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Does guilt eat you up whenever you eat certain foods? Does it feel like the end of the world to you if you eat french fries or ice cream or some pasta? Do you feel angry with yourself and blame yourself for not having been able to refrain from eating?
Well, you are not alone. This feeling of guilt has been shaped by society and the general diet culture, which forces everyone to be so attached to strict – sometimes unreasonable – diet rules. However, it’s important to remember that we are human at the end of the day, and we must learn to reduce this guilt. Here’s how:
Eat it. Eating foods that make you feel guilty, over time, can reduce your guilt. Your brain will eventually get bored and you won’t continue to feel guilty when you eat that food. So bake yourself some cookies and eat them with a cup of milk, enjoy those french fries when you go out to your favorite restaurant, savor your favorite chocolate ice cream.
Have a list of mantras ready. It’s important to be able to repeat positive affirmations whenever guilt strikes, so having a list ready would be helpful. Say you to yourself: “I am in charge, not the fear or anxiety.” “Food is fuel, it’s not a moral issue.” “Food is meant to be pleasurable and enjoyable.” “I can trust my body to tell me when it’s had enough.”
Redefine healthy eating. Healthy eating has been tarnished by the diet culture to mean extremism, elimination, strict rules, and restrictions. But that’s not what it is, healthy eating means nourishment, flexibility, and satisfaction.
Unlearn negative beliefs. Another reason why you might be feeling so guilty about certain foods is the negative beliefs you have of them; so it’s important to put those beliefs aside. A cookie is not an addictive substance that will cause you weight gain and diabetes, a cookie is just a cookie when eaten in moderation. Try writing these negative beliefs down and associating them with the reason you think they are true. It might help you unlearn them faster.
Rethink healthy. Most people tend to have very black and white thoughts about food: Veggies are a healthy choice; ice cream is not. But in fact, what determines whether a food choice is healthy isn’t the food itself; it’s the intention or reasoning behind it. Let’s take this for example: if you are hungry and have 3 hours until dinner, eating carrots is not a healthy choice, as they don’t have any protein or fat, they will leave you hungry in half an hour’s time. There isn’t only one “healthier” food choice, and that’s another reason for you not to feel shame around certain food.
If you’ve tried these strategies and you’re still struggling, or you’d like more support, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian, she will be able to help you get rid of the guilt and learn how to eat without being restricted to a tough diet, and more importantly how to maintain a healthy eating system.