How to Deal With Big, Bad Food Guilt [guest post]

Do the Food Police in your head ever get loud?

Today I’m happy to say HealthyGirl.org reader Angie is back with a guest post. Her first time here, she wrote about hopping back and forth between different disordered behaviors that resonated with a lot of readers. This one, about food guilt, no doubt will too. xo…Sunny

I have Food Guilt. I have the voice of the Food Police ready to count calories, measure food, weigh my choices.But earlier this week I read a blog post by Tina from Carrots N Cake and I was so inspired by when Tina wrote that she had a moment where she decided to put the Food Guilt down and just enjoy the food because it was good. Wow.

It made me think about one of my all-time favorite/helpful booksIntuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. I ‘think’ I practice Intuitive Eating, but I still have a long way to go. I am making progress: This morning I was sitting with my cat, listening to her purr, and thinking about how I don’t have to have the Food Guilt. I really like healthy foods. I can eat anything (ice cream, pizza, donuts, whatever), but I choose not to eat the foods that my body rejects. (I have celiac disease and within a few minutes of eating anything containing gluten like regular bread or pasta, I begin to have the most horrible, uncontrollable gas and bloating.) I used to think, a few bites won’t hurt, but a few bites do hurt. For me, I either get gassy or go to a binge (which brings on more hurt).

Bottom line: I don’t want to feel bad, so I decided that while I can eat anything, I don’t want to eat some things. The Food Police and Food Guilt can talk for hours, but I don’t have to listen. The only thing I need to listen to is my body. If it’s craving something, then I can eat it. I don’t have to weigh, measure, obsess. My body tells me what it needs, I just need to listen. And then the Food Guilt evaporates.

The most helpful take-away I got from the book Intuitive Eating is to challenge the Food Police. I extrapolate this Food Police idea to include the Size Police, Calorie Police, Scale Police, Fat Talk Police, Comparing-Myself-to-Everyone Police. All of these police forces bombard my daily thoughts. I hear echoes of these thoughts when I talk with girlfriends. I see images that trigger these forces on TV and in magazines. I feel the pressure of these forces when I am stressed. However, since reading (and re-reading) Intuitive Eating, I am more aware of these forces and am better able to combat them.

Thanks again to Angie for sharing about the negative food and body thoughts so many of us have had to battle. One of the most important things I did that helped me banish food guilt was to stop dieting. How do you guys fight these forces?

[photo: AndyWilson]

6 Responses to How to Deal With Big, Bad Food Guilt [guest post]

  1. Great post! I love the idea that the thoughts in head can range from Food Police to Size Police to Compare-Myself-to-Everyone Police. And beautifully said – “I hear echoes of these thoughts when I talk to girlfriends.” I haven’t read Intuitive Eating yet, but will add it to my list once I’m done with Sunny’s book!

    I gave up dieting almost two years ago, and it has made a world of difference in my self-acceptance. It’s funny how dieting still comes to mind as the answer for me in many different situations. Bad day at work? I’ll start a diet. Rejected by a guy? I’ll start a diet. Feeling out of control about anything? I’ll start a diet.

    It’s such ass-backwards thinking because I have never been a “successful” dieter. Never have I gotten to goal weight. I’m actually thankful for this now, because every time the idea of dieting comes back to me, I get to ask myself, “Really? And how well did that work for you last time?!” Reading recovery and positive body image blogs has really helped me to remember this more quickly each time the idea comes up now. So thanks for reminding me that although I can’t make the Police disappear completely, I can tell them to butt out!

    • Sunny says:

      Being able to ask yourself that question—”Did dieting work for me last time?”—is so important and is evidence that you are not living in the world of cognitive distortions like magical thinking! xo…Sunny

      • Angie says:

        I love the idea of saying ‘Did this work for me last time?’ If I remember how I felt after trying to soothe with food, I remember that IT DOES NOT WORK and I should use the time I would normally spend binging/obsessing on something more nurturing.

  2. I recently stopped justifying what I ate. No more “i’m eating this indulgent food item, which is ok because I eat healthy foods most of the time.” I just sat and enjoyed the food, and realized I was lucky to buy food I enjoy.

    • Angie says:

      I love this comment. When I try to balance/bargin by saying, ‘I can eat this because…’ things go downhill. I have to remember to be mindful and aware so I make the best choice for this moment… It is hard. I have had some not-so-great days this week, but things are getting better. Using positive self talk and affirmations have helped me this week as I have not binged and worked through uncomfortable moments. I think we need a little victories post :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.