Here are four ways to overcome food guilt and shame to cultivate a better relationship with food once and for all:
Because food is a huge part of our social lives, it’s not realistic to skip happy hours, birthdays, weddings and almost every event. If you catch yourself feeling guilt or shame, first come up with a compassionate response: “It’s OK that I ate in front of the TV after dinner.” Then reaffirm your commitment to your goals: “Tomorrow, it’s really important for me to not eat in front of the TV. After dinner, I’ll brush my teeth and go to bed.”
We have certain beliefs about food, but our beliefs aren’t always facts. I suggest writing a list of your beliefs about food, your body and exercise, such as “pizza makes you fat” or “white carbs are bad.” Then dismantle all those beliefs.
“Where is that belief rooted — in fact or is it some arbitrary belief made up by diet culture?” Take your thoughts to paper in this way and discover what is and isn’t true, working with a trainer like us that’s a qualified food coach if you need help.
“If you are truly healthy, you’re not stressing about what you are eating,” Nohling says. I recommend writing down the things that, at your core, you want to live by. Then when you second-guess your food choices and guilt or shame starts to creep in, recall your values. If ordering chicken parm because it’s what you want, then own it, even if your friend orders a salad because he’s “trying to be healthy.”
“Dieting isn’t helpful. Those external rules are what grows shame the most,” Fred says. But he understands that going on your own is scary. Because of this, intuitive eating can be a powerful tool.
I suggests three things to start this practice:
1. Most of the time, eat when you’re hungry.
2. Balance your plate. You can still have pizza night, but consider adding a salad for more veggies or making sure you have a protein.
3. Savor your meal. Eat off of a plate or bowl and notice the texture and tastes of each bite. (Hint: Turning off the TV helps.)
Try to shift your perspective when food guilt attempts to rob you of living your fullest life.
“What are you going to remember a year, three years, five years, 10 years down the road?” “You will never remember the food you didn’t eat or the number of calories you consumed or the run you did. But you will remember the experiences you had and the people you engaged with.”