told me later that he knew I was lying but did not want me to feel bad, so he did not confront me.

As for me, I would think about that candy he had discovered and worry that he would get that bag and eat some of my candy. Sad, isn’t it?

Even more sad, perhaps, was the fact that I even watched the food at dinner time. I always hoped that there would be enough for me to have seconds or thirds after everyone went to bed, and was a little disappointed if there were no leftovers.

When I finally got to the point where I was tired of living like that, I made a 180 degree turn.

I stopped buying junk food for me or anyone else at the grocery store.

All food in the house was in the pantry, freely seen, and freely accessed by everyone.

At dinner, I stopped worrying about what I would eat after dinner and instead stayed in the moment and enjoyed the meal.

If you are reading this and have experienced these types of feelings or done some of these things, know that you are not alone. Countless men and women have told me their own stories of similar feelings and behavior. When someone asks me what to do about feeling possessive of food or hiding food, I tell them that although it is hard, it is possible to change and eliminate this habit.

I changed this bad habit by finally putting food in its proper place in my life. Food wasn’t for soothing feelings, relieving stress, or as a companion when I was bored. Instead I tried to look at food as a joyous part of a full life. This took a lot of effort and diligence and did not come overnight.

As I changed my attitude toward food I saw many positive changes in my life, and you will too.

Have you ever felt possessive about food or been tempted to eat in secret? Diane 

<p>Image courtesy of Ambro <a href=”http://www.freedigitalphotos.net” target=”_blank”>FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

45 thoughts on “The Food Stash Is Mine, All Mine

  1. HappinessSavouredHot says:

    Apparently, one sign you have a problem with alcohol is when you hide your consumption from others. Guess it applies to food too.

    It’s not just obese people that are affected. It’s happened to me.

    Anyone ever hid chocolate bar wrappers so that no one would see how much you actually ate?

    Guilty.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I think it does apply to food as well. I’m not sure if it would be classified as an addition, but I suspect it might be.

      I’m guilty of the hiding chocolate bar wrappers in the past as well. Totally guilty.

  2. blackhuff says:

    Now that I have learned that food should be something to nourish me instead of being a comfort, I see food in a positive light. It’s so refreshing and not a burden anymore. Life is simpler since I learned this.

  3. Mary Ellen Quigley says:

    I was definitely guilty of hiding food. I had a shoe box stuffed in my closet that was full of candy and cookies. It’s sad when you are hanging out in your closet eating junk food. I remember when my Mom found it one day. I was horrified and tried to play it off. She didn’t push, but I knew she was completely aware of what I was doing. Hiding that box was such a huge part of my life. I’m so glad it no longer is.

  4. Laura says:

    I did this as well – all the time – worse than you described. I had food in my purse, in my drawers, in the glove comparment of the car, etc. It was almost as though I needed it to make me feel better.

    I am glad I have made steps to stop this behavior because I know it was doing nothing to help me lose weight. So few people talk about this – kudos to you.

  5. Mark says:

    One interesting thing is that putting the food out in the open, for public viewing, maybe helps you (and me) be honest about what we are doing and eating and consuming.

    I think that you touch on something deeper here – there are food behaviors that are unhealthy but they can be overcome. That gives a lot of folks hope.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Those behaviors absolutely can be overcome and putting it out in the open is a great way to start.

      I hope it does give people who struggle with these kinds of behaviors hope. Another thing to consider is that there are many times where a good therapist can help someone overcome these kinds of behaviors and get to the root of the issue.

  6. Sarah Kewer says:

    I did hide food on occasion, especially if it was something I loved and didn’t want anyone else to have.

    I remember being so embarrassed when my mother-in-law came upon my stash of hershey’s miniatures stuck in the flour container. She said, “Sarah, what are these doing in the flour?” I almost died.

    I have made great strides in not doing this anymore and just being honest with me and others about my choices.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      That must have been a tad bit embarrassing to have your mother-in-law find that! I’m glad you have made progress and are feeling positive about your weight loss efforts now.

  7. SusanM says:

    Isn’t it funny how this seems crazy to you now? At the time I wonder if it seemed normal?

    I’m not too bad about hiding food – I tend to just eat it and let people think what they will. Now I just need to quit eating so much! I’m working on it though and have lost about 11 pounds. Just 100 more to go.

