If you want to transform your relationship with food, it needs to be done through positivity. This is where food guilt can really hang us up.
So what is food guilt? We all have thoughts that stem from guilt around food. When we are aware of how unhealthy certain food is but eat it anyway, it can cause us to really spiral. Common guilt-inducing foods are ice cream, candy, chocolate, cookies, and chips. Snacks produce the most guilt. But the truth is, it can come at any time, from any meal. And it is not productive.
So what are the solutions? We looked at the research, and what happens in our sessions, and I think our solutions are a little different than what you hear all over the place.
- Plan for imperfection. Food guilt results from the perceived rules that we have. There is a difference between a diet and long-term healthy eating, and our rules need to acknowledge that there is some room for indulgence or mistakes.
- Skip the scale. Most people fluctuate regularly for no real reason, and obsessing over those numbers is not helpful. If you’re eating well and the scale doesn’t reflect it, that can be really discouraging and lead to giving up or eating worse. Think about how you are feeling, because that is more important than the numbers.
- Rituals can reverse things. We’re big fans of morning rituals specifically. If you feel guilty over how you ate last night, your morning ritual can be a way to reset and go back to normal.
- Make a walkthrough. A lot of the food we feel guilty about is impulsive, so schedule what you are going to eat and what you are going to skip the day or week before. Make these plans before you are tired or stressed so you can make better decisions.
- Acknowledge your victories. We are often naturally critical of ourselves, but keeping track of what we are doing well can help us get over the guilt.
- Define a why. Try and figure out why you overate, what part of your routine it came from and give it some attention.
- Make room for a treat. If we can manage to fit treats into our plan while still sticking to a healthy diet, you don’t have to feel like you are being too restrictive or going off the rails.
- Eating style. A lot of what makes us feel poorly is how we eat: how quickly we eat, are we multitasking, are we standing? Work on some of these things and trying to make things feel completely different.
- Un-fun or undone. There is a little less guilt when we are surrounded by others than when we are in our home. There is some peer pressure involved, and we don’t want to be seen as not participating. Be okay with “not being fun” while you’re out, or just allow yourself to celebrate guilt-free.
- Treat training. Part of being a healthy person is knowing how to indulge without guilt. If there are foods you would like to be incorporating but don’t know how to out of guilt or fear, try this:
- Look at your calendar and plan for when you can have a treat during a social event.
- Portion it. Know how much you can reasonably have and set a limit.
- Savor it. If there is something worth working into your diet, you want to enjoy every bite.
- Next meal on track.
We want you to have less anxiety, less guilty, and feel good about food all-around. When you’re having those negative thoughts, keep these tips in mind and catch yourself.