Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Mr comes clean

For about a month, the Mr and I have been confronting an issue.  Matter of fact, I believe it's basically been a month this week that we changed up our routine but I will discuss what that is tomorrow.  First, you needed to know why a change was necessary so the Mr has agreed to tell his story so that maybe someone out there will benefit.  Without further adieu...

Hi everyone!  The Mr, here.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a food sneaker. When I was a kid, I snuck frozen cookie dough, pieces of cheese, bologna, etc. And I thought I always got away with it until one time my Mom confronted me about the cookie dough practically disappearing.

This affliction of mine would come and go. It wasn’t as big of a problem for me in high school but from time to time I would find myself in a situation where there was some good food that I wanted and I just didn’t care about the consequence of eating it and would practically suck it down without even tasting it half the time.

When The Mrs. and I finally had some weight loss success I found that I didn’t have much of a problem with this at first. But then, over time, I found myself just grabbing little things here and there. For example, I would eat a piece of cheese while making my lunch for the next day. Then I discovered Nutella. Oh man I love that stuff and I cannot control myself all the time with it available. I thought I was an expert at hiding my sneaks from her and tried to take as much as possible without allowing it to look too ridiculous. She would ask if I had been measuring and I would pretty much lie and say “yeah what’s the problem?”

But there was a problem. The problem was that I was sabotaging myself. What did she really care if I snuck a bunch of Nutella? The point was that I should have cared. For myself. Another bad discovery was Biscoff spread or “Cookie Butter”. I couldn’t help myself around that. I found that after a workout was a good time to take advantage of making my lunch for the next day while the Mrs. was showering up. This gave me plenty of time to indulge in some or all of my favorite sneaks. But it wasn’t the only time. I found that I was pretty adept at slamming food in my mouth when the Mrs. was right in the living room (perfect visibility into our kitchen). I would bend down over the dishwasher like I was busy doing the dishes or something and shovel in a piece of cheese. But it was actually the Biscoff spread that kind of led to my downfall because I ate more than could be reasonably explained, but more on this later.

Over time I also found myself eating stuff at work. A co-worker has a community candy dish that usually has those Hershey miniatures and maybe some Reese’s peanut butter cups, etc. I would never allow anyone to view me actually going and getting candy though. I had to do it when everyone was at lunch, or away from the desk. I was stealth about it but would grab handfuls and think nothing of it, all because I got away with it. But again, I didn’t get away with anything! I paid for it by not losing any weight that week and by setting myself back even further on the weight loss front. You see, this wasn’t necessarily a weekly thing. I could have some weeks where I was perfect. But if I was perfect one week and didn’t lose weight, you could bet I would tend to have more of a “screw it” attitude the following week and that was a recipe for disaster for me.

It was about a month ago now that I started to recognize that my little food sneaking problem, which seemed harmless enough at first, was terribly out of control. I began searching for help online but didn’t really find much. Deep down I felt like I needed to come clean with the Mrs. because I felt like it was one of those 12 step program type of things where you have to acknowledge the problem. It was when this was all coming to a head in my mind that the Mrs. confronted me about the Biscoff Spread.  I thought she had it more often than she did and the last time she had some there was half a jar and now there was one tablespoon left.  It was obvious but I still denied it.  A few days later, I knew I had to stop lying about it. To her. To myself.
I finally, thankfully, came clean by telling the Mrs. about all of the sordid details of my food sneaking exploits. It was embarrassing. It was shameful. But somehow it was also very freeing. I’m not going to say that I haven’t struggled from time to time but by just coming out and saying it and being more open about this struggle I have found a way to deal with this issue much better. I have even managed to lose some weight again and I can honestly say that ever since we had the discussion, I haven’t snuck any food at all.
If I find myself thinking about sneaking food then I think about the fact that I am not fooling anyone but myself. Likewise I am not sabotaging anyone but myself. I have more to lose by sneaking food then anyone else involved and I think that helps me to realize how stupid it really is to give in to that temptation. I don’t know how other food sneakers out there feel, but I know that I felt like I was playing some twisted game. Pulling one over on others or something. But I was really just pulling one over on myself.

