How to stop feeling guilty around food

Do you often feel guilty around food?

Does thinking about what you ‘should‘ and ‘shouldn’t’ eat take up a lot of your time and head-space?

Feeling guilty around food isn’t fun, and it certainly takes the joy out of eating.

So in this post, I’m explaining why food guilt WON’T help you lead a healthier life.

Plus, I’m sharing four steps to help you move beyond food guilt to reclaim some peace of mind.

Watch or read below:

Why feeling guilty around food won’t make you healthier

How many times do you notice yourself saying things like: “I shouldn’t eat that it’s bad….” or “I wish I hadn’t eaten that…” or “I can’t be around ice-cream or I’ll eat too much of it…” ?

Our body conscious and diet obsessed culture encourages and normalises feeling guilty around food.  Those who eat ‘good’ foods are held up as morally superior to those who don’t

But food is not ‘bad’ or ‘sinful’ and your worth as a human being isn’t determined by your food choices.

Making you feel guilty around food is a tactic used by diet companies to keep you stuck on the dieting merry go round.

BUT don’t be fooled into thinking that feeling guilty around food will promote a healthy relationship with food or your body.

Instead, food guilt and obsession contribute to disordered eating and negative body image.

How to stop feeling guilty around food

If you’re constantly feeling guilty around food, what can you do? Well, if you’ve been living with food guilt for some time, there isn’t a quick fix – the truth is that it’s going to take time to unlearn food guilt.

BUT, with consistent effort, there are some mind-set shifts and habit changes you can make to stop you feeling guilty around food over time.  I’ve got four to share with you:

Accept that food isn’t your enemy

We all need to eat. There is no such thing as going ‘cold turkey’ when it comes to food (unlike with smoking, drugs or drinking). We need to eat to survive. Whenever you feel guilty for experiencing hunger, you’re denying yourself a basic human need. Food isn’t your enemy, it’s essential.

Accept that eating can involve pleasure

Eating for pleasurable reasons is seen by diet culture as ‘sinful’ or ‘bad’.  As humans, we enjoy pleasurable experiences, which is natural and normal.

Accept that sometimes you are going to eat for pleasure. That doesn’t mean to say that everything you eat is just for pleasure and that you’re going to live on nothing but ice-cream!

Sometimes you will eat for fuel – to give you the energy that you need. Food exists for both purposes – fuel and pleasure – it’s all a question of balance.

Remember, foods have different nutritional NOT moral values

Each time you label a food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, you’re tying your worth to what you eat. Food doesn’t have morals. Yes, it has different nutritional values. But don’t associate these with your worth.

Focus on food freedom, not denial

Feeling guilty around food goes hand in hand with restricting foods. The problem with guilt and denial is that it normally makes you crave that food more.

Instead allow yourself freedom around food. Don’t deny yourself anything. Give yourself the freedom to choose.

Choice is powerful – you can choose to eat something or not. Restriction and denial take away your power because they come from a place of mistrusting yourself.

So learn to trust in your food choices by tuning into what your body wants. Sometimes it will want food for fuel. Other times it will want food for pleasure.

Remember that just because your body craves a pleasurable food doesn’t mean you won’t be able to stop yourself gorging on it! In fact, by allowing yourself food freedom, you’re less likely to binge on foods. It’s restriction and denial (which is fueled by guilt) that normally result in bingeing.

I know that it’s difficult to deal with food guilt, so please be kind to yourself while you’re working on this area. And if you’re struggling with an eating related illness that is affecting your health, please make sure that you get the support that you need.

I’d love to know how you deal with feeling guilty around food, and if the strategies I’ve shared have helped.  Please leave a comment below.

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