Have you ever experienced ‘food shaming and guilt?’ It’s not uncommon for most people but it is a really unhealthy habit to form and can cause a lot of problems not only physical but especially, psychological. Food is meant to be enjoyed in moderation and to be used for energy similar to filling your gas tank in your car with the proper fuel so that your car will run properly and not break down well, it’s the same for you body give it the right foods and it’ll run smoothly for a long time. Even though it is a bit harder to figure out the right formula/foods for your body especially, if you’re not connected to your body and its’ needs.
Have you ever had a piece of chocolate cake, ice cream or any dessert and immediately felt guilty about it after you ate it? Then your thoughts spiral into shaming thoughts about how fat you are while you simultaneously touch your stomach to see if it got bigger because, for sure you think it must have? Did you then think you’ll never do it again? Not ever! That you’ll even do some extra cardio at the gym to make up for it? The next minute you grab your phone to text your personal trainer or friend to get another workout in ASAP? You go on to swear to yourself and possibly even God that you will only eat 500-800 calories the next 2 days to make for it. This is what I’d like to refer to as food shaming and guilt but don’t feel like you are alone in it because most if not all of us are guilty of doing it at some point in our lives at the very least a couple of times. I must say though that it is probably one of the worst things you can do to yourself and, it sabotages all the hard work that you’ve spent weeks on to reach your health and or fitness goals. Being healthy and fit is not just about the body but about the mind as well. To berate yourself because you ate something you deem as ‘bad’ is a very harmful habit to develop and it’s a practice that really should only be saved for certain religions (but truly not even those) more importantly though it should not be saved for foods. Food is just food after all, it’s for good life sustaining energy not to use for self loathing or hate. Of course there are foods that I personally think should never be consumed ever but because I think of them as being ‘fake’ overly processed foods that are not life giving but instead deplete the body of energy. Think of foods as our energy source that give us vitality and sustain us through our days. If we eat the wrong kinds for our bodies we will not feel good, get moody, tired and not have the patience we need for our families and friends.
So, why do we do this to ourselves? Why in the world would you even eat something that you think is that bad for you? What’s the point in eating it if you aren’t going to just enjoy the shit out of it while you eat it and move on. If you are going to feel that badly about eating it then, just don’t eat it. Think about it before you do it and ask yourself why you want to make yourself feel bad. Is there something else you’re not dealing with in your life, boredom, marital problems, self worth, unhappy at your job, whatever it is it’s better to just deal with it head on then seek comfort in food because it’s fleeting and in the end you are left feeling more miserable than you did before you ate it. The comfort you get from it isn’t worth it because you self sabotage yourself and end up yo-yoing your good healthy eating efforts.
I want to preface what I just said with the following – there is nothing wrong with eating a good dessert or pizza made with good quality ingredients, in moderation. For some reason it seems that people like to go from one extreme to the other without ever finding balance. You don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorite ‘cheat’ foods, you just have to find balance and moderation. Life is about balance and moderation in all things and not extremes. That goes for your favorite ‘cheat’ foods and desserts as well. It’s okay to enjoy a good decadent brownie once in a while or ice cream made from good quality ingredients but to binge creates a negative cycle leading to food shaming and guilt. So, don’t deprive yourself of something you really want on occasion because then you’ll end up binging on it later. Think of it as a 90/10 rule, I used to say 80/20 and for some people that works but for others it’s more of a 90/10 rule depending on what your health and fitness goals are. Every body is different and if you feel you get out of control with these types of foods then it might be best to not eat much of them. It’s important though to find what foods work best for you and what ratio of macronutrients your body needs.
Years ago when I would do any type of extreme dieting and deprive myself of certain foods that I really wanted I found myself thinking about food all the time and binging on one thing or another then feeling the guilt shame creep up. It was not a good feeling, I would get so mad at myself and feel sad that I didn’t have more control over my impulses it was quite awful as a matter of fact and left me feeling sad and annoyed. Years of trial and error lead me on this journey of learning how to just take it easier on myself and enjoy the foods I liked in moderation but with whole good quality ingredients like real butter sugar and cream, I found that I was much happier and really didn’t crave them or obsess anymore. Now when I want something I just eat a bit of it and I’m fine. I don’t feel the need to gorge myself on it and I don’t feel guilty about it anymore. My body has also leaned out a bit more and I look better than ever even as I am getting older.
One key change was my mental state, when you love yourself and realize that food is about energy and enjoyment not guilt and shame it makes a big difference in how you feel about yourself, your confidence and overall happiness. With that said I don’t advocate going out and eating a ton of pizza, desserts or drinking a ton of wine because you think that’s what your body wants or needs because if you are truly connected to your body you’ll know that those things will deplete the vitality of your body. The body needs a balanced intake of good quality macronutrients- carbs, proteins and fats for your individual needs. This ratio will be different for each person and yes, it takes time, perhaps some help from a professional and, effort to figure it out.
It’s time to stop feeling shame and guilt about food and start feeling good about yourself, about the strengths that you have individually to offer the world, that are unique to your person. Don’t be afraid to eat real foods either, just cut out the artificial packaged and processed crap, you’ll feel better overall, your body will start to look better and, when you do eat that dessert you won’t feel so bad about it not to mention, you’ll actually stop having cravings and won’t binge anymore.