- I’ve been hiding food from my husband to avoid a fight.
- Keeping my bag of sweets has been key to helping me heal my relationship with food.
- He understands that I can be more present with him and our children when I’m not preoccupied with food worries.
“Where is the Chocolove Bar I just bought?!” I say, angry. My husband blushes and has a shy smile on his face. “Maybe I ate it,” he admits.
This was a common interaction between me and my husband – until I started storing my sweets in a very secret location. Right now, in a dark corner of my home office are two packages of mini dark chocolate peanut butter cups, one bag of Trader Joe’s Almond Butter and Dark Chocolate Pretzels, and seven bars of Chocolove.
I know the squirrel away
Food is a classic sign of an eating disorder, but I would argue it’s also a sign that women like to be prepared for any kind of chocolate craving. Most importantly, my secret chocolate stash is an important part of my ongoing journey to heal my historically corrupt relationship with food.
The food made me feel out of control
For most of my life as an adult, I’ve felt out of control over food. More often than not, I’d be “good” all week, but once I had two glasses of wine on a Friday night, nothing was safe in my pantry — sweets were especially at risk.
As I frantically sniffed the stale baby Lucky Charms—except for all the marshmallows, they actually ate—and leftover marshmallows from camping trips last summer, in the softest tone possible, my husband would ask, “Are you sure about that?” What do you really want right now?”
In those moments, what I really wanted was a soft cookie, a cup of Reese’s peanut butter straight from the freezer, or a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla-Toffee-Crunch ice cream. Horrified that I never stopped eating these forbidden foods once I started, I generally avoided keeping them at home.
So I was lying to my husband and to myself. “Yes,” I answered, through gritty teeth. “This is exactly what I want to do now.” Each time, I say it in the same tone that our children use to let us know that they are, “Not tired. Tired. Not at all.”
I crave “bad” foods.
The more I told myself that certain “bad” foods are off-limits, the more I crave them. This led to the inevitable bouts of binge eating, whether that meant eating the real thing or making do with whatever I could find in the back of the pantry.
I thought this was a sign that I was weak—or at least that I didn’t belong in the health-obsessed town of Boulder, Colorado. Now I know I was just doing what humans do. Research shows that trying to avoid thinking about food is a predictor of overeating, cravings, and other disordered eating habits.
Everything changed when I embraced intuitive eating a few days after my fortieth birthday. Now, I choose what I eat based on what nourishes me and what I craving, rather than what I think I should be eating in an effort to accurately manage my weight. Three years later, I’m not quite as intuitive as eating, but worries about weight gain and food-related anxieties aren’t consuming my mental energy as they used to.
A big part of the transformation was giving myself full permission to eat all foods. For me, full permission means having plenty of sweets in the house at all times so I know I’m free to eat them whenever I want.
But since my husband tends to eat a whole bar of dark chocolate or a whole sleeve of Samoa crackers in one sitting, the foods I rely on often disappear overnight. So even though I didn’t hide my spending or my feelings from my husband, I don’t feel guilty about hiding food from him. He also does not mind.
He knows that when I’m not nervous about food, I’m more present when I’m with him and our kids.