Opportunity Eating

By Robyn Priebe
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Oh good, everyone is in bed……what do we have in the kitchen?

Opportunity eating can be eating food just because it’s available:

  • Your co-worker bakes brownies for everyone at work and leaves them in the break room.
  • The holidays roll around and the wide variety of food, and food abundance, leads to eating more.

However there is another type of opportunity eating; I like to call it “let me eat in peace!” It’s where we feel self conscious about our food choices and don’t want to eat much (or eat specific foods) in front of others.  Some times this triggers opportunity eating (or opportunity binge eating).

You have a window of privacy and you seize it to eat.   You may not be hungry.  You may not be in the mood for the type of food available.  However you may feel the strong urge to eat, thinking “this is my chance to eat this without anyone judging me.” This may be a thinking error getting in the way of adopting a healthy lifestyle.

How does one get around this thinking error?  Practice.  It may be helpful to make a point of eating some of these challenging foods with other people.  Not to prove anything to them but instead to prove it to ourselves that it’s OK, and that most of the time the judgment is coming from us, not from others.  That’s not to say that others never judge our food choices, but that’s an entirely different topic that deserves to be tackled at another time.

Can anyone relate to this pattern of worrying so much about what others think that we feel the need to hide eating?  Have you found any creative ways to minimize opportunity eating?

6 Responses (Add Yours)

  • I think that is SUCH a huge thing for me at night. I have recently been sent ‘Candy Cane Lane’ tea from America and I want to devour it. I love it. Having some type of night routine is an important thing I think. Something to look forward to…other than food.
    .-= Michelle@Eatingjourney’s last blog post..Dress A, B or C? =-.

  • Great post, yes, I can relate! I think you nailed it when you said it’s not others judging us but ourselves. For some reason or another, we have come to the belief that our food choices are not to be accepted, they are bad and shameful so we eat in peace, rather, guilt! I’m not perfect in this area but I do aim to be confident in my eating choices.
    Thanks for posting!

  • Melissa says:

    I am DEFINITELY guilty of this, and when I was at my worst (chewing and spitting) I only did it alone, in my car, or when no one could see me at home or work. So sad. Those days are long gone, but I still tend to eat “junk” alone. :( I’m working on it. Definitely a great post!
    .-= Melissa’s last blog post..First Lady Tackling Childhood Obesity =-.

  • Sagan says:

    This has me written all over it. Sometimes I’m grumpy when I hear my roommate coming home because I really just wanted to “eat in peace” and not be bothered with seeing anyone. Not like I’d be BINGING, but sometimes I’d just rather eat alone. I don’t know.
    .-= Sagan’s last blog post..Grocery Shopping, “Living Healthy in the Real World” Style =-.

  • love2eatinpa says:

    now that i’ve stopped bingeing, i don’t worry about this so much, but for the past three decades, YES, i did this all the time. i just wanted to be alone so no-one could see all the food i was inhaling.
    it’s funny, we are on the same wavelength, because today i just wrote a post that included this concept too! :)

  • Robyn says:

    Thanks for the feedback everyone. Getting over this idea that there are certain things we shouldn’t eat, takes lots of time and practice. A little bit of dialog with ourselves is always helpful too when we find ourselves getting sucked back into those old thinking errors that sent us in the wrong direction in the past. I like using the reminder, “that was my old way of thinking and it never had a good outcome; I’m going to try something different this time.”

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