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.
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.
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.