  8. Mary W says:

    My husband does this all the time and thinks I do not know. I am working on losing the last 10 pounds, which is so hard, but he has about 50 or 60 to lose.

    I find his food wrappers in the craziest places. I don’t usually say anything to him but I wonder if I should?

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I don’t know whether you should say anything to him or not. When my husband did ask about the food wrappers he would find, I shut down that conversation pretty quickly. After a few times, he quit asking. I’m sure it can be frustrating to you to see him doing that and not be able to do anything about it.

  9. Kaye says:

    Did your husband ever say anything to you later?

    I sometimes stick candy in a drawer if I don’t want my husband to see it or eat it. I know he’s come across it but he hasn’t asked about it. Of course he probably knows I’d get defenseive if he did. 🙂

    This is something I need to work on from so many levels. I don’t know where the possessiveness with food comes from because I always had plenty growing up and have plenty now. Well, more than plenty if you want to know the truth.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      He did say something after I had lost all the weight. He said he wondered why I felt the need to hide the food in the first place. Personally, I suppose it goes back to earlier years for me.

      I have learned that it is not about having plenty (for most of us), but rather there is something else going on. Fear of judgement, control issues, embarrassment at eating those kinds of foods, etc. all often play a role in this.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I used to be bad about this. Honestly, I thought I was the only one who did this but I see that I am really not that unusual.

    I broke this habit by stopping myself from buying the junk in the first place. If I did “fall off the wagon” and buy junk, I made myself confess to my husband and either threw the stuff away or just put it on the pantry shelf for the whole family to have.

    I had lots of bad habits and applaud you for talking about this one so openly. It helps to know that I wasn’t weird and that you can still have excellent success even if you used to do crazy things like this.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      It sounds like you were very deliberate in breaking the habit. I think your strategy of telling your husband and bringing all the purchases into the open. I know that had to help you. He must be non-judgemental for you to trust him like that.

  11. Marc says:

    Your behavior kind of reminded me of my mother. Except she would buy several bags of chocolate stars and chocolate clusters (I think that is what they were called) open two or three and hide the rest for herself. Once she took me in the car with her when I was about 12. We drove an hour away from home to a restaurant with car hops that brought the food to your car. She ordered a big chicken dinner with garlic toast with a large Coke and finished off with a banana split. I asked her why we drove so far to eat? She said because no one knew her. She was still obese but felt less judged by strangers than if she was enjoying the food and saw someone she knew.

  12. Kyra says:

    I struggled with food hoarding for a long time, but it was less about eating it and more about having it at all. I’d rather have an unopened bag of something in my pantry and know it’s there, than eat it. For me, this was because I grew up in a really messed up household where food was concerned (bulimic-anorexic mother who did weird food things, like the day after halloween when I was young and she went into my room while I was at school and ate every single piece of candy I had worked so hard to trickortreat for and then grounding me when I came home and cried over it, etc.) In order to have anything in my house, I had to find a way to hide it. Not even just the junk, some basic things too.

    Once I was married, I engaged in that behavior until my husband confronted me and said “You never have to hide anything from me. If we ran out and you asked, I would get you more.” From that day forward I’ve worked hard to NOT hide and hoard food. But I still like to know that package is there, even if I never eat it. (And for the record, the entire family has to hide food from my mother when she visits.) I’m the type of person who could buy all manor of junk just so I could look at it, and never eat any of it (as long as the package stayed closed.)

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      What a great husband you have! I’m sorry you had those experiences growing up – I can only imagine how difficult that must have been. How interesting that your mom still reacts like that around food and your whole family understands her behavior.

      My husband is the same way as you are with the closed package. If there is a bag of candy at his office that is not opened, he won’t open it. Now if someone else opens it, then it becomes fair game. (He’s working on not eating it, but it is hard for him.)

  13. Linda says:

    Diane,
    I hide food all of the time. My dad who was alcoholic did that with alcohol and my mom did it with food also (she was also overweight like me). Since my son is diabetic, I hid all the junk from him and ate it in private. It is amazing how common this is. Thank you for opening up a discussion about this important topic!

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      It is very common and I don’t think we talk about these kinds of behaviors enough. When I started sharing how I used to hide food with women in my weight loss class, a lot of them were quick to identify with the behavior. Over the years I’ve heard people who do the same thing more times than I can count.

