I Was So Bad Yesterday, I Ate Too Much...

How often have you thought or said something like the following?

"I was so bad yesterday, I ate way too much…"

"I was a good girl today, I didn’t eat any..."

"This food is one of my guilty pleasures."

"Oh my gosh, this is sinfully delicious..."

"This has only X calories, so I can eat it guilt-free."

If you can relate to any of these, you’re not alone.

I’ve heard thousands of different versions of these statements from my clients. And, for many years, I said or thought them myself.

Removing Morality
A primary focus of my coaching practice is to help my clients cultivate a positive relationship with food and their body. This requires making peace with food.

One of the ways this happens is by removing all morality and judgment from eating (which is often learned from diet culture).

This means not labeling foods as good or bad—and not labeling yourself as good or bad based on what you ate or want to eat.

Labeling foods bad—and yourself as bad based on your food choices—leads to a lot of unnecessary suffering, including all-consuming feelings of guilt, shame, disappointment and despair.

Your so-called food transgressions may make you feel like you have to repent and punish yourself with food restrictions (e.g., cutting calories, eliminating sugar), excessive exercise or abusive self-talk.

Categorizing foods as bad can also increase the reward value of those foods and trigger intense cravings, overeating and binge eating.

Emotionally Equal
Of course, nutritionally, all foods are different. Emotionally, however, all foods must be treated equally in order to have a peaceful relationship with food.  

For example, carrots and carrot cake may not be nutritionally equal but they need to be emotionally equal. Neither one is good or bad.

Unless you stole a food or harmed someone to get it, there is absolutely no reason to feel bad, guilty or ashamed about your food choices. 

Liberation is Possible
I’ve seen with my clients and with myself that when you free yourself from food moralism, your eating will be a lot more pleasurable and satisfying.

Thoughts about food will take up less real estate in your brain.

You will trust food and your body more. Feelings of liberation, empowerment and ease will bubble up.

You will discover that there is nothing more delicious than a peaceful relationship with food.

Are You Out of Touch with Your Hunger?

Becoming an intuitive eater (someone who follows internal cues versus external rules) includes honoring your hunger. It's not uncommon, however, to be disconnected from your body’s hunger cues.

If you’ve been suppressing your hunger signals for a long time, it’s possible you’ve lost your physical sensitivity to them.

For example, if you have a history of dieting, you may have become accustomed to denying and tuning out your hunger. It gets silenced.

If you live a very chaotic, demanding and fast-paced life, you may ignore your hunger, especially if you feel it’s not a priority or there’s no time to eat.

Unrelenting stress and distractions can also dull your senses, making it hard to hear your hunger. So can sleep deprivation.

Perhaps you don’t realize what you're experiencing is actually a sign of hunger. We typically think hunger is felt in the stomach, however, any of the following sensations and symptoms can indicate hunger:

  • Difficulty concentrating or articulating your thoughts (i.e., brain fog)
  • Feeling light-headed, faint, dizzy, shaky or weak
  • Irritability, crankiness or short temper
  • Fatigue, low energy or sleepiness
  • Dull, gnawing ache in your throat or esophagus
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Stomach emptiness, pain, gurgling, rumbling or growling

Vulnerable to Overeating
When you’re not attuned to your hunger signals, you may not eat until you're ravenous, which leaves you vulnerable to impulsive eating, overeating and binge eating. When such primal hunger hits, all intentions of mindful, conscious eating fly out the window.

Cultivating a healthy relationship with food and your body includes responding to hunger when it comes gently knocking. Every time you do, you develop a higher level of trust and connection with your body.

If you have difficulty getting in touch with your hunger and honoring your body’s wisdom, I encourage you to seek support.

What are Your Attunement Disruptors?

People are often surprised that I don’t tell my clients what to eat, when to eat, or how much to eat. I don't because I don’t have a clue what their body needs and wants at any given time. They are the expert of their body, not me!

My role is to help my clients connect with their body’s innate wisdom and trust it to guide them to the most nourishing, satisfying and supportive choices for their unique being. Part of this process includes exploring their attunement disruptors.

Attunement Disruptors
Attunement disruptors are obstacles that interfere with your ability to clearly hear—and appropriately respond to—the messages your body is sending you, including its sensations of hunger and fullness and feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Here are a few common ones:

  • Dieting: When you’re on a diet—whether it’s Weight Watchers, Whole30 or Paleo—you prioritize a set of external rules over your internal cues (e.g., denying your hunger because you’ve reached your calorie allotment for the day; avoiding a pleasurable food because it’s not allowed).
     
  • Food Rules: As with diet programs, your personal food rules (e.g., no eating after 7 p.m., no snacking, no seconds, no carbs) dictate your food choices rather than your body’s needs and desires.
     
  • Distracted Dining: Eating while multitasking (e.g., TV watching, emailing, texting, driving, cleaning) inhibits your ability to tune into your body’s feedback.
     
  • Eating Habits: Ingrained habits, like skipping breakfast, inflexible meal times and a clean-your-plate mentality, can override your body’s needs.
     
  • Performative Eating: You’re disconnected from your body when you change how you eat when eating with others. You might do this to meet social or cultural expectations, please other people, or project a certain image.   
     
  • Inadequate Self-Care: Not prioritizing foundational daily self-care practices, such as restorative sleep, joyful movement, stress relief and screen-free time, makes it difficult to hear and respond to messages from your body.

Start Small
Addressing obstacles to body attunement can take time, especially if your inner wisdom is clouded by a dieting mentality, food rules, internalized weight stigma and other deeply embedded beliefs and behaviors. Start small and get support if needed.

Removing your disruptors will help you reconnect with your body and become more aware of and responsive to its messages, needs and desires. As a result, you will cultivate a more trusting, peaceful and relaxed relationship with food and your body.