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Taking Back Control Over Food Guilt

food guilt

Having guilt over the foods you eat is an issue that far too many deal with. Most of us have been there, eating our pizza, doughnut or ice cream and having this feeling of shame that you’re actually indulging your desires.

No more, I say! It’s time to take back control and realize that you’re the one controlling the food you eat and the feelings you get from it; not the other way around.

In this article, I’ll discuss some of my favorite ideas to get rid of food guilt and take back control to get power over your food.

Recognize that calories matter

One of the first steps to getting over your issues with food is to more closely understand that all food, regardless of whether or not it’s been deemed healthy, has a caloric value. Some have more calories than others, but overall, all food has them.

This is a very important point that some people lose track of. Many of us have created these associations in our minds with regards to good food and “bad” food. The obvious culprits are the most enjoyable, like pizza, sweets and ice cream.

However, it’s very important to consider that all of those foods have a caloric value, just as do the foods we deem to be healthy.  It’s only because most of the foods we so desire have such high caloric values that we’ve deemed them to be unhealthy.

But it begs the question of if you were to simply enjoy those desirable foods in moderation… what if you consumed an equal amount of calories from ice cream as you did from a salad?

Overall, the research concludes that, generally, it is calories that matter the most. As such, rather than guilting yourself for enjoying highly desirable foods, I suggest enjoying them in moderation along with other, healthier options.

Once you can make the change from assuming foods are “good” or “bad” to focusing on the amount, you’ll stop feeling guilty for enjoying food since you’ll be able to moderate your calorie intake, while still eating the foods you love. 

Set Boundaries

While changing your food habits is pretty essential, especially if you want to change your body, you still want to be able to enjoy foods you desire, guilt free. Unfortunately, this task is a bit easier said than done.

Personally, I’m a major proponent of setting boundaries, both daily and over a long period of time, so that I understand it’s okay to consume different foods, but doing so requires attention and self-control.

Setting boundaries with high calorie foods is essential for long-term success. Take bodybuilders for example; many of them sincerely enjoy high calorie foods like doughnuts and pizza.

Furthermore, believe it or not, many of these individuals still consume those things, but they do so according to boundaries that they’ve set forth. For example, many people who “eat clean” practice cheat meals, where there is some control over type and amount of food consumed.

These individuals have decided that having strong discipline works best for them, enabling them to still enjoy those foods, but scarcely.

On the other hand, those practicing a flexible dieting routine often recognize that temptation can sometimes be a bit too much. In response, most flexible dieters allow themselves to eat more enjoyable foods more often, yet in moderation.

Whatever your preferences and desires are, you can set boundaries for yourself so that you don’t need to completely abandon your old habits, just control them in ways that are more conducive to a healthy relationship with food and also a healthy body and mind.

Food Is Not A Reward For Exercise

Rewarding yourself with food for exercise is easily one of the worst moves you can make, both for your body but also your mind.

Many people use food as motivation for exercise. Over the years of consuming junk day in and day out, some people have decided that exercise would be an ample excuse for explaining their poor food choices. I want to make sure you don’t fall into that trap.

First and foremost, this cycle of exercise and junk food consumption is a terrible idea, simply because you’re trying to justify eating copious amounts of junk food, just because you exercised. Unfortunately, much of the time a simple workout won’t completely make up for you indulgence.

Over time, those extra calories, that you think you’re enjoying as a reward, might actually come back to haunt you with excess weight gain.

Additionally, this cycle of exercise and eating can create really terrible habits. First, and we’ve already discussed this briefly, it’s quite possible you won’t make up for the calories you consume through your exercise, which can create issues.

Second, this situation can be rough mentally, especially if you can’t exercise. If you’ve engrained these patterns of exercise and junk food consumption, major issues can arise whenever you aren’t able to exercise.

What if you have a family emergency, or go on a vacation? In these situations, exercise might not be available, but your bad eating habits will stay in place. If you’re reading this, then I probably don’t need to tell you about the potential guilt of continuing to eat junk food without exercising.

Overall, while rewarding yourself with food by exercising might make sense initially, it’s an opportunity to make terrible habits and potentially not make any progress at all. I suggest avoiding this at all costs.

Make A Note Of When You Slip

When you have an issue such as this with food, it’s always beneficial to keep track of when you slip and when you have issues; such as types of foods, the amounts of those foods you’re eating as well as the environment.

Having guilt over the foods you eat or feeling different based on your food consumption isn’t just a crazy thought. And when it happens, it’s best to recognize why it’s become an issue so that you can address it or at least recognize when it’s a possibility.

Pizza for me is a big one. No matter how well I track my calories, I often feel some form of remorse when I eat pizza. Almost like a feeling of doing something I know I shouldn’t be.

Even after understanding how weight loss works and recognizing that all foods have calories, I still often feel something negative when eating those foods. But really, that’s okay.

After years of dealing with this personal issue, I’ve come to recognize that pizza will probably always be some form of trigger. Thus, since I realize I’ll eat pizza occasionally in my life, I’ve come to be okay with any feeling I get from eating it, as long as it’s in moderation.

We as a society have created these arbitrary labels of what foods are good and which are bad. While there certainly are ingredients you should avoid, most foods are perfectly acceptable to consume as long as you do so in moderation.

I suggest making a mental note of “trigger foods” or situations and just recognizing it’s part of life. Chances are you’ll need to and want to consume pizza. But rather than feeling bad about it, recognize it and control it. It’s the best way to create a great relationship with food – even ingredients you’ve termed “bad.”

food guilt

Taking Back Control Over Food Guilt

If you constantly find yourself feeling guilty for the food you eat, it’s about time you took back control. Taking control over your food, and feelings associated with it, is often the key to actually finding success with a body transformation.

Once you realize that food is simply a way to get nutrients, it becomes much easier to avoid labeling foods as inherently good or bad, which will allow you to enjoy most foods in moderation, and be guilt free.

About the author

Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN

Rudy has a 1st class BSc in Exercise, Nutrition & Health and a Masters in Exercise & Nutrition Science from the University of Tampa. Rudy currently works as a Human Performance Researcher, Sports Nutritionist and Physique Coach. Over 7 years he has helped over 500 people around the world achieve long last physique transformations.

He now works closely with a variety of professional athletes and teams, including the NBA, USA Athletics, World Triathlon Gold Medalists, Hollywood Celebrities and IFBB Pro Bodybuilders. If you would like to get in contact or work with Rudy please contact him on social media.

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