2 Ways To Banish Food Guilt (Or At Least Start To!)

There are two common obsessions I find lots of emotional overeaters suffer from. I know I did back in the day. They make every meal, every food choice a chore and take up so much damn mental energy that could be spent elsewhere! See if any of these strike a chord with you:

I used to be afraid to eat pizza because it was "bad." Guess who's havin' some tonight?!

1. Food guilt. Feeling bad or ashamed after eating something you think of as “bad.”
2. An internal battle between wanting to eat “healthy” (or even restrict to lose weight) and wanting to enjoy your food.

Here’s how I’ve found relief-plus inspiration stuff from other food-sanity experts:
1. Food guilt: Yes, it’s true that certain foods are naturally more nutritious than others. But balance and moderation in our lives and food choices are more important than perfection. Viewing foods as “bad” or “good” can really lead to some damaging behavior (crazy diets, orthorexia or restricting, anyone?). And it’s an example of what therapists call black and white thinking, which is a distortion of reality and can hurt our self-esteem and our bodies.

2. Internal battle between health and enjoyment: Part of this is solved when you get out of that black and white thinking mode we talked about above. But if you’re the type that needs some sort of rule, I’ve heard a lot of dietitians recommend an 80-20 attitude. That means 80 percent of what you eat can be those nutritious foods that you know are best for your body, and 20 percent can be more frivolous stuff like sweets and chips and whatever else. Michelle May, M.D., author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat tweeted this the other day, and I thought it was a good reminder that food can be a way to take care of yourself and treat yourself right, rather than a source of punishment or guilt:

When you’re preparing food for yourself, make it as nice as if you were serving it to someone special-because you are!

I took that advice and made turkey meatball stew last night. What’d you have for dinner?


[photo via accent on eclectic]

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