Have you ever ate a salad for dinner and was on top of the world because you felt like you were doing a “good” thing? Now on the flip side, have you ever ate a piece of cake and felt like you had done something “wrong,” like you had messed up in some way?
That “I did something wrong because I ate this” feeling is food guilt. I picked up food guilt after years of dieting and I struggled with it for a very long time. When we diet, we are told what foods we should eat to “stay on track” and what types of foods cause us to “go off track.” We learn to start labeling foods as good and bad and that is where the problem starts.
Food guilt keeps us in bondage to food and takes all of the joy out of eating the foods that we enjoy. I let food guilt run my life for so long and it wasn’t until I overcame it that I truly started to learn to build a healthy relationship with food. Overcoming food guilt is the very reason why I am able to eat the foods that I enjoy on a daily basis. It was on my heart to share some of the things that helped me get over food guilt and start enjoying food again, without feeling shame.
4 Things that I did to overcome food guilt
#1: Shut out the critics
People will always have their opinion on what we should be doing, especially if we are trying to lose weight. It is really easy to let the opinions of other people cause us to act or feel a certain type of way. I used to let the opinions of other people bother me. People would tell me things like: “if you want to lose weight you can’t eat that… you should be eating this.” It is very important to take other people’s opinions with a grain of salt and move on. Do not let other people cause you to feel guilty about the things that you choose to eat.
#2: Stop thinking of foods as good or bad
When we are used to dieting, we fall into the trap of thinking of food as good or bad.
If I eat broccoli, I’m good
If I eat a brownie, I’m bad.
Foods low in calories are good!
Foods high in calories are bad!
I started thinking of food just as it is… food! I do not believe there is such a thing as “good” and “bad” foods. Sure, some food is more nutritious than others, but I have accepted the fact that there is room for all foods in my life.
#3: Stop having a restrictive mindset
Have you ever started a diet and then immediately you want:
…. All the things?
When we tell ourselves that we cannot have something, we want it that much more! I used to tell myself all the time things like “I can’t have that cake, it’s bad for me.” Because of that restrictive mindset, I craved cake almost every day. Now I give myself permission to eat dessert every day IF I want. And you know what?? I crave it less and less. I eat dessert 1-2 times a week now without any guilt.
NO one will ever lose weight AND maintain that weight loss over time by feeling guilty about or depriving themselves of foods they love. Simply give yourself the option to eat. Depriving ourselves will never get us anywhere. It is important not to put restrictions on food.
#4: Realize that weight loss is a process
Something that helped me was realizing that it is not what we do every once in a while, that makes the difference, it’s the things that we consistently do over time that makes the biggest impact. Just like we won’t magically lose 20 pounds because we ate broccoli for a week, we will not gain weight because we ate a brownie once a week.
Food is to be enjoyed and that does not change just because we have weight to lose. Weight loss is a process. It takes time to lose weight the right way. We did not gain all of the weight, in a month or two, so we probably won’t lose it that fast either. Life is about balance. If you are eating a balanced diet, most of the time, you should not feel guilty about indulging in something that you enjoy.
When we overcome food guilt, we truly start enjoying food again and start accomplishing the health and weight loss goals that we set for ourselves. When it comes to food guilt what is the biggest challenge that you face?
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