Food Guilt: How To Stop Feeling Guilty After Eating ‘Bad’ FoodOct 19, 2022
Are you plagued by food guilt and don’t know how to get rid of it? Do you struggle with feeling ok after eating ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ food? Maybe you’re okay eating, for example, one cookie, but once you go past 3, you can’t handle the guilt and regret.
Rest assured that you’re not the only one struggling with food guilt - it’s a common issue I see in most of my clients. Even more, rest assured that you won’t feel this way forever. I’ve seen women who’ve struggled for decades with food guilt to feel completely free with food choices.
In this post, I’ll walk through how to begin feeling less food guilt.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY WHY YOU FEEL FOOD GUILT
Let’s start by identifying where that guilt comes from as it can be helpful in relieving the guilt too.
You might feel food guilt for a variety of reasons such as:
- Guilty for ‘ruining’ your diet
- Guilty for eating ‘too much’ of a ‘bad’ food
- Guilty for eating something that could ‘make you gain weight’
It’s important to remember that a guilty feeling = you did something ‘bad’. But I want you to ask yourself whether you actually did something ‘bad’ - and more than that, put it into perspective: What would actually make you guilty? Committing a crime? Maybe purposefully hurting someone’s feelings?
Now ask yourself where on the spectrum is eating 3+ cookies?
So part of letting go of food guilt is seeing that you’re not actually bad and don’t need to feel that level of guilt over food. You’re not a criminal!
Guilt can be a helpful feeling as it shows us that we may have overstepped a line - beyond our morals or what we think is right or ok. If you stole something, you’d probably feel guilty - that’s good! It’s your body showing you that you don’t agree with that behaviour and should apologize/ make amends / not repeat the behaviour.
The problem with having food guilt then is those morals. Are you assigning a moral value to certain foods? Or to weight gain?
STEP TWO: LOOK AT THE ROOT REASON FOR THE GUILT
If the root of your guilt is weight gain - i.e. you feel guilty because you’re assigning negative moral value to weight gain / failing your diet - then this needs to be looked at. Because morally there is nothing criminal or terrible about weight fluctuations.
I understand that you may feel guilt over not keeping to your promise/word to lose weight (as that may be something that’s important to you so overstepping that boundary can induce guilt) BUT!...we don’t want the weight gain itself to be the source of guilt.
If you’re struggling to keep to your word or diet plan - that may not be a sign of lack of willpower rather an issue with the plan! Are you pushing the weight loss too far? Is the diet plan too extreme? How can you take that guilt over not sticking to your plan and turn it around? Perhaps that looks like a diet break or slowing things down? I recommend looking into SFL for help with this!
If you’re still stuck on the guilt over actual weight gain itself - I recommend getting help with unravelling any fatphobia that you feel. Check out Body Love Academy for this - we will unleash those unhelpful beliefs around what your body ‘should’ look like and help you feel more at peace and respectful of yourself.
A few other tips on the guilt of eating ‘bad’ food when trying to lose weight:
- Another cookie or two won’t make that much difference! We tell ourselves it's the end of the world (classic catastrophic thinking!) but it really isn't.
- Moving on as normal without compensating is better - with weight loss, the less we rush, the better!
If your root cause of the guilt is losing control of your rigid rules - this usually relates back to weight anyway so the above section is important! This also indicates that it’s time for you to practice ‘breaking’ those rules! You will likely feel that guilt and anxiety at first but the more you break the rules AND realise that actually, nothing terrible happens - the more relaxed you’ll feel.
Oftentimes, we build up this list of rules over time without fully realising - so list out all of your food rules and break them one by one slowly over time.
Finally, if you’re worried that actually without this sense of guilt you’ll just go crazy and totally lose control – I’m here to tell you that it’s quite the opposite! If you don’t force that guilt on yourself, you’ll be able to move on faster from e.g. over-eating or binges and stay in that happier middle ground with food.
Instead of oscillating between feeling guilty and feeling righteous, you’ll feel much more neutral. So working on this food guilt and the root causes will make things much easier - you’ll feel much more easygoing with food and yourself!
For more help with relieving food guilt and getting to that happy middle ground with food - please check out the 30 Day Reboot (you won’t regret it!)
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