One strategy in both weight management and healthy lifestyle modification that does not get enough attention is the concept of addressing and eliminating guilty eating. Have you ever felt guilty about eating a meal before it has even been served to you? Do you feel bad whenever you eat something sweet, like a donut of piece of cake? Do you eat food that tastes bad to you because it’s “healthy”?
We know that training of behaviors is possible (Pavlov’s dog for example) and sometimes we develop behavior patterns that are completely unintentional. When you are happy and eating, your body saves that information as something that brings you pleasure & positive things happen down to the cellular level in your body. When you are sad/guilty and eating, your body saves this information as something that is negative and negative things happen in your body (such as increased cortisol).
People who are restrictive with their food often condition themselves to react negatively to eating. They feel guilty when they eat, even if it is healthy food. This leads to long-term stress, which results in something that is completely counterproductive to the whole situation, a decreased metabolism. If you feel like you might be spending too much time obsessing over your food choices, consider the following tips:
Exercise: Train yourself not to be overwhelmed by the countless images & videos on the internet of people doing workouts. Not everyone can train like a professional athlete. Take a walk for 30 minutes. Find a yoga video on Amazon. Play a dance video game. Take the time & energy you spend worrying about food & show yourself some love through movement.
Think positive: Change your food associations & take the time to get to know the ingredients and food you are consuming. Switch your mindset from “this food is going to help me lose weight so I will look good” to “this food is going to give me the energy I need to be awesome today”. Know what you are putting in your body and make positive associations.
Do some work: I challenge you to keep track of your intake for a week and to take it further by noting your mood/emotions before you eat, the time when eating, and with whom you are eating with in your record. Are you feeling hungry? Are you feeling rushed? Write these down. How much time are you actually spending on thinking about the food you are or are not eating? This type of insight may be a good start to breaking the habits that lead to negative self-talk and guilt with food.