Until recently, I have felt extreme guilt for eating “bad” foods. You know the ones I’m talking about. Chocolate, ice cream, cake, pasta… Pretty much anything that isn’t leafy or grainy or “high in vitamin” WHATEVER. I know I’m not alone, either. This feeling is so prevalent in our society that comedienne Amy Schumer winked at it in a sketch on her TV show, Inside Amy Schumer, in which four women lunching lament over the calories they have consumed and console each other. They are so focused on the guilt of their food intake that they bypass their bigger problems. “I was cyberbullying my niece on Instagram the other day and I literally ate 15 mini muffins,” Schumer says. “It’s okay, they’re the opposite of big and basically nothing!” her friends tell her. So funny and so very poignant at the same time.
Putting food into these categories (good, bad) is damaging. We start to tie in our own self- worth based on what we put in our body and we often start judging other people for their choices. A good person is someone who eats fruits and vegetables and a bad person is someone who eats fast food and ice cream. I eat fast food and ice cream therefore I am a bad person. Thinking you are a bad person because you indulge in “bad foods” can lead to overindulging which then, because of guilt, can lead to deprivation which NEVER works so the cycle continues. It is emotional turmoil. It is imperative that we stop thinking of food in these terms. Spending so much time focusing on what you should or shouldn’t eat instead of listening to your body’s natural cues creates an unhealthy relationship with food and problems that are sure to last a lifetime.
In order to move past the “good food/bad food” dichotomy, you have to cut the noise around you. Don’t buy into the media’s hype surrounding junk food, sugar, endless eat this/ not that lists… You get my drift. It ebbs and flows with the latest trends anyway so how much can it actually be trusted? One moment non-fat is the way to go to keep the pounds off and then the next moment, studies show full- fat will help promote weight loss. The most important thing you can do is listen to your body’s natural hunger cues. After I let go of my food guilt, I almost never go back for second helpings– not because I am ashamed but because I wait for my body to tell me what to do. Most of the time, after about 15 minutes, my body tells me it is satisfied and full. This isn’t always the case and I have no problem getting more if I am still hungry, though. Another thing is to be mindful when you eat. Are you eating because you are simply bored? Stressed? Tired? When you are mindful about your eating decisions you are listening to those cues and can act accordingly. Don’t beat yourself up if you indulge in some late night Phish Food while watching marathon reruns of Full House (yes, I was doing this last night and no, I am not ashamed!). Foods are one of the many simple pleasures of life and sometimes are just meant to be enjoyed.
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your choices (I’m looking at you, Special K). And don’t you dare make anyone else feel bad about their choices. Seriously, guys, there’s more to this life than incessantly feeling guilty about what we put on our plates. Now if you’ll excuse me, a scoop of jellybeans are calling my name.