At first I was kind of reluctant to share this with the world but I’ve come to realize that someone else out there is likely struggling with this. And while I may not have the perfect, permanent fix for this, I can at least tell you what has helped me with this so far and hope that you’ll be able to find some relief as well.
At work I did ask my co-worker to move the candy dish. It happens to sit pretty much in front of me and while I am trying my best to be good, it doesn’t help me much to have to watch everyone else grabbing candy all day long. Unfortunately my co-worker refuses to move it. Can’t win ‘em all I guess but I know that just means I have to be that much more diligent in my resolve to avoid sneaking food.  One time when she was filling it, she offered me Reese eggs (my favorite) as she was dumping them in the bowl.  I finally had to firmly tell her to stop telling me what she was putting in there because I'm trying to be good and I will obsess over it.  I don't want to know.  The Mrs even went so far as to make me a maggot infested picture of my favorite candy to refer to when I feel really tempted.  Yeah, it's gross but trust me, it works.  No Special Dark bar that is normally in the candy dish looks appetizing after looking at that picture!

One other thing now is that I have to write down everything I eat. I do that anyway but I now have to do it with complete honesty by recording even the stuff that I sneak. That is the rule but, again, I haven’t had to write down anything extra so far because I am still in a good place. I know there may come a time where I fall to temptation again. I am human and I will not beat myself up over it. But I know now that I can be more honest about it to myself and that is the most important thing. Once you stop trying to fool yourself, you realize how pointless it was to try to in the first place.

Tomorrow, the Mrs will be outlining what changes we've made the past month that has helped me get back in the right mind set and even helped her with an issue too.

Are you a food sneaker?  Any true confessions you want to express to see if others can help or give tips?

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  1. I'm so proud of you for being willing to share this. I was glad that you came clean with me a month ago and trusted that I would do anything to help you conquer this lifelong problem. I think that the changes we've made will help to take care of anything on this end. I'm a little pissed that your co-worker is less than helpful especially since she doesn't even SIT where she keeps the candy dish anymore. If you want to keep a candy dish on your own desk, that's up to you but you shouldn't be allowed to keep it on an empty desk where people who can't keep candy out of their pie holes all day long can come over and distract you all day long with their unwrapping candy wrappers and "oohing and ahhing" over how good the candy is. That's bullshit and given you're the nicest guy in the office and have always treated her with respect, I'm really disappointed in her for not doing the same for you. Just remember to get out the maggot pic if you're tempted! :-)

  2. Oh, man, does this hit home! I have also been a food sneaker since I was a kid. Just like the Mr., I can be "good" for a long time and then it's back with a vengeance. I have been doing it again for the past few weeks. Every day I say "no more" and then find myself doing it again. It's nice to know I'm not alone. I was tracking it but have even stopped that in past days. I will start tracking it again today. Looking forward to reading about the changes you've made.

  3. I am not a food sneaker, but I do have a horrible problem with eating what I want when I want because my childhood wasn't great and I deserve it. I know, really the wrong way to go and sometimes the adult me overrides the kid me, but most times not. It's very hard to get out of your own head, and your own way when trying to make better choices, however, I will prevail. Just like you and the Mr.

  4. Kudos Mr! It takes a lot to confront something like that. It sounds like you have some really great strategies to keep you on the straight and narrow. Thank you for sharing and keep it up!!!

  5. I'm pretty much the same and it blows.
    I've noticed when I go home to my mothers, she does the same thing I do. So I guess I learned it from her which is kind of odd because she wasn't around a lot when I was a kid.
    Even before I read this today, I had vowed to myself to go the next week, just one week, without binging/overeating (I hate these terms because of MFP forums to be honest. So overused and used incorrectly). I've already adjusted my diary there for the next few days to compensate for the last two days. So I'mma be hangry this weekend lol.

  6. I could have written this and not changed one detail. This hit me hard. I, too, have been a food sneaker since childhood. The senseless compulsion. Thinking I'm being clever or getting away with it. Lying to my wife's face about what I've eaten and how much. I've done all of that. In fact, I just snuck two individually-wrapped Twizzlers and was finishing the second of them when I started to read the article.

    I've tried the food journal accountability before, but I lied on that as well so it did me no good. I think I was afraid of my wife's disappointment and the shame I'd feel, but I see now that I need to get over that fear, because it's the only way that I'm going to change my ways.

