Anywhere in LA where you mix food and females – you can expect to hear similar commentary coming out of their mouths: I can’t stop eating. I can’t believe I’m still eating. I have to stop eating this. I’ve been eating so much lately. I shouldn’t be eating this. Take this food away from me. If I eat this I have to do this.
You do not need to have an eating disorder mindset to resonate with this post.
The inner voice that beats us up after daring to enjoy food is woven so deeply into our minds that it is an initial response – an apology accompanies every bite. You treat yourself to dessert and as you finish your last delicious bite – the wave of guilt and regret washes over you as you glance at the crumbs on your plate. Your inner voice begins to scream “I shouldn’t have eaten that” “How can I make up for this?” plunging you deeper into regret.
Many of us struggle with guilt after eating foods that our mind has labeled as bad. Giving foods the power of labels, rids you of being able to enjoy the comfort of delicious foods. Eating disorders make it even more difficult to rid yourself of these feelings – sending you off into a wave of self-loathing and shame. We are constantly being shown in the media that food is earned and should be treaded lightly. Almost every magazine you pick up will have articles teaching you how to avoid another slice of pizza or how to eat less and still feel full.
When we label foods as good or bad, we are subconsciously labeling ourselves as either good or bad – regarding what we ate. If we ate what we consider well, we are strong and worthy. If we ate what we consider bad, we are weak and gross. Recovering from anorexia and exercise addiction – I learned that the feelings I related to food were just a reflection of my inability to love and accept myself. It is easy to blame food for the reason why you have triggered a certain feeling towards yourself.
Even if you do not have an eating disorder, the human mind feeds off of control. Allowing yourself to eat differently than what you have labeled as good, causes your mind to feel a loss of sense of control. This is why we will then say things like: How can I make up for eating this? I will work out tomorrow after eating this. I will eat healthy tomorrow after eating this. This is our mind attempting to gain back that control.
The trick is it to end the cycle of labeling foods with a positive or negative connotation – and remain neutral. As you work on letting go of food shame, you may find yourself eating more intuitively – choosing foods in response to your bodies needs and cravings. We’ve begun to rely on our brains to tell us what to eat and when to eat, rather than listening to our bodies. Next time you eat, before allowing your mind to make a judgment, ask yourself how you are feeling physically. Do I feel satisfied? Would I like to feel this way again? Do I feel energized or lethargic? Avoid judgment when answering these questions.
“To stop guilt in it’s tracks I’ll zero in on all the “OMG I can’t believe I just ate that”, “geez you have no self-control” and “ugh you are such a pig” thoughts and focus on transforming that pattern by acknowledging what there is to be grateful for. For example, I’ll give thanks for being able to have a second glass of wine or say a prayer for all the people, plants and animals that contributed to my piece of cheesecake. There’s no need to feel guilty.” – Ashley Pitman
Something I like to remind myself: is overeating really the worst thing I could have done? I didn’t lie, I didn’t cheat, I didn’t treat anybody poorly – why am I allowing myself to feel ashamed?
Remember that food is a pleasure – we tend to eat ice-cream already in guilt when we should be embracing and enjoying every bite. If you feel like pizza – go for the cheesiest slice. If you want to buy a cake – make it triple chocolate. Savor every bite and treat yourself like the fucking queen/king you are.
Photography by Laurence Philomene