I am a grown woman. I have never been scolded or made to feel anything negative by anyone living in my home regarding the food choices that I make. Yet, I have found myself looking around corners late at night to make sure my husband is still in the bathroom so I can sneak a piece of cheese from the fridge. Like an old alcoholic who hides their vodka in the back of the toilet tank to keep it cold, I have bought candy and stashed it in the back of a cupboard or drawer so that I can get it later. And I have even wrapped my evidence (wrappers and boxes) up in plastic grocery bags before putting them in the trash so that nobody would know that I ever had them.
So why do I do this? I have been thinking about it and even done some research online about the whole concept of sneaking food over the last week or so and here is what I’ve come up with so far: there is a big correlation between sneaking food and having issues with shame.
Deep down I feel ashamed that I am fat. I am embarrassed that I need more food than someone else in order to feel satisfied. I feel shame over the fact that I am eating at a time that “normal” people don’t eat. I feel inferior because I have exhibited such a lack of self-control that I am physically different from others around me. And so in my mind I am sneaking in order to avoid the judgment that I think is going to be placed on me from other people. But in reality, those people don’t care - it is judgment from myself that is the real issue.
Don’t we do the same thing in other areas of our lives that we are ashamed of as well? We are ashamed of being poor so we buy things on credit that we can’t afford just to look the same as everyone else. Maybe you’ve suffered sexual abuse and are now dress or act in a way as to camouflage or underemphasize your femininity and sexuality because you find it something to be ashamed of? Or maybe you feel shame over things that are legitimately shameful but instead of dealing with it in a healthy manner, you hide, lie, and twist the truth in order to avoid judgment from others. And as a matter of fact, I just realized that a part of me feels ashamed for feeling shame. I am a shame-aholic.
So how do you get over shame? Maybe I’m oversimplifying it here, I don’t know. But it seems to me like if you feel shame over something that isn’t your fault, then you need to seek an answer to your pain that is more emotional/spiritual in nature. Maybe acknowledge your feelings and jot them down in a journal. See if there are any patterns that emerge. Pray about it and work on reaffirming yourself by replacing negative self talk with positive. Try to see yourself as worthy of the calling that God has placed in front of you. And if your feelings of shame and guilt are tied to something that is legitimate, then take comfort in the fact that you have the power to change your own actions and whatever it is that is weighing you down can be fixed or eliminated.
This week I am just going to try to purposefully be aware of my eating habits when it comes to sneaking food. How often do I do it? Do I notice any patterns as to the whens and the whys surrounding it? Hopefully I don't feel the urge to excessively snack, but IF I DO, I am going to be sure to do it in front of someone if possible and take note as to why it is making me uncomfortable in that moment. Maybe if we all do this we can learn something about our relationship with food that we haven't noticed before. And then we can be a step closer to stopping the behavior altogether.