Food Guilt…And How To Control It
Feeling guilty after eating food is an issue that far too many people deal with. Most of us have been there, eating our pizza, doughnut or ice cream and having this feeling of shame that you’re actually indulging your desires.
NO MORE! It’s time to take back control and realise that you’re the one controlling the food you eat and the feelings you get from it; not the other way around.
In this article, I’ll discuss some of my favourite ideas to get rid of food guilt and take back control and get power over your food.
Recognise that calories matter
One of the first steps to getting over your issues with food is to more closely understand that all food, regardless of whether or not it’s been deemed healthy or not, has a calorific value. Some have more calories than others, but overall, all food has them.
This is a very important point that some people lose track of. Many of us have created these associations in our minds with regards to good food and bad food. The obvious culprits are the most enjoyable, like pizza, sweets and ice cream.
However, it’s important to consider that all of those foods have a calorific value, as do the foods we deem to be healthy. It’s only because most of the foods we really desire have such high caloric values that we’ve deemed them to be unhealthy.
I talk a lot about energy expenditure and being able to eat the food you like to everyone on a transformation health journey, the only caveat of this is staying within your particular energy expenditure or more simply the calories you eat specific to your goals. Now, instead of eating what everyone calls “diet food” when starting your nutritional plan and subsequently setting yourself up to fail with things like sustainability and longevity, What if you were to simply enjoy those desirable foods in moderation… what if you consumed an equal amount of calories from ice cream as you did from a salad?
Overall, the research concludes that, generally, it is calories that matter the most. As such, rather than feeling guilty for enjoying highly desirable foods, I suggest enjoying them in moderation along with other healthier options.
Once you can make the change from assuming foods are “good” or “bad” to focusing on the amount, you’ll stop feeling guilty for enjoying food since you’ll be able to moderate your calorie intake, while still eating the foods you love.
While changing your food habits is pretty essential, especially if you want transform your body, you still want to be able to enjoy foods you desire, guilt free. Unfortunately, this task is a easier said than done.
Personally, I’m a major proponent of setting boundaries, both daily and over a long period of time, so that I understand its okay to consume different foods, but doing so requires attention and self-control.
Setting boundaries with high calorie foods is essential for long-term success.
Take bodybuilders for example; many of them enjoy high calorie foods like doughnuts and pizza. Believe it or not, many of these individuals still consume those things, but they do so according to boundaries that they have set for themselves. For example, many people who “eat clean” practice cheat meals, where there is some control over the type and amount of food consumed.
These individuals have decided that having strong discipline works best for them, enabling them to still enjoy those foods, but scarcely.
On the other hand, those practising a flexible dieting routine often recognise that temptation can sometimes be a bit too much. In response, most flexible dieters allow themselves to eat more enjoyable foods more often, yet in moderation.
Whatever your preferences and desires are, you can set boundaries for yourself so that you don’t need to completely abandon your old habits, just control them in ways that are more conducive to a healthy relationship with food and also a healthy body and mind.
Food Is Not A Reward For Exercise
Rewarding yourself with food for exercise is easily one of the worst moves you can make, both for your body but also your mind.
Many people use food as motivation for exercise. Over many years of consuming junk food day in and day out, some people have decided that exercise would be an ample excuse for explaining their poor food choices. I want to make sure you don’t fall into that trap.
First and foremost, this cycle of exercise and junk food consumption is not a good idea, simply because you’re trying to justify eating copious amounts of junk food, just because you exercised. Unfortunately, much of the time a simple workout won’t completely make up for you indulgence.
Over time, those extra calories, that you think you’re enjoying as a reward, might actually come back to haunt you with excess weight gain.
Additionally, this cycle of exercise and eating can create really bad habits. First, and we’ve already discussed this briefly, it’s quite possible you won’t make up for the calories you consume through your exercise, which can create issues.
Second, this situation can be rough mentally, especially if you can’t exercise. If you’ve ingrained these patterns of exercise and junk food consumption, major issues can arise whenever you are not able to exercise.
What if you have a family emergency, or go on a holiday? In these situations, exercise might not be available, but your bad eating habits will stay in place. If you’re reading this, then I probably don’t need to tell you about the potential guilt of continuing to eat junk food without exercising.
Overall, while rewarding yourself with food by exercising might make sense initially, it’s an opportunity to make terrible habits and potentially not make any body transformation at all. I suggest avoiding this at all costs.
Make A Note Of When You Slip
When you have an issue like this with food, it’s always beneficial to keep a record of when you slip and when you have issues; such as types of foods, the amounts of those foods you’re eating as well as the environment.
Having guilt over the foods you eat or feeling different based on your food consumption isn’t just a crazy thought. And when it happens, it’s best to recognise why it’s become an issue so that you can address it or at least recognise when it’s a possibility.
Pizza for me is a big one. No matter how well I journal my nutritional journey and record my calorie consumption, I often feel some form of remorse when I eat pizza. Almost like a feeling of doing something I know I shouldn’t be.
Even after understanding how weight loss works and recognising that all foods have calories, I still often feel something negative when eating those foods. But really, that’s okay. I’ve come to recognise that pizza will probably always be some form of trigger. Thus, since I realise I’ll eat pizza occasionally in my life, I’ve come to be okay with any feeling I get from eating it, as long as it’s in moderation.
We as a society have created these arbitrary labels of what foods are good and which are bad. While there certainly are ingredients you should avoid, most foods are perfectly acceptable to consume as long as you do so in moderation or within your set energy expenditure.
I suggest making a mental note of “trigger foods” or situations and just recognising it’s part of life. Chances are you’ll need to and want to consume pizza. But rather than feeling bad about it, recognise it and control it. It’s the best way to create a great relationship with food — even ingredients you’ve termed “bad.”
Taking Back Control Over Food Guilt
If you constantly find yourself feeling guilty for the food you eat, it’s about time you took back control. Taking control over your food, and feelings associated with it, is often the key to actually finding success with a body transformation.
Once you realise that food is simply a way to get nutrients, it becomes much easier to avoid labelling foods as inherently good or bad, which will allow you to enjoy most foods in moderation, and be guilt free.
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