Do you deal with food guilt?
I certainly do.
And it stems from the idea that there are good foods and that there are bad foods, when the reality is, there is just food.
Barring cultural specifications and concerns, food in itself has no morality attached to it.
We feel guilty about food because we live in a culture obsessed with correlating thinness with health and beauty at all costs – even if it is not the case.
Even now, I preach self-love, body confidence, and eating when you need it, but still, I struggle with eating some things.
I’ll crave a ‘bad’ food, and then put off eating it, until eventually I binge on it. This is followed by feelings of immense guilt, as if I have done something bad, shameful, and should avoid this in the future.
It’s the same as the idea of having one ‘cheat meal’ that suddenly turns into an entire ‘cheat weekend’. The idea that, well, I already blew it by eating something ‘bad’, so I may as well eat it all. It simply doesn’t work and it leaves you feeling as if you’ve lost all ‘willpower’.
And then you gain that willpower back, and restrict yourself and ignore your cravings, until it all happens again.
When we restrict something we’re actually all the more inclined to want it.
A much more sustainable way to eat? Eat what you want, when you want to. If it’s important to you to track your food consumption, eat what you want, and make it fit into your food for the day.
Admittedly, I feared giving up restriction because I thought it meant I would gain weight.
What I didn’t realize was that my body is a lot smarter than I thought. Your body knows what it needs, and lets you know. By allowing yourself to eat without restriction, you’re able to listen to your body’s hunger cues, meet your nutritional needs, and actually avoid binging on foods.
Instead of obsessing over what you ate and feeling shame, think about how you feel after each meal. Do you feel satiated? Did the food make you happy? How did it taste? Did you have any physical reactions to this food? Would you like to feel this way again?
When you listen to your body’s cues, mindful eating practices become that much easier, and you can slowly begin to build or repair your relationship with food.
And if you do find yourself feeling guilty for eating something, let it go. This is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. Move on, return to normal, do not punish yourself for feeding your body.
Most importantly, remember to honour your body by feeding it what it needs, judgement-free.