Does food guilt hold you back from enjoying your favorite foods?
Do you berate yourself for eating “treat” foods?
I’d bet that you aren’t alone in experiencing guilt and shame around food. I know I’ve experienced my fair share of food guilt over the years.
I can still remember the grip that food guilt had on me if I polished a pint of Jeni’s ice cream or ate spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar. Looking back, here’s what I would tell my younger self about recognizing, reframing, and releasing food guilt.
Where Does Food Guilt Come From?
It’s empowering to uncover where food guilt comes from…
Food guilt comes from the belief that there is a “right” and “wrong” way to eat.
Eat right = guilt-free. Eat wrong = guilt.
In other words, make the “good” food choice and you’re free from guilt. But make the “bad” food choice and you’re carrying guilt the rest of the day. This weight can be exhausting over time! Can you relate?
Now here’s the thing: you weren’t born with the belief that eating potato chips is BAD and eating an apple makes you a good person. This is something you learned from diet culture. The good news? It’s something that you can unlearn, too!
How to Stop Feeling Guilty After Eating
This process doesn’t happen overnight. And it might feel uncomfortable to change the way you think about food. But it IS worth it to reclaim eating ice cream with your kiddos on a hot summer day without being gripped by food guilt.
Step 1. Recognize.
Like any feeling, you overcome food guilt by confronting it, not running from it. So the FIRST step to stopping food guilt is noticing it.
Ask yourself these questions to create more awareness of your feelings and eating habits:
- What food triggered guilt?
- Do I have a rule around this particular food?
- Where did I learn that this food was “bad”?
In this step, think of yourself as a scientist. You’re gathering data so that you can learn from it and experiment with it later.
Experiment with giving yourself unconditional permission to mindfully enjoy the foods that trigger guilt. Over time, that food will lose its power over you.
Related resource: I have an entire step dedicated to helping you release food rules in my free 5-Step Guide to Eating Intuitively.
Step 2. Reframe.
After you identify what triggered food guilt, reframe your thinking. Here are some compassionate reframes you could insert in this step:
- No single food will make me suddenly gain weight.
- All foods can be a part of a healthy dietary pattern.
- Food has no moral virtual.
- I am nourishing my body by NOT restricting it.
- Food is allowed to be fun.
- I am allowed to eat (insert trigger food). I am no longer limited by food rules.
- There is no such thing as a “perfect” diet.
These balanced reframes help you find stable middle ground with nutrition versus being caught in the extremes of dieting or binge eating.
If this step is hard for you, base your self-talk on what you’d tell a child or friend.
Step 3. Release.
Last but not least, recognize that food guilt does not serve you. Seriously – when is the last time that guilt made you feel any better about a situation? Probably, never.
Feeling guilty won’t change the past. It will only make you feel worse in the present.
Food guilt steals the joy of eating, chips away at your self-esteem, and adds unnecessary pressure to food choices.
It’s time to proclaim: “Guilt doesn’t belong on my plate!”
One of the most powerful breakthroughs that you can make on your intuitive eating journey is the ability to eat and MOVE ON. I know this step is easier said than done. It comes with patience, practice, and compassion.
Ditch Food Guilt to Stop the Diet Cycle
When you stop feeling guilty, you stop fueling the yo-yo diet cycle. That’s why it’s so powerful to recognize, reframe, and release food guilt!
Picture this! I can see you now…
You’re out to eat with 2 of your best friends and dessert is ordered for the table.
It’s a rich chocolate lava cake with cold vanilla ice cream on top. The ice cream is melting down the sides of the warm cake.
You’re mindfully enjoying a bite of the dessert when it dawns on you. This is the FIRST time you’re truly present while eating dessert. In the past, you would have been counting the calories or berating yourself for eating sugar.
But TONIGHT, you’re enjoying the company of best friends and good food without any guilt. You have the biggest smile on your face as you realize this milestone in your food freedom journey.
Now THAT’S the picture you want to see, isn’t it?
For more support in making this vision become YOUR reality, schedule your free discovery call. We will discuss your next steps on your food freedom journey!