Tossing the empties, hiding the evidence

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When I maybe 12 years old, I talked Donald, the sometimes-shaven caretaker at the synagogue my family attended, to let me take home the leftover challah after Saturday services. It was just a few slices, but they was free, and I wouldn’t have to share them with anyone.

Are you sure it’s OK with your folks, Donald would ask, and of course, I’d assure him it was, just as assuredly that it was not.

I don’t remember how many times he gave me the leftovers, but I remember why he stopped: My mother found a crumb-filled bag under my bed, and the jig was up.

Donald was not pleased.

Neither was my mother.

Me, I just looked for other little schemes to boost the amount of food I could latch onto The impulse to do so went on for years, and vestiges remain, more than 20 years after I began to really understand that successfully hatching those schemes was never in my best interest.

All I learned from that episode was to make sure I hid my empties. Sort of like an alcoholic would do in her or his home, if the spouse or parent had clued into the destructiveness of drinking ahead of the drinker.

So let me ask you: Have you ever tried to hide your empties, by making sure not to leave them on top of the trash in the barrel ... or taking them out to the garage ... or making sure you ditched the bag or box in a dumpster before arriving home ... or making sure you’d brushed off the donut crumbs before going into work? You know if you did it for fastidiousness or deviousness.

“Deviousness?” OK, fine, let’s say “privacy.”

If you have, you might consider that you have an eating problem — it’s a prime piece of evidence, IMO — because you're saying you know you're doing something "wrong," and you want to keep that information from others. My stashing came partly from shame, partly out of denial — as if people wouldn’t know I was overeating if I hid the empty packaging.

If you don’t do it, I bet you know someone who has, even if you don't realize it. Perhaps you don’t know because they’re better at hiding the empties than I was when I was maybe 12 years old.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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