"Girls developed eating disorders when our culture developed a standard of beauty that they couldn’t obtain by being healthy. When unnatural thinness became attractive, girls did unnatural things to be thin.”- Mary Pipher
Do you ever find that you eat something delicious but then feel GUILTY? Or that you look forward to eating a cake/brownie/biscuit but then feel DISGUSTING for having eaten it? Or perhaps that you eat one of your favourite stodgy, comfort meals, only to feel ANGRY at yourself for having given in and eaten this food?
Feeling guilt and shame around food is unfortunately extremely common. Many people that I work with feel bad for eating something delicious or something that they want to eat - because it is “unhealthy”, contains “too many calories” or is “bad”. However, feeling guilt and shame around food only ever leads to a dysfunctional relationship with food. Often these feelings of guilt then trigger a “what’s the point in trying to be healthy” mind-set or a thinking pattern which results in someone over-eating or bingeing on “naughty” or “bad” foods because they feel so guilty for having eaten one “unhealthy thing”. These feelings of guilt also set up a battle between a person and food, where food is something to be feared, avoided and restricted.
No food is inherently bad. Even eating unhealthy food sometimes is perfectly OKAY! What is important however is what you are thinking when you are eating this food. If you are savouring every mouthful and enjoying what you are eating - then there is no harm in eating anything sometimes! If however, you are eating the food thinking “this is so bad” / “I feel s guilty”/ “I’ll start my diet tomorrow” - this is when a problematic relationship with food can develop.
Diet culture encourages us to feel that some foods are “off-limits”, “naughty” or inherently “bad” - and yes it is true that some foods are nutritionally not as good for our bodies - but labelling them as being “naughty” or completely off-limits just makes them even more tempting and gives them more power over you. There’s a reason Eve ate that apple... as humans we crave what we can’t have. So banning foods completely or fearing foods, just doesn’t allow you to develop a healthy relationship with food.
Food should never bring up thoughts of guilt. Just as we don’t feel guilty about breathing or drinking water - eating should not make us feel guilty. If you would like to stop feeling guilty about eating food and would like to re-build your relationship with food, email firstname.lastname@example.org to book in a free consultation to find out how The Food Psychology Clinic can help you.
"Losing weight is not your life's work, and counting calories is not the call of your soul. You surely are destined for something much greater."