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Food and Guilt

Do you eat a food you consider ‘bad’ and love every moment of eating it and then get that dreaded feeling of ‘guilt’ and feeling disgusted in yourself?

So many things to consider, and I’m far from a psychologist, so please, if you feel like you need to see someone qualified please do.

We have been conditioned over the years to consider those foods higher in calories to be bad for us. If it isn’t a fruit, veg or chicken and isn’t full of nutritional goodness, then should we really be eating it?

Well HELL YES we should. We forget that food isn’t just for fuel. Food is there for us to enjoy and appreciate that we have these choices and that we can enjoy foods, which yes maybe calorific, but are also super damn tasty! Why should we feel bad or guilty for enjoying them?

The relationship we build with food starts from a super young age from how our parents behave around food (was your mum always on a diet or did you always have the finish our plate before being allowed dessert?), how they talk about food, the things they tell us about food, how our friends are, now we also have the influence of social media which can be both good and bad. It is not uncommon for people to have this struggling relationship because of our experiences.

Fad diets can bring about new eating processes, habits and beliefs too which may not allow you to enjoy your food to the max. So why do we get his guilt?

A binge and restrict cycle can be to blame and this is through no fault of our own, but we are likely to blame ourselves. This can create a feeling of failure and that we haven't got the right will power, that is completely and utterly not true. When we restrict foods it can create a higher ‘need’ for these banned foods. So we are ‘good’ all day and then that urge to eat higher amounts of our restricted food and end up binging on them. I have done some mad detoxes in my time which caused me to crave even more food than I did before I even began and just made me feel so much worse by the end of it. By the way, your liver does the detoxing for you so please do not waste your money or time.

Something that may help could be to not restrict any foods and learn to have them as part of your daily or weekly foods. Having them as part of your everyday life can prevent you from craving that food. It removes that taboo around food. If you schedule it in for your dinner or after lunch or as one of your snacks it can reduce that worry about that food you have mixed feelings about.

Emotional feelings can be really unhelpful when it comes to how we behave around food, or how we feel towards food. Often if we have had a day that has seemed more crazy than normal, we can drive past the shop on our way home and buy those comforting foods. Learning to manage stress in a more helpful way to manahe our food and feelings, such as a walk, breathing, exercise, listening to a podcast, meditation, having a nap, I love to colour and take my mind of it. Addressing that feeling of stress and finding why, and where we can reduce that, is a more constructive way. I’m also not going to say this is easy. Implementing a new habit like this can take time. So please be kind to yourself and accept this isn't always going to smooth.

If weight loss is your goal and you love crisps or chocolates, you can still lose that body fat in a gradual sustainable manner. You can still hit those targets and this way you are winning at life!

Learning to overcome such challenging thoughts or behaviours can be really tough and will take time. Here are some tips that may help –

1. Avoid setting rules around food. It can be a tough habit to rid of but can be very freeing

2. Keeping a food diary may help (either using pen and paper, myfitnesspal , nutracheck or any other way) can help you understand the energy value of foods better, allow you to see patterns in habits you may have, manage your food a bit better, etc. But if you have obsessive food related habits then this may not be for you

3. Have your favourite food every day. It can reduce the stigma around that certain food. It may help to buy it ready portioned out or to buy it and portion it out in bag or boxes

4. Keep a diary in general. Sometimes our feelings dictate our eating, so addressing that feeling or finding a way to manage that stress will be really helpful (I have a colouring book and about 3 books on the go to distract me, because believe me I am far from perfect)

5. If you know that you are likely to stop of at the shops on the way home, then drive a different way. Yes it may take longer, but not any longer than driving that normal way home and stopping by the shops and buying food

6. It can be helpful to avoid using the word 'treat' around foods, or such as friday fish and chip night. It can glorify these foods. In our house we just call them sweet foods or actually just what they are.

7. Have your chocolate or crisps or sausages or bacon or wine!!

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