Food Guilt: Ways to Physically and Emotionally Work Through It
How many promises have you made about eating healthy only to break them and then feel awful about yourself?
Our feelings around what we eat may be just as detrimental as the food we actually consume, making food guilt a real issue for many.
If it’s time to acknowledge the reality of any food guilt, release shameful feelings, and grow towards a more positive relationship with your diet, these tips and insights may make eating enjoyable…and healthy, again.
Thanks to our “feel-good” hormone, dopamine, we can crave high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-fat foods in order to receive a pleasurable response. This may explain why a sugary treat after dinner can’t be passed up even if you’re full or saying no to fast-food after a stressful day may feel impossible.
In addition to eating unhealthy foods, dopamine is also released when engaging in an activity you enjoy (such as playing a sport, listening to music, having sex, relaxing, etc.). Although quenching that need for dopamine can look different for everyone, the following are some simple things you can try in order to receive that craving of happiness and contentment both quickly and/or for more long-term success:
- Eat a bite of dark chocolate (the antioxidants are healthy!).
- Have a glass of herbal tea.
- Go for a walk.
- Gather family in the living room to talk or call someone on the phone to catch up.
- Cuddle with a pet.
- Take an epsom salt bath.
- Plan a vacation or weekend activity.
- Schedule a slim shot.
- Learn something new (such as an instrument, sport, or hobby).
- Brush your teeth right after eating.
While the above ideas are things you can put into place immediately, remember that they may not address the root cause of poor eating choices or habits.
Many times, that award goes to mental health.
Going through steps to acknowledge food guilt, having awareness of what may be driving it (such as cultural expectations, loss of control, boredom, loneliness, and trauma or grief), and then developing tools to process the root issue are all important in making positive choices.
As you move through this process, some ways you can begin to mentally develop a healthier relationship with food are to remember:
- Humans were designed to eat; eating provides nourishment for the mind and body. That means you are worthy of food.
- Your worth is not based on your weight or what you look like but rather your essence as a human.
- You may have heard you are what you eat, but you are much more. You are made up of lifestyle, experiences, perspectives, cultures, genetics, and the list goes on.
- Appreciate the part of you (like the ego) that is trying to care for your health (but maybe not in the kindest way), then politely ignore it.
- Try to change a thought of shame into a comment of love for yourself.
- Guilt is not good nor bad, it is a valid emotion for us to mindfully relate to.
- Many times, big change take small steps. A new outlook on diet may take many tries along the journey so start small.
- Choices should not be based on guilt or blame.
- More than likely, you will never be perfect at a diet. Give yourself compassion when you stray and then gently make your way back.
- Be outwardly thankful for the food that nourishes you, the earth it grew from, and those who harvested it. (It can be much easier to do this for whole foods than processed which can help with conscious choices).
Moving through food guilt may take time but with mindfulness and strategies you can bring awareness and action to the issue.
For additional support with food-related issues or any other health concerns such as pain, sleep disturbances, digestive upset, hormone imbalance, chronic stress, etc. please call us at (303) 688-6698 or click here to schedule a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation with Dr. Graves.
The CNMA office provides naturopathic care, testing, massage, and holistic counseling to those in Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Centennial, Parker, Larkspur, Monument, Colorado Springs, and the greater Denver metro area. For those outside of these areas, virtual appointments are available.