It’s Friday which means we’re two days away from a brand new week. My week usually starts off with prepped meals, which means my usual Sunday trip to both Costco and Trader Joe’s. I basically live in both these places…your girl can eat.
Shopping for my usuals at Trader Joe’s sparked what I’m writing about today. I promote shopping along the edge of the grocery store; this is where the “whole” foods generally are. Whole foods meaning the ingredients are what they are: chicken, broccoli, berries…a very short ingredient list. However, as a nutrition coach, I focus on sustainability and a realistic approach to food. This means even at my healthiest, I still have snacks in my pantry. (life is too short to live without Pirate’s Booty, duh!) I went down the cracker aisle to get something crunchy, and found many of the boxes that were branded as “healthy snacks” also contained the words “guilt free” somewhere on the box.
This marketing got me thinking. Food and feelings have a tumultuous relationship. Emotion can lead us to overeat, often craving a feeling of satisfaction that won’t come from a snack. Further, consuming a food that isn’t “good” for you can lead to feelings of failure or defeat; you already cheated on your diet, might as well eat the whole box. The connection of food to the emotional response of guilt is a dirty trick, and it’s everywhere.
Eating should not make you feel guilty. Our bodies need calories to survive, and the rhetoric that promotes eating less, or diet food, is harmful. Instead of finding foods that promote feeling better about eating them, try and consume food that just generally makes you feel better! Filling your body with whole foods when you can will always make you feel good about your meals. But restriction is a horrible cycle. Here are three ways you can beat the guilty feeling, and improve your relationship with food:
- Eat slowly: slowing down and tuning in to what you are consuming can have an incredible effect on how much, and what you eat. Did you make a new healthy dish for the first time? Slow down and enjoy how amazing your meal is tasting and making you feel. Did you bake your grandmother’s favorite chocolate cake and want to enjoy a slice? Slow down and savor the bites. Regardless of the nutrition value of your food, tuning in to the texture, taste, and feeling it gives you will help you feel satisfied. Give your stomach and brain time to catch up, and you are less likely to overeat.
- Mix processed snacks with healthy ones: Do you love snacks like Cheetos but know you’ll eat the whole bag? Satisfy the craving while staying on track! Try counting out a serving of Cheetos, then add a more nutritious crunchy snack like baby carrots to the mix. You’ll still get your salty craving fix, but you’re adding in a healthy option to the mix. Remember to eat slow, and enjoy both. You’ll feel good about both food choices.
- Lose the “F” it attitude: Ever fallen off your nutrition plan for the week and thought “I’ve already eaten badly, might as well continue and start again Monday?” then spiraled into feelings of guilt and worthlessness because you broke your weekly goal? Yup…that all or nothing thinking can lead to a cycle of perceived failure. If you fall off the wagon of your nutrition and fitness plan, get back on where you can. FORGIVE YOURSELF and do not let guilt hold you back from your goals. We are all human. Go crush your next workout and get back to whole foods meals. One mistake doesn’t mean failure, don’t let guilt convince you of that.
Break up with guilt, and let food be both fuel and an experience! As always, I’m here for any questions or help you need.