Do you ever feel guilty after eating? You’re not alone. A lot of people struggle with feelings of guilt and shame after eating something they “shouldn’t” have eaten. That’s why I’m sharing some tips for how to stop feeling guilty after eating. It’s time to break the cycle of guilt and reclaim your right to enjoy food without judgment. We’ll discuss why it’s important to let go of these feelings and some strategies to do it. Let’s get into it!
Why We Feel Guilty After Eating
If you’ve ever felt this way then you probably think you feel guilty because you’re doing something wrong. But where does that idea come from? The guilt we sometimes feel after eating stems from a combination of societal pressures and our own inner critic. Society bombards us with messages about what we should and shouldn’t eat, leaving us feeling guilty if we dare to indulge in a slice of cake or a bag of chips. Not only that, but diet culture has presented a specific body image that has sabotaged any possibility of most people having a naturally healthy relationship with food.
But here’s the thing: food is meant to be enjoyed. It’s meant to nourish us and bring us pleasure. So why do we feel guilty for doing something that is natural and necessary?
One reason is the “good vs. bad” mentality that we’ve been conditioned to adopt. We’re constantly told that certain foods are “good” and others are “bad”, leading us to believe that we are also “good” or “bad” based on what we eat. This black and white thinking sets us up for guilt and shame when we deviate from the so-called “good” foods or a “healthy diet.”
Another reason we feel guilty after eating is the constant comparison to others. We see our friends and peers posting pictures of their perfectly balanced meals on social media, and we can’t help but feel inadequate in comparison. But guess what? Social media is a highlight reel. Not many people posts pictures of the time they ate an entire pizza by themselves or indulged in a pint of ice cream. We all have our moments of indulgence, and that’s okay.
So how can we break free from this guilt? It starts with challenging our beliefs about food. We need to let go of the idea that certain foods are inherently “good” or “bad”. Food is just food. It doesn’t have moral value. Once we reframe our thinking, we can start to enjoy our meals without guilt or judgment.
The Food Guilt Cycle: How to Break Free
The never-ending food guilt cycle goes a little something like this: You eat something you enjoy, you feel guilty about it, you vow to never eat it again, you resist the temptation for a while, and then, inevitably, you give in and eat it again, only to feel guilty all over again. It’s like a bad rom-com that plays on repeat.
Breaking free of this vicious cycle starts with recognizing that food is not the enemy. Yes, some food is healthier than other food, but a healthy diet isn’t all about nutrition. It’s also about how food impacts your mental health. It’s about overall wellness. That means that your eating experience impacts your overall happiness and health just as much as your happiness and health impact your eating experience. Emotional eating of “forbidden” foods is not a healthy habit, but consciously enjoying less healthy foods in harmony with regularly consuming healthier foods is a healthy habit.
Being mindful about what you’re eating, why you’re eating it, and the results it will have are important. Learning to control your thought processes around food and eating is also crucial. So let’s talk first about mindful eating.
Mindful Eating: Tips and Tricks for Savoring Every Bite
Mindful eating is about slowing down and savor every delicious bite with mindful eating. It allows you to fully experience the pleasure of eating and break free from the guilt that often accompanies it. But why is this important? It’s important because it’s a crucial step in how to stop feeling guilty after eating.
Think about how you typically eat. Do you eat in front of the TV, looking at your phone, on the go in the car, while working, or otherwise distracted? Most of the time we scarf down food fast without giving it a thought and then we are left unsatisfied, stuffed, and often feeling guilty. This is a problem for a couple of reasons. First, it’s really easy to overeat when you eat fast and you’re not paying attention to how you’re feeling. It takes time to start feeling the fullness cues and most of the time we’ve already inhaled too much food before our stomachs have the chance to gauge fullness and communicate that to the brain. Second, if you’re eating a less healthy food to treat yourself and you don’t take your time to savour it, you’ll probably want more or you’ll probably feel even more guilty because it was over too quickly, you barely even tasted it, and suddenly you think it wasn’t worth the calories.
Tips for Mindful Eating:
- Don’t eat in the car if you don’t absolutely have to. Wait until you get where you’re going.
- Put away your phone, turn off the TV, and get rid of all possible external sources of distraction.
- Take small bites and chew slowly. I’m talking sloth-like chewing here. Really savor the flavors and notice how the texture changes as you chew. Not only will this help you enjoy your meal more, but it will also aid in digestion.
- Engage all your senses while eating. Notice the vibrant colors on your plate, inhale the mouthwatering aroma, and appreciate the sound of a satisfying crunch. Eating should be a multisensory experience, so don’t let it go to waste! Take deep breaths and long pauses between bites. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but I promise there is a science to it!
- Listen to your body. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues. Eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied. This will help you develop a healthier relationship with food and prevent overeating. The best thing you can do is remind yourself that the food you have left once you start feeling full isn’t going anywhere. You can save the leftovers and eat them later when you feel hungry again.
By practicing mindful eating, you can transform your meals into a mindful meditation. So put down the fork, close your eyes, and take a moment to appreciate the incredible pleasure that food brings.
Self-Care Practices to Help Release Food Shame
Alright, folks, it’s time to take care of ourselves and release that pesky food shame! We all deserve to enjoy our meals without feeling guilty, so let’s dive into some self-care practices that will help us do just that.
It’s time to be kind to ourselves and recognize that we’re only human. I’ll be honest, I lean much closer to tough love than total acceptance on the spectrum of coaching personalities. I believe truth from others and honesty with ourselves are our best motivators for change. Trush isn’t always fun or comfortable, but it is always the answer. Still, I believe there is a need for self-compassion. That doesn’t mean not holding yourself accountable. It means being gentle with yourself when you’ve gone too far (for what fits your goals). Gentle doesn’t mean complacent. It just means reminding yourself that you deserve health and happiness and getting yourself back on track. We all have our moments of over indulgence, and that’s okay.
