“Try this guilt free ice cream”
“Cereal is my guilty pleasure”
“I shouldn’t have that chocolate … but go on then”
“I can’t resist naughty foods”
We literally hear it all the time. Food and guilt are so intertwined in our diet obsessed culture that it has become normal to feel like it’s okay to feel bad about things we have eaten.
I battled with living in a constant state of guilt for around 5 years. If I ate bread = guilt. If I ate cereal = guilt. If I ate chocolate, pizza, cake, anything that was outside of my calories or my macros = guilt. And then because I already felt guilty and ashamed of myself it would turn into a binge, because of the idea “I’ve already gone off track, I might as well eat it all now”. This is the result of restriction and forms the diet/binge cycle – you think you won’t be able to eat this (insert food here) tomorrow so you might aswell shove as much as you possibly can of it in your mouth now. Then you go back to restricting and depriving yourself of what you really want, and eventually you give in, eat that cookie (and 10 more) and the whole vicious cycle starts again. And you don’t even get to enjoy the delicious foods you’ve been craving because you’re so consumed by the guilt.
The notion there is good and bad food is one that’s widely accepted within our society, and one that desperately needs to change. By labelling food as bad you are inviting the guilt in to play when you eat these foods, and more often than not compensatory behaviours such as over exercising the next day to burn off the calories consumed. In reality no food is good or bad. We need to stop imposing moral judgement onto food. Did you steal the food? Did you kill someone for it? Did you actually do anything wrong at all? The answer is probably (hopefully) no. The food we eat is in no way a reflection of our character, or the type of person we are. It is literally just a bunch of nutrients we feed ourselves with. So you eat kale for every meal? Great. You had cake for breakfast? Fantastic. Neither of these things make us a better or worse person. Sure, it’s good for our body’s to eat lots of fruit and vegetable but it’s good for our soul to eat your mums homemade lasagne or order that dessert you’ve got your eye on in the restaurant.
It’s called balance.
I remember the week around my birthday in the past would be horrific. I’d eat all the cake and the birthday meals, get horrendously drunk and binge on takeaways and whatever else the next day, then spend the next few weeks in this enormous cloud of guilt and restriction, accompanied by excessive exercise. I recently went away with my boyfriend for a few days and knew it would involve zero exercise and LOTS of food. So I warned him that come Monday I might not be in a good place due to past expectations. However when the guilt didn’t (and still hasn’t) hit me, I realised how far I’d come and how much I have healed in terms of my relationship with food, my body and myself. In my previous days of crying in my bedroom because I’d eaten a full pizza to myself at a restaurant to eating out a good 10 times in the past week, I’m or ashamed to say I am pretty proud of myself.
So if you’re experiencing what I, and the majority of both females and males, experience on a day to day basis I’d like to leave you with a few things I wish I was told sooner:
1) Listen to your intuition (I’m going to do a full blog post on intuitive eating as I believe this is the absolute key to stepping away from the diet mentality) – this means learning to recognise what your body is craving and honouring this. When you allow yourself to eat anything you want you’ll find your body doesn’t actually crave chocolate 24/7 at all – most likely you just crave it because you’ve told yourself it’s ‘bad’ and you ‘can’t’ have it.
2) Following on from that stop labelling food as good or bad. Food is food. Food does not involve morals.
3) Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Only when you learn to treat yourself and your body with respect will you find your place of balance and happiness.
4) Let go of this control you have around food – most of the time it’s the food that controls you, not the other way round.
Once you learn to approach life with a balanced mindset, listen to your intuition and be grateful for your body and everything it does for you, your relationship with food will transform.
As always contact me if me if you have any questions surrounding this particular topic or any other – email@example.com