Overcoming food guilt is a journey. Even if you recognize that you want a positive relationship with food and want to experience food freedom, those feelings of guilt or shame will still happen, especially when eating foods that have been ingrained in your mind as “bad” or after having a moment of overindulgence.
When you get caught in the spin cycle of emotional eating as I was for years, it feels like you’re at the mercy of the foods you crave. One side of you that desires the food is constantly battling the other side of you, thinking that the food is bad. Throughout my personal journey of overcoming food guilt and emotional eating, there were lessons I was able to take away that I hope will help some of you in the same situation.
1.) It’s okay to have feelings around food.
It’s completely OK and normal to be experiencing thought patterns that aren’t aligned with a healthy relationship with food. Know that it takes a lot of compassion, patience, practice, and support to really help you reframe your mindset around your relationship with food and remove feelings of guilt.
Rather than feeling guilty about feeling guilty, give yourself some grace. Know that it’s completely okay to have developed negative thought patterns around food and that there are ways to remold those pathways into something that feels healthier.
2.) Don’t put a timeline on your habits.
What if it took you a year? It may, because any type of change, especially ones that are so deeply rooted in us, takes time and practice! This goes back to giving yourself grace, but go into this new journey with an open mind when it comes to how long it will take. Focus on loving yourself, loving your body, fueling your body with foods that make you feel good, and allowing yourself to eat things you had once forbidden to begin the process of creating a healthier mindset around food.
3.) Let yourself eat what you crave.
One BIG realization that helped me was : granting myself permission to eat what I wanted and in return that reduced my food guilt. And also letting go of “food rules” was a big one. When we tell ourselves that we can’t have a food item, it’s bad for us, we’re not allowed to have it – we’re inadvertently putting it on a pedestal. A pedestal that makes us idealize the food item and want the food item so much more than if we had just allowed ourselves to have some in the first place.
When we remove these food rules altogether, when we take the food item off of the pedestal, the food item no longer has power over us. We no longer feel out of control around it, and therefore that guilt cycle stops.
Let go of the food rules, and the guilt will go with it.