Here’s how it works:
- Eat junk food.
- Don’t feel guilty.
Pretty easy, isn’t it? Well, there’s a catch. The problem is, most of us find it really hard to indulge in those less-than-healthy foods that we sometimes crave. Foods like pizza, macaroni and cheese, doughnuts, french fries, candy and the like.
The first step in reducing guilt is realizing that it doesn’t work in your favor. If you feel guilty about eating a slice of cake, does guilt turn that cake into lettuce? Does it burn calories? Does it motivate or inspire you? The answer is no, no and probably not. On the contrary, feeling guilty is likely to produce more emotional eating and an increasingly strained relationship with food. In other words, guilt doesn’t serve you.
We need to move beyond the label of good foods and bad foods. Some foods are healthier than others, but labeling one food as good and another as bad feeds into this downward cycle of shame and guilt. Moreover, depriving yourself of these so-called bad foods is the perfect way to trigger a binge. In my experience, that which we resist tends to persist. Resist that slice of mom’s apple pie, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably going to spend the next three days obsessing over it. Just eat the damn slice and get over it.
Of course, the media doesn’t help. How many times do you see foods referred to as “guilt free” in recipes? How often do we project shame on people for looking a certain way or publish magazine articles that berate celebrities for gaining weight and then sell trigger-inducing ice cream ads on the next page? How often do we call skinny people “cute” and “real” for eating pizza and larger people disgusting or lazy for doing the same thing? In other words, it’s easy to see how the world around us can influence our relationship with food and our bodies.
Let’s free ourselves from the guilt. Let’s stop judging foods as bad or good. And let’s stop judging ourselves – or others – for eating those foods. Let’s enjoy the foods that we eat, whatever those foods are, and remind ourselves that it is all about balance. Sure, let’s eat healthier foods most of the time. But let’s also make room for life. And life without pizza, cake, doughnuts or french fries fucking sucks.
P.S. If you’re ready to ditch diets in favor of something that actually works, download Davey Wavey Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter. It’s a meal plan that’s about more and not about less.