Food guilt is the worst! I did not have a healthy relationship with food and used to experience food guilt all the time. I feel that this topic is something that many of us are experiencing or have experienced before. For me, it was definitely not easy to rid of my food guilt. On top of that, you always see stuff, on television, the internet, or social media, about how we should allow one day out of the week as a cheat day, or that we should always be dieting, or how we all need to look a certain way or else we are not considered beautiful. All of that did not help my unhealthy relationship with food. Food guilt makes you feel miserable and doesn’t allow you to enjoy life! I don’t remember how I first heard about the Whole30, but I’m so glad I did! Completing a Whole30 eventually lead to me finding my food freedom.
Food guilt is when you experience shame or guilt after eating something that you consider “bad” or you feel is breaking the “rules” of a diet that you’re following. I personally don’t like the word diet. It has a negative meaning for me because I refer to a diet as a temporary restriction of food to achieve a certain look or better health. It sounds great when you want to better your health, but no one should ever feel restricted! I also believe that it should be a life-long way of eating and not a temporary diet. Everyone has different ways that they experience food guilt, but I’m going to share how I’ve experienced food guilt before. If I went “off-track” with my diet and wanted to have a cookie or burger, I’d eat it and then feel sooooo guilty about it. I felt the need to punish myself for eating what I did. Calorie restriction. Working out twice a day. Burning a certain amount of calories. Skipping meals. Drinking green juices all day. Not allowing myself to enjoy something else the rest of the week. Eating pure vegetables all day. If a family gathering was coming up where I knew I was going to eat something that would veer me “off-track,” I would workout before the gathering that way I could reward myself with the food that I wanted to eat. My life revolved around what I “can” and “can’t” eat. Eating foods off of the “can’t” list lead to punishment. I had such an unhealthy relationship with food. You should never have to punish yourself for something like that! Food was controlling me. These are the four most important ways that Whole30 and Food Freedom have helped me rid of my food guilt.
Completing a Whole30 and finding my food freedom helped me to rid of my food guilt and develop a healthy relationship with food. Whole30 really allowed me to understand what foods my body thrives off of and what foods negatively affect me. It also helped me to be more in-tune with my body. I learned to listen to my body to determine what foods do and don’t work for me. The reintroduction phase of the Whole30 is where you’ll learn more about different foods and how they affect you. If you consume legumes and you feel like you’ve been having some digestion issues, then you know that legumes are not for you. It’s extremely helpful and important to keep a journal of the foods you reintroduce and how they make you feel.
I practice mindful eating on a daily basis and it has not always been that way! When I completed my Whole30, I became more aware of how many times I felt the need to snack throughout the day! On a Whole30, it is not recommended to snack, so I decided to leave snacking out of my personal Whole30 journey. I knew that my snacking stemmed from me not eating enough at each meal, from snacking out of boredom, or from stress eating. Snacking out of boredom is considered mindless eating. I learned to ask myself questions before I snack. Am I actually hungry? Am I bored? Do I need to hydrate? Do I feel the need to snack just because others are snacking around me? Do I really need to munch on something at the movies just because everyone else is? Am I trying to satisfy a sweet or salty craving? If I feel that I’m actually hungry, then I’ll eat something! The first thing I usually reach for is either a meat stick/bar or a nut butter packet because they keep me satiated. Having fruit and nut bars or fruit are always my last choice because I don’t want to awaken my sugar dragon.
Before indulging, I learned to stop and ask myself whether it is worth it for me to indulge or not. For example, let’s say there is a milkshake shop nearby and I’m around others who want to go check it out. We walk in and, before I purchase a milkshake and eat it just because everyone else is, I ask myself a few questions. Is it worth it? Is it worth the massive headache and energy fluctuations that I get when I consume large amounts of sugar? Is it worth the digestive distress that occurs when I consume large amounts of dairy? If my answers to those questions are no, then I don’t eat it. If my answers are yes, then I will eat it! I’ll eat it, feel no guilt, and move on because I decided that it was totally worth it for me.
When I had cheat days, I would completely indulge in EVERYTHING in just one day and would feel absolutely horrible after. I’ve learned to say bye-bye to cheat days because they were fueling my unhealthy relationship with food. I felt the need to restrict myself for 6 days in order to reward myself with one day of whatever I wanted to eat on the weekend. If I want a cookie on a Tuesday and I feel that it’s worth it, I’m going to have that cookie! If I want a taco from a taco shop on a Thursday and I feel that it’s worth it, I’m going to have that taco! This is what FOOD FREEDOM is all about! You can have anything you want, whenever you want if you feel that it’s worth it for you! You shouldn’t have to restrict yourself for most of the week in order to feel that you deserve to eat a worth it food.
Food no longer controls me and it’s the best feeling ever! I totally understand that ridding of the food guilt is not easy. I’ve been there and it was a long journey. It may be easy for some people and more challenging for others. If you are currently trying to find a healthy relationship with food and rid of the food guilt, keep it going! Don’t give up! If you keep working on it, you will definitely get there!