    Thank you so much for writing this post. You might been the catalyst of my turn-around

  7. You are not alone. I sneak now an again and the peanut butter jar is usually my big downfall. I'll be using peanut butter and take an extra dip (just to eat) and not track it at all. But we all know peanut butter adds up FAST.

    I also sneak lunch meat. I'll take one extra slice and eat it while making a sandwich and not count it.

    I need to constantly remind myself that there is NO FREE FOOD. It all has calories and just because it was licked off my finger doesn't mean it had no calories.

  8. I am definitely guilty of being a food sneaker. I've struggled with this my whole life. I can even remember being like 9 or 10 and when my Mom was out, I'd make a HUGE bowl of instant rice, eat it and then clean the bowl. Or putting 1/2 cup of sugar under my cheerios, so I could scoop it up and no one would notice.

    Thank you for sharing this and know you're not alone!

  9. Wow....Mr., you hit it on the head. This is something I've known for a while, but was not willing to do anything about. Not good. It only hurts ME. Thank you for the honesty and for putting this out there. I know I will be just one that it helps.

  10. I was absolutely a food sneaker. I thought I was so slick traipsing through the kitchen, picking my food victim, and pressing it against my leg, basically like it had already become a part of my body. Most of the time I'd revel in my sneak for a few minutes before inhaling. I did this until a few years ago, when I confronted my eating habits and found I was self sabotaging as well. I still occasionally over eat, but no more sneaking. I'm thankful you were willing to share this because you are right, people sometimes feel very alone in their struggles. It is so important for us all to feel connected, and know we are not alone.

  11. Mom put me on a diet in 4th grade when I got chubby. Brother and his friends teased me relentlessly, often while stuffing their skinny boy faces with bags of chips and other junk. The real surprise would have been if I hadn't become a food sneak. Food sneaking led to bingeing because I had to cram everything in quickly to avoid getting caught. It took most of my 20s to realize where my problem was and I've spent my 30s trying to get it under control.

    Once your brain is wired to respond to food in a bad way, it's really hard to re-wire it. I too have a loving spouse that doesn't judge and tries to support me in all my attempts. I have no need to lie to him about what I eat but still feel the urge to hide or justify my choices. I used to eat a lot of fast food and would try to consume half the bag before I got home so he didn't know how much I ate. Or I'd eat at night after he went to bed.

    I've managed to lose 30 or so pounds at a time but never maintained the losses, largely due to comfort eating during stressful periods. So now I'm staring down the barrel of 40 wondering if the only way I'll survive is to give up food completely and have lap-band surgery. I love food. I don't want to give it up. I'm afraid my penchant for bingeing will lead to me injuring myself if I take the surgery route. So I'm focusing now on improving my relationship with food. I don't know if it can be done. I haven't been working on this specific angle for more than a few months. But I have to do something.

    That sneak and binge habit is so hard to break. Sometimes I feel like the T-1000 at the end of Terminator 2 that keeps changing form, hoping some version will help it escape from the boiling metal, until it finally gives up and dissipates. I just don't want to give up. I don't want to dissipate in a puddle of formless nothing.

  12. Oh yeah-I'm a food sneak from way back and lately it's getting worse. This has led to a 25 lb. gain from my low of 150. That's from a high of 328 lbs. I maintained at 150 for 2 1/2 years before my sneaking got out of hand. Today is the 3rd anniversary of hitting my goal weight of 160 lbs, but no celebration because of this recent gain. I too will try and curtail it to reverse this gaining trend. Thanks for sharing--I'm pretty sure there are many many of us food sneakers out there. It helps to know we're not alone.

  13. I know it must have been hard to be this brutally honest with the world, but I am so glad you did. I have this exact same issue but I haven't been able or willing to acknowledge that I have a problem until I read this post. The shame, the hiding, the terrible guilt - all of it is a heavy burden to bear, and you are right, I am only hurting myself. I have a lot of work to do in this area, and I will be reading subsequent posts from you and the Mrs. on this subject with rapt attention, because I know I need help with this issue. Once again, you guys are amazing role models. Thank you for being so honest and open with your struggles. You have no idea how much you have helped me and others with your candor.

