Eliminating food guilt

Last Modified: 2/03/2022

food guilt

This post was written by Kaitlyn Creager, behavior change specialist, Diabetes Care Services, Parkview Health.

We’ve all done it, indulged in a delicious dinner, and finished it off with dessert, followed by that immediate feeling of guilt. You feel bloated and engage in negative self-talk, questioning your food choices. Then you think you need to punish yourself with a hard workout or promise to eat healthy the next day or even week to make up for your decisions. This is called food guilt, and it can contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food and be harmful to your mental health.

Reframing your choices

Dr. Ninoska Peterson encourages patients to reframe their food categories of “good” and “bad” to “nutritious” and “satisfying.” It’s important to remember that many of your food choices will fall in both categories at once, but it’s also okay if those choices are just satisfying. We all know we should eat nutritious items, but we also know that if we select them all the time without deviating, we can become bored or even burnt out on those same healthy options. That’s why, just like any other part of our life, it’s essential to find balance while enjoying those satisfying foods in moderation.

Everything in moderation

A few ways that can help you to continue to make healthy food choices while eliminating any guilt can include:

  • Practicing mindful eating
  • Pairing satisfying foods with nutritious foods
  • Utilizing portion control when eating
  • Eating fiber-rich foods and healthy proteins before dessert
  • Drinking a glass of water or eating a small salad before your entrée
  • Using smaller plates for meals
  • Practicing the My Plate Method
  • Staying hydrated, so your body doesn’t confuse thirst with hunger
Combatting the guilt

Now that you know some key concepts for finding balance and moderation let’s look at a few ways you can actively and healthily combat those feelings of food guilt. It may be easier than you think. Exercise, for example, is a great choice. But, it should be a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you’ve done or eaten. Try choosing an exercise you enjoy. If you don’t like Zumba, don’t do it. If you love spin classes, sign up for a few sessions. Finally, the next best thing you can do to fight those feelings of food remorse is show yourself some grace. It’s a journey, and you should enjoy getting there.

Need assistance?

Contact us