This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
Guilt is an extremely difficult emotion to experience. There are numerous situations in which someone may feel guilt, but a common cause of this emotion is food guilt. Food guilt is the guilt or shame one feels after eating something specific or a specific amount of food. This could be guilt over eating something like cake, pizza, or a particular fear food. Or, on the other hand, it could be eating in excess. No matter what is causing food guilt, it’s important to conquer it quickly.
How to Conquer Food Guilt
A small amount of food guilt is not necessarily a concern. For example, if you overate and your meal was not nutritionally dense, it’s perfectly fine to recognize that you could have made a better choice and aim to eat better with your next meal. However, lingering feelings of guilt and shame can be a serious issue. Food guilt can quickly turn into disorderly eating if it is not treated or handled correctly. This is why it’s critical to focus on overcoming food guilt as soon as you realize it’s an issue. The steps below should help you conquer this guilt and can improve your relationship with food.
Consult with a Licensed Therapist, Doctor, or Registered Dietitian
The most important thing to do when trying to eliminate food guilt is to consult with an expert. Thankfully, there are many routes one can take to improve their relationship with food. There are licensed counselors, such as the ones from BetterHelp, who specialize in helping patients with disorderly eating. Some doctors can also be of assistance in this area, depending on their specialty.
Perhaps the most important professional you could hire is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in eating disorder recovery. Dietitians are highly educated individuals who specialize in diets and nutrition. They have the knowledge to help their patients overcome food guilt and can educate them on why food should be seen as nutrition.
Keep Track of Foods That Make You Feel Guilty
If specific foods make you feel guilty, it’s important to write them down so you can tell your health care team. These foods may be fear foods of yours, or they could be due to an underlying phobia. Identifying these foods can pinpoint which foods you need to expose yourself to in order to get over the fear of them. Your healthcare professional will likely assist you in exposing yourself to these foods as exposure therapy. Working through any feelings of guilt after eating a specific food with a professional can be the key to overcoming food guilt.
Be Mindful of Who You Follow on Social Media
Do you follow any accounts that make you feel guilty about the way you eat? Perhaps the person only posts green salads and fruit on their profile. Or, maybe they post tiny meals that are only a fraction of what you eat. Whatever it is, if you feel food guilt because of it, unfollow whoever is posting the content. Although they may not be purposefully making people feel bad, you still should never be subjected to it when trying to overcome this challenge.
If the person posting this content is a close friend and you don’t want to completely unfollow them, consider muting them. On most social media platforms, you are able to mute specific users without unfollowing them. This makes it so you won’t see their content, but they can’t tell that you no longer want to see it.
Stop Looking at Foods as Bad and Good
Food guilt is rooted in the perception that some foods are bad and some foods are good. You should never feel bad about what you eat as long as it made you feel good and if it somehow nourished your body. This means even a slice of pizza, which has protein and provides energy, should be seen as a good food. A chocolate bar, which has magnesium and makes you happy, should be seen as a good food.
Removing the stigma around certain foods is very difficult, but it is the only way you will never experience food guilt again. For many people, the only way to accomplish this mindset shift is with help from a healthcare professional. If you find yourself in this position, contact a professional immediately.
Overcoming the Guilt Around Food
Perhaps reading this article was the first step towards experiencing food freedom. If you recognize that you experience food guilt and that you want to change your feelings about food, you are already on the right path. The next steps are to figure out which foods cause the most guilt, and what type of healthcare professional you prefer to work with. With their help, you can overcome your food guilt.