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.

how to stop feeling guilt when you eat |

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.  

how to stop feeling guilt when you eat |

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!

how to stop feeling guilt when you eat |

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 nice ol’ scoop 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.

how to stop feeling guilt when you eat |

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.

how to stop feeling guilt when you eat |

For more on your relationship with food and your body, check out these posts:

You don’t have to believe what you think.

Ask yourself.  Am I doing this because I love my body or because I hate my body?

Why not to go on a diet.


  1. I love this. For years, my guilt-inducing food was puppy chow. Every time I would come home from college, I’d make a huge batch and eat to the point of feeling sick. Then I’d go back to school and deprive myself of it until I returned home for the next school break. I eventually realized that depriving myself was the reason I couldn’t help but eat past fullness. It was a very long, multi-year process for me– at first, I started by allowing myself to eat puppy chow multiple times a day while I was home instead of only allowing myself to have it at night. Then, I’d make multiple batches while home during long breaks so that I always had it accessible when I wanted it. Two years post graduation and I am finally comfortable making/eating it whenever and wherever I am… And low and behold, I’ve found that I no longer crave it constantly, nor do I eat more than a normal portion when I do crave it. It took a lot of time and effort, but it feels great to be free from those guilt-inducing stomachaches.

  2. I really need to read the intuitive eating book. Love this post!

  3. Thank you so much for this and all of your other awesome posts! 

  4. Really enjoying these kind of posts lately, thank you. You are awesome!

  5. YES! That need to earn our food or feel guilty for what we eat drives me crazy. It’s something that is so ingrained in our culture that you really have to work to un-learn the behaviour and feelings. I love this post!

  6. I really, really, really love your perspective on probably all topics, but especially on disordered eating and the way we tie emotions to food. It’s so refreshing! Just thought you should know :)

  7. So, so love your posts on this topic. Very well written and refreshing (half of Insta makes me feel like women our age have lost their minds), and  reminds me of a column I used to read in one of my mom’s magazines (Good Housekeeping) when I was younger. Random, I know, but I remember finding such solace in the words the columnist, who wrote about this exact type of stuff/intuitive eating, and I am confident you’re having that effect on your readers as well. I sort of grew out of my personal experience with guilt/deprivation on my own, although I think loved ones’ support (whether they knew it or not) plus becoming a sincere lover of fitness and running helped tremendously. Also, this made me think of something my dad has always said: “I workout to eat more cake, not less.” ;) 

  8. This is awesome! I have found myself feeling guilty about certain foods. I have also struggled with feeling guilty about portions. Love the idea of incorporating it on a daily basis so you’re not obsessing!

  9. This is wonderful and those illustrations make lots of sense. Thanks for sharing :)

  10. I love this so much!!! Your words are amazing & inspiring once again. Thank you thank you thank you

  11. Love this.  So much truth here!

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  15. You are KILLING it with all of these intuitive eating and body positive messages lately. Please keep it up, girl! As someone who is just beginning the recovery journey, posts like this one that you seem to be incorporating more into your content as of late are so valuable. I appreciate you and the work that you’re doing!

  16. You really hit every point in this post perfectly… love this!! I get so annoyed with the Instagrammers that are like “I can go have this cookie bc I worked out for x amount of hours”- you can have that cookie whenever! I remind myself that eating and guilt are two things that should never be associated with each other.

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  18. This was such an amazing read. I’ve learned that the more I restricted myself, the harder it was for me to be happy and to actually enjoy eating! I wish that I could tell myself a few years ago that there are no foods that are going to “kill” you if you have them in a reasonable amount! I just prefer eating clean because I easily feel satisfied and nourished without tons of desserts. However, I treat myself if I really want to, which is how it should be!

  19. Kylie- Love this post so much! Once again, everything you write resonates with me almost as if you wrote it FOR ME (so crazy!).

    When you talked about eating ice cream every day, why did you specify “1/2 cup serving”? That’s something that caught my eye and I wondered if there was significance to the measurement.

  20. It’s funny because I was actually thinking the same thing as Sara. I had recently identified that ice cream is something that i’ve been depriving myself of and it is undoubtedly my favorite food. Today, what I saw as a victory was getting myself an unmeasured serving in a small bowl, which was a far cry from the amount I would binge on certain occassions, but i’ve seen enough “1/2 cup” portions that I know I had a little more than that.

    Is that not something you recommend? I can’t deny the bit of anxiety this post triggered while reading that statement.

    Thanks Kylie!

    • Hi Ashley!

      Great point. A much more helpful way to phase that sentence would have been “have a bowl / a nice ol’ scoop of ice cream”…I’ll edit the post. I work a lot with those in early eating disorder recovery and at times measurements are a stepping stone to getting them to intuitive eating where they can listen to their taste buds and eat without measuring. I imagine that’s the reader I had in mind when I wrote this post. I’m glad you pointed out it was an unhelpful phrase for you and I agree the measurement isn’t needed in this post.

      That said, one of my favorite expressions is, “eat the hay and spit out the sticks”…not all advice is good advice for every person. Absorb what is helpful for you and leave the rest <3

      Thanks for commenting!

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