Have you ever felt guilty for eating your favourite food? Have you ever had a binge session? Have you ever told yourself you shouldn’t be eating something because it’s “high in calories”? Do you see food as “good” or “bad”?
If you said yes to any of these questions, you might have an unhealthy relationship to food. Unfortunately, this happens to a LOT of women, myself included. In this blog post, I’m going to give you some tips on how to conquer food guilt and start developing a more positive relationship with food.
The Slippery Slope to Food Guilt
Sometimes, the desire to lose weight or get healthier can become so strong that it’s in your mind nearly every minute of every day.
You deny and deny yourself; you feel like you’re saying “no, no, no” all the time. To get to your goal faster, you even cut out the “cheat days” from your diet schedule.
And the more you try to restrict yourself, the more you crave the so called “bad” food.
You accept the slice of cake at a friend’s birthday party. You grab a package of cheese-flavored chips on your way through the checkout line at the store. You order a large fries along with your healthy wrap.
And after you’ve eaten, you feel terrible. You’re discouraged and disappointed. You feel like you’ve failed.
The Usual Responses to Food Guilt – The Two R’s
So, how should you react when you feel food guilt? Well, there are two unhealthy ways and one healthy. Keep in mind that your health and your fitness future depend on which path you take.
You can give up.
You can tell yourself that your fitness goals are never going to happen, it’s no use, and you might as well just go back to your previous diet and lifestyle.
You can binge eat to soothe those feelings— but in the long run, that only makes the guilt more painful and the road to fitness even longer.
Negative self-talk is a destructive path.
Coupled with guilt, it can lead to serious eating disorders and body image problems. Food-shaming yourself doesn’t help the fitness process or the weight loss goals; it just makes the problem worse.
Another reaction is to revert to your severe diet program.
You work yourself into a soaking sweat on the treadmill, trying to atone for those extra calories.
You determine to restrict yourself even more, to exercise harder, and to be even more fierce in your battle for fitness.
What’s the problem with this reaction?
Well, this mentality is what led you to the overwhelming food guilt in the first place. If you go back to your previous thought process, you’ll just find yourself repeating the pattern again and again.
My Advice on How to Conquer Food Guilt – The Three R’s
Relax, Review, and Recover
Here’s what I suggest you do.
Admit to yourself that you messed up. You fell short of a goal that you set for your life. But before you do that, think about how realistic was that goal in the first place? Are you eliminating all indulgence from your life, turning food into an enemy?
That’s a dangerous path; so perhaps you need to review and reassess your diet.
Instead of being ultra-restrictive, set reasonable food boundaries and allow yourself some indulgences.
If you are at a birthday party, it’s OK to eat cake and enjoy it. If you’re on a date, you’re allowed a guilt-free meal, with no consideration for calories.
The schedule, food items, and quantities are up to you. The point is that you’re not eliminating all your favourite foods from your life; you’re simply removing their control over you.
You’re the one with the power, and you get to dictate when those foods enter your life, on your timetable.
If you’re still experiencing severe guilt, write down those feelings in a journal or on a piece of scrap paper; then tear it to pieces.
You’ve admitted the feelings, and now you’re moving on. That episode of your fitness journey is over— what matters is the future.
If you’re still struggling, please know that you don’t need to struggle alone.
Reaching out to a dietician, nutritionist or a psychologist. I know this might seem daunting, but I promise they see these issues on a regular basis and won’t judge. They will do their absolute best to help you! So keep this in mind.
I wish you all the best!xx