How to stop feeling guilty when you eat.
Something I see with a lot with my clients is them having guilt when they eat certain foods. And it’s not just with my clients, I mean you can get on IG and within 5 seconds see someone associating guilt with food. Or someone saying something along the lines of, “just ran 5 miles, so now I can go enjoy some ice cream and not feel guilty.”
Since all of those things annoy me, I thought it would be helpful and healthful to share how to stop feeling guilty about food.
If you are stuck in an, “i feel guilt when I eat X” cycle. Here’s one thing that could be going on. (pssst. i borrowed the below concept from the book Intuitive Eating)
When stuck in a diet mentality, you deprive yourself of foods you enjoy. This means food deprivation is high, but guilt is low.
The little part of you that houses your guilt gets to stay cool, calm and collected when you are restricting yourself from foods that you deem “bad”. Everything in your world seems right. Everything except the fact that you are hungry and not satisfied by the carb-less kale salads you are eating.
BUT guilt is low, which probably feels nice and gives you a sense of control over your life.
Eventually you get to a point where you can’t deprive yourself anymore and you let go of deprivation (aka you let yourself eat what your body is craving). Extreme desire for/restriction of a certain food leads to extreme eating. The more you restrain yourself around a food, the more off limits that food becomes and the more you will typically overeat when you finally allow yourself to have the food.
At this point, deprivation is low and guilt is high. This is also the point you vow to never eat “X” again. Then the seesaw between guilt and deprivation starts again. All the while you asking yourself why you have no willpower around food.
I wanna say that willpower is not the issue here. The issue is actually the deprivation!
Many people can seesaw between guilt and deprivation for YEARS. However, by giving yourself permission to eat all foods, you give yourself permission to walk away from deprivation AND to therefore walk away from the guilt.
So how do you stop the guilt?
You walk away from the deprivation! You stop making rules for yourself around food that cause deprivation and a diet mentality.
How do you stop having rules around food?
You stop labeling food as good and bad. You give yourself permission to eat foods that satisfy you. You allow all foods to become legalized in your mind.
Here is your activity for the next week:
Step one: identify a food you are avoiding or restricting.
Step two: incorporate that food into your life on a daily basis. DAILY. If that is a chocolate chip cookie from your favorite bakery, have a chocolate chip cookie everyday for a week. If that is ice cream, encourage yourself to eat a 1/2 cup serving of ice cream each day for 7 days.
And you know what? When you walk away from deprivation, you stop obsessing about food, which is so nice to be able to have your thoughts back on something else that is actually productive and beneficial to your life.
Having guilt over your eating doesn’t make you thin, just like loving yourself doesn’t make you gain weight. Nope.
Starting utilizing your brain space to think about living your life to the fullest and perhaps realize that the food you eat and your body’s unique shape is only a tiny component of living a fulfilling life.
If you have a difficult relationship with food and your body, I hope you will look into my online course and see if it is something that resonates with you.
For more on your relationship with food and your body, check out these posts: