7 Tips to Stop Closet Eating

Today’s post was originally published on February 9, 2012. I thought it would be helpful to re-post for new readers.

–Do you eat in private where no one else can see?

–Do you eat healthy in front of others and unhealthy in private?

–Do you stick to your diet and/or meal plan during the day, only to go off track once you’re home?

–Do you sneak food into your diet, keeping it from other people?

Closet eating can be difficult to talk about for a lot of people. Although it may be done in private, those who have a “secret eating life” can feel consumed and burdened by their actions. Why do we eat in private? Why do we sabotage our diets? Why do we feel guilty about what we’re eating?


I am a closet eater. I think I have trained myself to be a closet eater. When I was little, I used to eat very little, if any, in front of friends. Instead I’d overeat at home, taking food up to my room in order to hide the amount of food I was eating from my parents.

As an adult, I no longer feel that I have to hide from others but it is still tempting. Any time a buffet is involved, the closet eater in me comes out. Buffets make me very insecure so it’s easy to eat very little at the event, knowing that I can just go home and eat a larger meal. At home, no eyes are on me. No one is there to “judge me”.

In August 2011, I shared about a binge eating episode I had and how negatively it affected me and my body. Still now, it can be difficult to stay away from the foods that can trigger a binge episode (nutella, various ice creams, tortilla chips, etc.). I am doing a lot better, but it is and may always be a struggle for me.

7 Tips to Stop Closet Eating

1. Understand that weight loss is hard

Change is hard. Change requires us to go against what is normal or habit, thus causing various reactions to the change. You must accept that weight loss is hard.

2. Forgive yourself for the closet eating you have done in the past

Forgiveness is an important part of moving forward. Who you’ve been doesn’t have to define who you will be!

3. Make a list of the foods that tempt you or trigger closet eating

As I’ve shared, I have a list of “no-no” foods. I have had to accept that these foods are too tempting for me.

4. Stop buying the foods that tempt you

In time, you may be able to incorporate them back into your grocery list, but for now, accept that they are too tempting and are sabotaging your diet.

5. Share your struggles with a friend, partner, or significant other

Telling others about your struggles will be difficult, but it’s an important step in coming out of hiding. You may need to talk about ways their habits affect your own eating or how the changes to your diet may affect them. The key is having open communication.

6. Stop Tasting

Do you eat a full meal’s worth of “tastes” while you’re cooking dinner, only to sit down to a full meal when it’s ready? Closet eating doesn’t have to be the consumption of a full meal but can also happen through the various bites, tastes, and licks throughout the day.

7. Close the kitchen

This is difficult for me, as the kitchen is “always open”. Making a decision not to walk back into the kitchen after dinner can help you to stick to your eating plan.


  1. says

    good note, stop buying foods that tempt you…I need to listen to this one, I buy cereal, which I love and the not so good for you sugary kind (like captain crunch etc), but its great, plus chocoalte etc…I give the excuse that my step son and husband always complain there are no snacks, but I need to stop thinking like that. Of course every once in a while these things are def OK with me!

  2. says

    I am a total closet eater. I’ve worked so hard over the past year to eliminate done if my triggers but it seems that this last 6 weeks I have allowed lack of motivation to creep from my fitness goals to my eating. It’s time to start being more self aware again and help myself instead of self sabotaging!

  3. says

    I definitely needed to read this today! I’m beginning to work on this with my therapist and some of the suggestions you’ve presented are very important and valuable (particularly tasting, close the kitchen and making a list of trigger/no-no foods). Thanks so much for sharing, I’ve bookmarked this for future reference!

    - Caitlin from Weights and Measure

  4. says

    I have found that I am slipping back into being a closet eater. Thanks for the tips. I’ve worked too hard getting to where I am to go back to where I was by returning into a closet eater.

  5. says

    I’ve never really been a binge eater (nothing out of control), but I have always had a secret stash of candy and such. I do control myself most of the time, but it’s there, and it’s mine. I do find myself hiding some eating habits. As I’ve started on this weight loss journey again, I have been tracking everything on MFP, but I keep my diary private, as I am embarrassed about the amount of empty calories (I even labeled one of the sections “Completely Empty Calories” to see if that might guilt me into keeping the entries there down. Still a lot there every day). Hubby just joined MFP and it only makes sense to open my diary to him, as we are often eating the same meals, and I’ve entered many meals and family recipes … but I am a little chagrined at him being able to actually see what I eat.

  6. says

    Very powerful! The part about forgiving yourself on the past was so close to home! I always say there is nothing someone can make fun of me for that I haven’t already thought about myself. We are so hard on ourselves!

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