Eveydayhealth.com expert Dr. Martin Binks said closet eating (eating large food out of sight of others) may be a symptom of binge eating disorder and offers these tips:
"People with this disorder often use food to cope with emotions (both past and current). Because there are many possible contributors to this issue, you should seek out a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of binge eating. There may also be some underlying psychological disorders like depression that may contribute to this behavior, so it's important to be fully evaluated to ensure you get the best possible treatment," Binks said.
In the meantime, the doctor recommended these "core behavioral strategies" anyone with the problem can begin to work on immediately:
1. Make sure you are eating a healthy, filling, balanced diet and getting enough calories spread evenly throughout the day. Consuming a diet like the ones recommended by the American Heart Association or the USDA Food Pyramid, for example, and paying particular attention to including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and a healthy balance of protein and fat can help you to control cravings and hunger, which may be among several binge triggers.
2. Review the stress in your life. Stress represents a potential
binge-eating trigger in two ways: Many people binge on food as a way to self-soothe and cope with stress, and cortisol and other stress-related hormones have been shown to influence hunger. Check out information on stress management. Exercise can also be a very helpful stress reducer and a good distracter from eating. For example, schedule a walk at high-risk times to help avoid turning to food.
3. Enlist the support of friends or family to walk with. Chat on the phone or find new activities.
"This issue does not have a single answer, but rather involves applying an overall self-care approach that will help you to win the battle," Binks said.