I love personal development, so much. I am always trying to be the best version of myself and help others live up to their best selves. But with that can come a lot of guilt if we’re not meeting our expectations for the rules we’ve set for ourselves; and most of the time I see this come up for people with: food! Food guilt is so common, but so unnecessary, and often a large part of why we feel “stuck” in cycles we can’t seem to break. And it’s simple to see why; I love clean eating, but that doesn’t mean the alternative is “dirty.” I’ve found that all it takes to ditch the food guilt, for good, is a few simple mindset shifts.
Food should be fun .
Doughnuts on a bright Saturday morning. Delicious, creamy hot chocolate on a cold night. A big bowl of pasta handed to us by a loving family member. These foods are all fun, and pleasurable, and delicious on emotional levels as well as flavorful, but many of us feel terrible after we eat them. Not because of the sugar content as much as the guilt they bring us! We think, ok, I’ll have to run HOW MANY miles to work this “bad” food off? This is where we shift our mindset. Doughnuts are not something to be shoved down and worried over. If you’re going to have one, savor it! Delight in each sprinkle, in each crispy corner. Notice the texture of the amazing cream filling. Remember the big picture. One treat or meal is a small part of your overall diet. When food becomes forbidden, we put all our attention on that. Instead of thinking of food as “good” or “bad,” reframe them to “everyday” foods and “sometimes” or “treat” foods.
All foods can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
If you love chocolate, pie, doughnuts, popcorn, don’t worry—they can be part of a healthy lifestyle! Of course, you don’t want to eat them all day, every day, but work towards finding a healthy balance between all or nothing. You won’t stick to the healthy choices if you feel like the treats can never come. It’s just not sustainable. And really, you wouldn’t feel good if you ate only one kind of food. So don’t stress that you’ll suddenly only want to eat chocolate if you have a treat.
If you struggle with keeping things in balance, the food isn’t the real issue.
When it comes to overeating, research has shown it isn’t the food itself that’s the issue—it’s the relationship WITH the food. If you feel like you can’t be in an “all or nothing” mentality, question your relationship with food; it shouldn’t be a struggle if there’s a healthy relationship both ways. No guilt, no judgment, just honest questions to yourself: Is this a body craving? Or an emotional craving or response?
Learn the practice of mindful eating.
Mindful eating is so powerful. It enhances your enjoyment of food. It helps you stress less and puts you in control. Research shows mindful eating helps improve feelings of self-control. This video is a great introduction to mindful eating but really, it’s all about just going slow and focusing on the food in front of you and not the stressful day you may have had. Be present and enjoy your food.
- Tap into your intuition—for eating.
You know the gut feelings you have that let you know when something is so right for you? You can hone that intuition muscle for food! Intuitive eating helps people develop a healthy relationship with food. You listen to what your body wants and needs based on hunger and fullness cues it readily gives you (we just learn to tune out over the years), eat mindfully, and focus on health, but gently. No strict rules. Just following what you, intuitively, need. This book is a great resource for those wanting to learn more.
And there you have it! I hope these tips help; life is meant to be enjoyed, just like food. So no guilt, you guys!