How to Avoid Food Guilt
According to Intuitive Eating, 45% of adults report feeling guilty after eating something they enjoy. Does this surprise you?
How did we get to this place, where food and guilt are so closely intertwined? In a country obsessed with health, it's fascinating that this (unhealthy) perspective has become so normalized. Feeling guilty about eating food you like is an epidemic fueled by both diet and wellness culture. Where does this stem from? Maybe it's fear - a fear of disease or not being 'well enough.' Maybe it's weight stigma - that a changing body is subject to bias and discrimination, and the loss of some privilege. Maybe it's the critical and hurtful judgment from others. Maybe it's due to the fact that pleasure is still somewhat taboo. there's so much to unpack about the morality we apply to food.
Know that you have complete permission to eat pleasurable foods you enjoy. COMPLETE PERMISSION. An exploration of HAES, the non-diet approach and intuitive eating (where i got these numbers, BTW) and if possible, discussions with a team trained in the non-diet approach, might help you to unpack this further. You don't have to go at it alone.
The great irony is that eating with guilt doesn't allow for complete enjoyment. It's ok to eat pleasurable foods, but we are surrounded by messaging that suggests that instead, pleasure is conditional, and only for those who deserve it. Think about how prevalent this moralistic language is in marketing - sinful, indulgent, decadent, guilt-free, cheat day - or brands with words or imagery associated with goodness - like, halo top ice cream or 'lesser evil' popcorn or 'reduced guilt' from trader joes. How often does that language come up in causal conversation? How often do you notice guilty thoughts or black and white thinking? We cannot make changes without also having awareness of our thoughts.
This stat (that 45% of adults feel guilt) has even been reported as being much higher elsewhere. It's an epidemic - think of how it affects our children and the next generation. We must reframe.