As the holiday season is upon us.. so are the number of holiday parties we find ourselves attending. We are getting together with family and friends and celebrating with gifts, drinks, and copious amounts of christmas cookies. This all sounds fabulous right?? That it is…Until you aren’t focusing on spending time with your family and friends because all you can think about is food- I shouldn’t have ate that- Should i eat that? -Did i do enough cardio to earn this?- I’ll burn it off tomorrow, and so on and so forth. This blog post is about FOOD GUILT.
Food Guilt is a topic that i can relate to personally and I’m sure many of you reading this blog post can relate to as well. Guilt, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary is defined as: “responsibility for a crime or for doing something bad or wrong.” In this case, this definition can be applied to this term “food guilt” .. You feel as though you have violated some moral standard by consuming so called “bad” foods and the guilt ensues. Society today has labeled foods as “good” and “bad” and when we allow ourselves to consume these foods that society tells us are “bad” -this can cause us to feel overwhelming feelings of guilt. These feelings can range from “oh crap, i shouldn’t have eaten that” to feeling “worthless” or to the extreme of binging and purging.
As i said, food guilt is something i have definitely experienced. Following this last competition prep, i started a reverse diet. I was determined to reverse diet “successfully” (whatever that means) and to stick to my reverse dieting macros. Whenever i hit my macros perfectly there were no feelings of guilt. However, if i ate something that did not fit my macros perfectly, or if i didn’t track, all of a sudden, i had all these negative thoughts and feelings. I would feel terrible about myself for not hitting my macros. I would tell myself “oh, lauren you shouldn’t have done that”, now you are going to have to eat less (insert specific food here) tomorrow, “wow, you look super fluffy now-wheres your self control”, well there’s more cardio for you to do tomorrow-and so on and so forth. i would literally punish myself and be so preoccupied with my “mistake” for days and days because i felt so terrible about what i had eaten.
Another example would be going out to eat with my boyfriend. Every Sunday, my boyfriend and I would have our date night. I would stress about where we were going, what i would eat, what could i order so that i could make it fit my macros, what couldn’t i have because it was “bad” and didn’t fit my macros. At one time, i even said no to Cheesecake Factory (my favorite restaurant OF ALL TIME) because the macros weren’t listed online and i wanted to avoid feeling guilty. I said no to drinking wine because i didn’t want to “waste” my macros. I couldn’t enjoy the time with boyfriend because i was too stressed about the numbers and preoccupied with these feelings of guilt that i had if i felt i had overate or ate something i shouldn’t have.
What i want everyone to realize is that food guilt is NOT normal and food guilt is NOT healthy. It is indeed a type of disordered eating. Think back to when you were a kid… Did you feel guilty for eating cookies or for eating that macaroni and cheese for dinner? Most likely the answer is no. You ate the foods you wanted in moderation. Why should being an adult, college student, and/or bikini competitor be any different?
When i started paying attention to my thoughts and noticing these negative feelings associated with food it really made me step back and realize that some thing needed to change. If you are experiencing food guilt, i would recommend taking a step back to reflect. Is this really something you want to experience the rest of your life every time you eat something “bad” or eat an extra cookie at the holiday party?? If not and you want to be at peace with food… Keep reading.
Here are a few simple tips that i have found to be helpful with limiting those guilty feelings associated with my food choices:
- Say NO to Food Labeling. Stop labeling foods as “good” “bad” “healthy” or “unhealthy” – there is no such thing. All foods are acceptable in moderation. As a nutrition major, that really resonated with me. Just as you shouldn’t label other people you shouldn’t label your food either.
- Moderation. All foods are acceptable in moderation. You want a christmas cookie-have one. You want to have REAL ice cream instead of that imitator bs-have it. Eat and enjoy that ice cream and/or cookie until you are satisfied. Enjoy the foods you love and don’t make those foods off limits- it will only make you want them more which could potentially and/or eventually lead to binging.
- Accept The Past and Move On. So you overate the night before or you had too much wine and ice cream with your girlfriends… The past is the past and you can’t do anything to change it now. Best not to dwell on things that you cannot change.The past is in the past and it’s time to leave it there.
- Don’t Get Caught In The Cycle. Don’t get caught in the restrict -> binge -> guilt ->restrict (repeat) cycle.. If your feelings of guilt cause you to binge leaving you feeling guilty about your food choices.. refuse to get caught up in restricting your food choices the next day or doing excess cardio. This goes back to Tip #3…. Accept that the past is the past and start fresh. Don’t allow the vicious cycle to continue.
- Listen To Your Body. Your body knows what it wants/needs and it will tell you. Sometimes we get so caught up in hitting our macros and or dieting that we do not listen to our body’s hunger signals. If you are hungry, EAT! Your body will thank you for rewarding it with those essential vitamins and minerals and foods that provide your body with the energy it needs. If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat.
- Enjoy your Food. This is, in my opinion, one of the most important. Savor your food and eat slowly.. don’t shovel your food down in front of the TV. How many times have we eaten lunch, while doing something else, only to look down and realize your foods all gone without you realizing it? Enjoy the textures, smells, and eat with all your senses.It’s hard to feel guilty about something when you are taking the time to enjoy it.
This holiday season, i hope that everyone is able to enjoy time their time with their family and friends without being preoccupied with these feelings of food guilt. However, if you find yourself struggling with this, remember, you are not alone. Try to keep the above tips in mind and focus on what is really important-spending time with the people that really matter to us. No, getting rid of this “food guilt” is not easy, but it is worth it. Choosing to focus on my relationship with food was one of the best things I’ve ever done. When i go home for Christmas, and to Colorado with my boyfriend’s family, i know that i will be able to enjoy the food but i will be able to enjoy the time with my family and friends more.
Please don’t hesitate to send me an email or message me on social media if you find yourself struggling with this and need someone to talk to. Thanks so much for reading, be sure to comment/like/subscribe/ and let me know what else you would like to see in future posts.