  14. Z @ kickingkilos says:

    I still soothe my self via food(bad ones, and not green ones, just to be clear lol)
    It is bad! I wish I can control it. I used to hide stuff too. Infact even few months ago I ‘hid’ a packet of chips and the wrapper so no one finds out!

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      You are not alone – believe me. You can control it but it does take a lot of practice. Becoming aware of it is the first step and then outlining how you think you might conquer it is a good next step.

  15. Siobhan says:

    I was a secret eater … partly because I didn’t want to share and partly because I didn’t want anybody to judge me. Now that my cravings are under control, I no longer feel I have to “control” my food by either hiding it or eating it in secret. It’s a joy to not have that burden.

  16. Carrie says:

    I’m STILL possessive about my food, but now I’m possessive about my healthy food. I try to keep a ‘shelf” of my own in the fridge, but my family moves things around. Now, we have one rule: Everything is up for grabs, just ask before you eat the last one. 🙂

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      That’s a totally good reason to be possessive! My family seems to have an aversion to eating the last one of anything. I’m always finding a single baby carrot in a bag, a last bit of raisins, or a tiny line of my homemade granola in the container. No one wants to be responsible for finishing it off!

  17. Betty Taylor says:

    I have never really hid foods, but occasionally I hope that no one wants the leftover desserts. I am not eating them anymore so it won’t be a problem anymore.

  18. Megan says:

    When I was at uni, I used to be really bad and hoard chocolates and boxes of shapes etc in my wardrobe. I would eat them while I studied and everyone else was asleep. My mother was healthy and never would have bought the foods and would have wondered why we had some in the house and I was worried my brother would eat it all. When he found out that I had stash and would come in and try and find it, I realised I needed to work on my problem. One of the tricks I used to get out of it, was if I had to share every detail of my life to someone- would I be proud or ashamed? That would usually stop me from doing anything I would later regret. It’s something I use regularly to keep me in check.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Thanks for sharing that Megan. You never know how many people will read it and take encouragement from it. I always worried that someone would find my food and eat it! Putting it all out in the open was really important for me as well.

  19. L says:

    I soooo identify with this post, Diane. Been there, done that, hated myself for doing it, and finally quit the behavior that had kept me stuck for years. I still struggle with staying in the moment at supper time some days, but I no longer hide food to eat when alone. If I catch myself feeling tempted to do it, I name the behavior for what it is and purposely bring my dark side, and the food, into the light for everyone to see. Accountability keeps me sane.

    What I appreciate most about your posts–this one in particular–is that it gives others insight into the sometimes schizophrenic-like mind of the compulsive overeater. Normal overeaters don’t always understand what it feels like to be driven to do these sad things, but I do. I’m so glad that we have done those things necessary to move past the food to a fuller life. Thanks, again, for a well written and helpful posting.

  20. Taryl says:

    As a teen as used to hide my food consumption of things like junk when I knew I’d eaten more than a normal serving. It was rare, thankfully. As an adult I can’t say I’ve hidden food in the house at all, though I’ve covered the occasional wrapper or two. For me, it was not revealing how much I ordered at a restaurant or ate in the car. Again, no normal habit of mine, but when I knew it was getting to ‘abnormal’ amounts I’d just not say anything and try to toss the garbage in secret. Oy.

    I do hide my dark chocolate from my kids, but only because it is extremely expensive and they’re happy with their own treats (raisins, peanuts, etc) if they don’t know about mine. I try not to eat it in front of them to tempt them, but I’m eating about 6-10 grams at a time (a square or so, basically) and thus it isn’t a quantity or shame issue, but mitigating the whining 😉

  21. Brian says:

    Hey Diane, I noticed you said that after the shift in thinking you focused on enjoying the meal (dinner). Do you feel that this helped you with your success long term? I feel that too many people transform too radically like their enjoyment of ANY food has made them heavy. They become uber-restrictive. Those types of people always seem destined to fail.

  22. Roz@weightingfor50 says:

    I’ve hidden food and binged in private in the past. I still have a long way to go in my fitness journey, but it feels good to be in control of that and just eat my meals and snacks….and “own it”.

  23. christophe says:

    I’ve hidden food before but also found myself trying to have snacks and junk food with other people – as if that would justify it and make me convinced that perhaps they ate more of it than I did..

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