For something as essential to survival as food, most of us have a pretty complicated relationship with it. We binge on unhealthy food, we resent food for the weight it makes us put on and we crave certain foods to help us feel better. When we have an unhealthy relationship with food, eating it often makes us feel guilty. Considering we eat at least three times in a day, guilt is not an emotion you want bubbling up every time you’re around food. To transform your life for the better, you first need to develop a healthy relationship with the food you eat. Here are five ways that will banish food-guilt for good.
1. Stop Labeling Foods ‘Forbidden’
When it comes to a healthy diet, there are certainly some foods that are better for you than the rest. However, the mistake most of us do is to attempt to cut ourselves off completely from unhealthy foods. Have you noticed how you always want something more when you know you can’t have it? The same rule applies to food too. By telling yourself you will never eat a piece of cake ever again, you’re going to spend a good chunk of your time fantasizing about cake. This is why almost every elimination diet inevitably ends soon. Cutting yourself completely from certain foods is not sustainable in the long run. When you do end up giving in to your cravings and pigging out on those foods, you end up eating more than you normally would and feel terrible about yourself after. A more healthier route is to let yourself eat unhealthy foods every once in a while, but in moderation. If you used to drink soda almost every day, cut it back to just one can a week. This way you won’t feel bad about it, but you’ll also be able to make a long-lasting dietary change.
2. Be Mindful About What You’re Eating
The reason why snacking is so unhealthy is not just because of the food itself, but also because of the manner in which we eat it. When you eat a bag of chips, you’re probably also watching a TV show at the same time. Your attention is fixed on what you’re watching and not what you’re eating. This means you mindlessly keep reaching in for more chips and eat far more than you should. This is true of any situation where we’re eating without concentrating on our food. For at least one meal in a day, try eating with absolutely no distractions. This will help you become full aware of every morsel of food and the nourishment it’s providing you. You will also be more aware of your body’s signs telling you that you’re full so you won’t eat more than necessary.
3. Don’t Strive For Perfection
When you try to be perfect all the time, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you have a nagging voice in your head reminding you of all your slip-ups and how you’re failing your diet, it’s time to kill it. When you’re constantly bombarded with negative thoughts, this upsets your mood and damages your relationship with food. Look in the mirror every single day and voice positive affirmations out loud. State your health goals, tell yourself that you’re beautiful and that you’re trying your best. Positive affirmations silence negative thoughts from ruining your day. They will also help you cut yourself some slack when you do indulge a little. The next time you eat a small bar of candy, instead of punishing yourself for it, congratulate yourself on choosing the smallest sized bar.
4. Look At Food For What It Is
Food isn’t something that’s going to make you overweight, your food choices are. By viewing food as a whole as something you need to restrict yourself from, you’re associating negative thoughts with it. Food is fuel for your body. It’s something that can protect your body from disease, help you live a happy life and even lead to weight loss. By viewing food for what it is instead of demonizing it, you’ll be much better equipped to make healthier food choices. You will learn to value certain foods and become truly grateful for all its benefits.
5. Do Not Glorify Unhealthy Food
Have you ever starved yourself the whole day just so you could pig out on an all-you-can-eat buffet at night? When you do this, not only are you eating way too many calories than you need, but you’re also setting yourself up for a roller-coaster ride of emotions. First you feel gratified because of how delicious all the food is, next you become regretful of the huge amount you ate and finally you feel angry with yourself for cheating on your health goals. All of this can be avoided if you start focusing on the actual event, instead of the food that’s going to be served at it. Look forward to your cousin’s wedding instead of anticipating the food that’s going to be served. You’ll definitely save up on calories and actually feel happy at the end of a meal.