Food Should Not Equal Guilt

Eating food should never be associated with guilt or shame, good or bad. It is unfortunate that we are, at times, made to feel guilty about eating foods that wouldn’t be getting a 5 star health rating.  Packets of food are labeled ‘guilt free’ or described as a ‘guilty pleasure’. Why should we feel guilty about eating something pleasurable? Why should an everyday, essential activity such as eating make us feel guilty?  Social media doesn’t help either. Instagrammers only posting pics of organic, natural, homemade, sugar free foods portraying an image that a piece of chocolate would never pass their lips. It’s time that we accept and learn that yes we can have our cake and eat it too – without the guilt attached.

Here are some tips to help avoid food guilt trips:

Stop the ‘diet’ mentality. Feeling guilty about eating food often stems from eating foods that are ‘not allowed’ on the diet. This could be eating bread when on a low carb diet or eating cheese when on the paleo diet. If you don’t follow a diet there won’t be any banned foods. If you take the approach of balance and moderation of all foods there won’t be any guilt from eating food from the forbidden list because there won’t be one. There won’t be ‘good’ foods or ‘bad’ foods. They will all be just food.

Whatever food you enjoy eating make it a pleasurable experience. Take the time to serve some cake on a beautiful plate and sit down at the table to enjoy it without any distractions. Don’t eat icecream from the tub, enjoy the experience of eating it by putting it in a small bowl and sitting down in your favorite place to eat it.

Savour the food. If you enjoy eating it make sure you do actually enjoy eating it. If you enjoy getting a facial you would want the therapist to take their time and you wouldn’t want to be distracted by a TV blaring or your phone ringing. The same goes when eating pleasurable foods. Make sure you eat slowly to make it last. Eat it without being distracted by the TV or phone or computer. Taste every mouthful of food. Think about how it’s making you feel. Enjoy the feeling in your mouth. Actually enjoy eating it. If you get half way through and you are no longer enjoying eating it, maybe it’s time to stop?

If you are trying to eat a healthier diet but find yourself eating food that wouldn’t get a high five from Pete Evans that is ok. No need to feel guilty about it. It doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthier foods for the rest of the day. Make sure you actually enjoyed eating it and move on. No guilt required. You don’t need to assess every food you put in your mouth. Not every food has to be an A+ food choice. Take a step back and look at the entire week of eating – aim to have a balanced intake over the whole week. If your food choices haven’t been as nutritious as you would like them to be well that’s ok, you can try and incorporate more nutritious foods into your diet next week.

You may be a bad person if you steal from your neighbour, rob a bank or are cruel to animals, but you are not a bad person if you choose a packet of twisties over an apple. Food is food. Whether it is high in fat, low in fat, high in sugar, it is still only food.  Food is food and it’s only people’s perception of food that changes. One person may look at a chocolate cake and think of it as fattening or bad whereas another may think of it as a celebration, enjoyment or tasty.

Life is about balance and pleasure and enjoyment. It can take time to find the right balance for you but save the feelings of guilt for when you forget to call your Mum on her birthday not when you have enjoyed a slice of cake.

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