Exercise is not punishment for what we eat. It’s a celebration of what our bodies can do. Find an activity that you enjoy, whether it’s going for a run, taking a yoga class, or dancing like nobody’s watching. Focus on how amazing it feels to be active, rather than trying to burn off those calories. Trust me, your body and mind will thank you. But what does this have to do with guilt over food? More than you can imagine! When you’re full of negative thoughts about yourself, negative emotions emerge. Out of those negative emotions can easily come emotional eating and feelings of shame. Exercise releases happy hormones, builds confidence, and boosts your moods. Happy people do healthy things!
Treat yourself to some me-time. That looks different for everyone. Whatever makes you feel refreshed, take the time to do that regularly. Reading, hiking, a facial, whatever you enjoy. Indulge in activities that bring you joy and help you relax. Remember, taking care of yourself is just as important as nourishing your body.
Build a Positive Support System
You don’t need a whole hype team, just one person can do the job! Find people who uplift and inspire you, and distance yourself from those who bring you down. Surround yourself with friends who enjoy caring for their bodies, not punishing themselves. It’s much easier to create healthy eating habits when you surround yourself with people who have similar goals.
Dispelling Myths About ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Foods
Alright, friends, it’s time to set the record straight and dispel some of those pesky myths about “good” and “bad” foods. This is a big step in learning how to stop feeling guilty after eating!
Myth #1: Carbs are the devil incarnate.
False! Carbs are actually an important source of energy for our bodies. It’s all about choosing the right carbs, like whole grains and fruits, and enjoying them in moderation.
Myth #2: All fat is unhealthy.
Dangerously untrue. Our bodies actually need healthy fats to function properly, especially our brains. So go ahead and indulge in some avocado or a handful of nuts. Your body and brain will thank you.
Myth #3: Sugar is evil and must be banished.
Hold up! While excessive sugar consumption isn’t ideal, there’s no need to swear off sweetness completely. Treat yourself to a piece of dark chocolate or a small scoop of ice cream every now and then. Life’s too short to deprive yourself of all things sweet and you can still lose weight with sugar moderation if that’s your goal.
Myth #4: Organic is always better.
Well, it depends. While organic foods can be a great choice, it’s not the be-all and end-all. Don’t stress if you can’t afford to buy everything organic. Just focus on eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, regardless of whether they’re organic or not.
Myth #5: You have to eat a certain way to be healthy.
Not necessarily. While it is proven that more plant-based foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes) are the key to improving overall health, that doesn’t mean you have to follow a specific diet. It just means the most of those foods you eat, the better for health and weight loss.
Finding a Healthy Balance Between Indulgence and Moderation
Let’s talk about finding that sweet spot between indulgence and moderation when it comes to how to stop feeling guilty after eating. It’s all about striking a sort of balance (there’s no complete balance) that allows you to enjoy the foods you love without going overboard. Because let’s face it, if you try to force yourself to cut out things you love, your new desired habits won’t stick!
- Let go of the guilt associated with indulging in your favorite foods. Remember, it’s all about moderation. So if you want that slice of cake, go for it! Just make sure you’re also nourishing your body with plenty of plants. Teach yourself that having that slice of cake is not a loss of control, it’s a calculated decision to enjoy something, knowing that you will nourish your body in other ways the rest of the day.
- Practice portion control. Your food choices matter, for sure, but often even more important than the particular food you eat is the amount you eat of that food. Sure, that bag of chips might be irresistible, but next time try portioning out a small amount instead of devouring the whole thing. That way, you can satisfy your cravings without going overboard.
- Listen to your body. Learning to pay attention to hunger and fullness cues is a huge step toward food freedom. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re satisfied. Your body knows best, so trust it to guide you in finding that healthy balance.
So go ahead and enjoy your favorite indulgences, but also remember to nourish your body with nutrient-dense foods. Find that balance that works for you and embrace guilt-free eating. Cheers to a life of moderation and deliciousness!
Forgive Yourself: Moving Past Guilt and Focusing on Positive Habits
When you want to stop dwelling on those moments of indulgence and instead focus on developing positive habits that nourish our bodies and souls, keep these things in mind:
- Banish the word “cheat” from our vocabulary. There’s no such thing as cheating when it comes to food. Every meal is an opportunity to nourish ourselves and/or find joy in what we eat. So let’s reframe our thinking and see food as a source of pleasure and nourishment, rather than something to feel guilty about.
- Focus on the positive. Celebrate the times when you make healthy choices and honor your body’s needs. Acknowledge the moments when you listen to your hunger and fullness cues and make choices that make you feel good. By focusing on the positive, you’ll start to build a healthier relationship with food and yourself.
- Remember progress is not linear. We all have setbacks. That’s okay. Instead of beating yourself up, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Reflect on what led to your spiral and find strategies to avoid it in the future. Remember, every setback is a chance for growth.
There’s such a fine line between enjoying all kinds of food and abusing your body with food. It’s hard to have compassion for yourself without letting yourself get out of control. It really has to intentional and consistent learning of a different approach and practicing those healthy lifestyle habits regularly. Your natural response to anything will be the easiest and most pleasurable route, so leaving things to chance is never a good option. That doesn’t mean you have to have restrictive eating habits, it just means you need to be aware and mindful of the roles food plays in your life. It takes time and effort to shift your belief system around food, but you can do it!
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