  14. Oh man...how I can relate!! I swear, I don't even think I really realized I have been doing it - A LOT!! I might get a doughnut or See's candy, but I always make sure I eat it in the car on the way home so nobody knows. Or I grab a cookie and eat it in the kitchen while nobody is looking. :-(

    I'm so glad you shared this because I'm going to start to use some of your tips to try to beat this too!

  15. I've also done this a lot and I'm very thankful that you're talking about it with us. I can't wait to hear what you've implemented. I started out sneaking when I was young because I lived with my Mom but now that I'm older I don't necessarily sneak because there is no one to sneak from! Now it shows itself in additional portions or eating 'bad' things more than necessary. I also try to do a food log and will sometimes cheat on that. It's been about a year or so now that I've started to keep myself accountable. Eventually you learn that you're not hiding anything from yourself. Thanks again for sharing!

  16. I've been a food sneaker my entire life and it let me down the road to compulsive overeating for years. It was interesting when you mentioned a 12 step program, because a year ago this past March I joined OA and it's made a world of difference ever since. For the first time in my life it was ok to admit I wasn't a "normal" eater. To hear the confessions of others and the extent to which they would hide food, binge, etc, allowed me to share my own "secrets" of the unbelievable extent I would go to in order to hide food, take extra, etc. I ate a lot in secret because I could consume copious amounts of food and no one would be there to see me. But the shame was just as deep and intense as though I was standing on a stage eating in front of hundreds. What I really like about my group is that it's not even remotely close to being a diet club. No one tells you what to eat or how to eat, and so much of the conversation is about life in general and how eating better (and more honestly) affects all areas of our lives. I, personally, have learned what some of my trigger foods are (still discovering a few more as they rear their ugly heads) and I know I absolutely cannot eat those foods, period. If I do, I'm off and running and my entire food plan goes down the tubes. If I don't take that first compulsive bite, then I don't have to worry about any others that would follow. That has made a HUGE difference in my life. I'm finally figuring out that I can live quite happily without those trigger foods, because they truly didn't bring me any joy to eat them--they made the compulsion worse--and therefore the shame worse too. So thank you for sharing a very difficult subject matter. Food addiction is such a personal demon for some of us, but I think sometimes even more than the food itself, it's the behaviors that are hardest to break. But one step at a time, and with honesty, we can do it. Progress, not perfection (a mantra I live by repeatedly!) =o)

  17. Great post! Thanks for sharing Mr!! I'm also a "sneaky" eater, but I've never called it sneaking - I always know I'm doing it and ultimately I'm the only one who matters.
    Would you post a link to the maggot infested chocolate for those of us who might need to take a look at the picture to fortify ourselves?? And while you are at it perhaps you should print a copy of the picture and put it under the candy bowl, since it's on an empty desk?
    If only I could figure out why I am sabotaging myself and resolve it. It is easier for me to eliminate being around my problem foods by not having them in the house. Good luck on your journey to resolving the issue!

  18. Mr, Thank you for sharing this! I too am a food sneaker, and cookie butter is also one of my biggest downfalls. In fact, the first (and last) time I bought it, I ate a jar in 3 days. Eek! My husband has not allowed me to buy it since. As harsh as it seems for him to control my indulgences, it has really helped me to not have sneakable foods in the house. One cannot sneak if there is nothing to sneak! lol. Anyway, thank you again for sharing with us, and I wish you the best of luck with your journey!

  19. Thank you for trusting us enough to write about this issue Mr. And Mrs. too for trusting us too.

    I wasn't a food sneaker in the past, but over the last months I've noticed some of this kind of behavior in myself and I don't like it. No-one in my house cares what I eat, but I have found myself buying bags of candy and then hiding them in random places so I can sneak a piece or two (or 12) when I'm alone in the room. I have a stash at work too and I hide the wrappers. Then when I feel guilt I just want to eat more. Totally self-defeating.

    I'm running late this morning so I'll have to come back to read the follow up (today's) post later.

  20. Wow Mr! Vulnerability is the bravest thing! Love that you shared this with us! :-) You're making me smile at work and now you've got tons of us supporting you and rooting for you!

  21. Thank you so much for sharing this. Nutella, I can't even have it in my home. I think there are some battles with food that are easy to fight and some that you just have to keep going back in until you win. Accountability and acceptance are the best things you can do. Now you can move forward and learn how each day to fight harder!!!


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