Food guilt. We’ve all felt it at one time or another. After eating a third or fourth slice of pizza. Or a second piece of chocolate cake. Or a few too many ‘bite size’ Halloween treats
Why do we feel guilty after enjoying a food we perceive as being less than healthy?
- Is it because guilt induces behavioural change?
- Or because feeling guilty actually makes us feel better, in a perverse, sort of way?
- Or because we make the connection between the food we’ve eaten and how our body feels after indulging?
In my opinion? No, no and NO!
I think it’s because we’ve become a society that sees food in black and white.
‘Good’ and ‘bad’ foods. ‘Healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ foods. ‘Guilty pleasures’, ‘sinful tastes’ and ‘tempting treats’. How can we help but be overcome with food guilt when we’ve sampled something off the ‘naughty’ list?
Of course, some foods have more to offer us nutritionally than others. I’m not going to try to convince you that a coffee shop cinnamon bun is a healthy replacement for a home made Holy Crap Energy bar… But telling yourself that certain foods are off limits is a guaranteed way to make you crave them even more.
Food is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’. It should not induce feelings of guilt or shame. It is simply the fuel that our bodies need to function and perform efficiently. Nothing more, nothing less.
Given how quickly the holidays are approaching, I can guarantee that you’ll soon be seeing lots of newspaper headlines, magazine articles and healthy living blog posts using the words ‘sinful’, ‘decadent’, ‘tempting’ and ‘guilt-free’ to describe the tastes of the season.
Why make eating such an emotionally charged activity? There’s enough drama and stress in everyday life (particularly at family holiday gatherings…) without turning our kitchens into battlefields. Enjoy a varied diet, indulge in your favourite less healthy foods on occasion and join me in saying no to feelings of food guilt.
Do you ever feel guilty after eating something you think you shouldn’t?
Did those feelings of guilt propel you to make changes in your diet?