Eating food makes you feel happy, connected, and satisfied in addition to feeding your body. But for many people who feel guilty or ashamed about their diet, it can instead set off unfavourable feelings. It is crucial to understand these feelings and their sources. We don’t quickly get rid of guilt. It is crucial to be patient because it takes time for our brains to change their perception. Food guilt can eventually result in disordered eating patterns that are bad for your physical and mental health. In the end, it prevents you from living your life to the fullest and from truly appreciating your food and all of its functions. (Also read: Foods that cause Depression: Nutritionist offers insights )
Stefanie Michele, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, shared ways to deal with food guilt on her Instagram post.
One reason we experience food guilt is that we truly believe that foods are “bad” or “unhealthy.” This black-and-white narrative has been drilled into us by diet culture. Education around the failure rate of diets, the negative health implications of dieting and weight stigma, and diet culture’s role in the oppression of marginalized groups can help reduce food guilt by introducing another side of the story.
Fear and avoidance fuel food guilt. The more we are afraid of something (ie. a certain food, eating certain amounts of food, gaining weight, etc) the more it creates “fear energy” in our minds and we believe we have to avoid it to stay safe. Exposing yourself to these fears and challenging them head-on can help increase your confidence and safety around foods you fear.
3. Replacement Thoughts
Most of us have autopilot thoughts that support food guilt. When you eat something (or eat “too much” of something), you might automatically think commonly repeated phrases like, “I’m so bad” “that will go straight to my hips” or “I’ll be better tomorrow.” Intentionally redirect thoughts of food guilt to another destination. Instead, create mantras like “that food was delicious” or “I am allowed to enjoy food” to replace the thoughts of food guilt whenever they arise.
4. Lightness & Humor
Sometimes, injecting a little lightness into the situation is useful. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the drama of food thoughts or what if it wasn’t that serious.
5. Emotional Differentiation
Do you struggle with anxiety? Food guilt can sometimes be a manifestation of anxiety and worry. Is your brain looking for something to latch onto so that it can spin and stay relevant? Try separating actual food guilt from anxiety and see if that helps create some detachment from it.
Food guilt exists when we think we could have done better or believe that it is our moral obligation to control our food. What if you surrendered that control? When you truly give in to the diet recovery process, micromanagement becomes irrelevant. Try letting go of the control to focus on acceptance and self-compassion instead.
If food guilt is significantly impacting the quality of your life or taking up too much of your mental space, it might be a good time to enlist the support of an anti-diet dietician, therapist or coach. If you’ve read this far, chances are that your intrusive food thoughts are impacting your life in a way that may call for outside support.
Follow more stories on Facebook & Twitter