Have you ever felt ashamed after eating ice cream or a slice of pizza?
Did it feel like you were somehow misbehaving and being bad?
If you felt anything similar, it's because you too, like most people in our society, have been brainwashed to give a moral value to food.
This usually starts during childhood with very popular parenting techniques like denying dessert if the child hasn't finished all their veggies. Many other behaviors have a similar effect on our subconscious: they teach that food is not something that nourishes you, gives you energy, or keeps you alive. What they teach you is that it is something that is either good or bad, and eating one or the other makes you either a good or a bad person.
Have you ever told a friend that you had been very good because you didn't eat any junk food for a week? That's exactly what I'm referring to!
But here's the reality: food is not good or bad; food is just-food. We need it to be alive.
With this, I'm not questioning that the nutritional properties of certain foods are better than others. What I'm concerned about is that when we give food the power to make us feel bad or good we inevitably end up with a distorted and rather complicated relationship with food and ourselves.
To give you an example, have you ever eaten a piece of cake while being on a diet? (You might already know how I feel about diets...although that's not the point here).
What did you tell yourself afterward, or even while eating it? Every time you tell yourself that you have eaten bad foods, you probably also tell yourself something along the line of "I'm disgusting and weak".
As a Dietitian,Health Coach,and Eating Psychology Coach, I can tell you that if you eat only cake for a week, that will probably make you sick and give your body a very hard time. But I can also tell you that having a sweet treat from time to time and permitting yourself to enjoy it is healthy and normal eating behavior.
Giving a moral value to food also carries extra risk, leading to overeating. Think about it: if you're eating a cookie and you feel ashamed about it, then you might as well finish the whole package! This is particularly visible during holidays like Christmas when we already tell ourselves we're going to eat a lot of "naughty" food, so we end up stuffing ourselves up and not stopping even though we're feeling full!
We try to compensate for it by going on a diet in January, then feeling deprived and hungry, and going back to the same old destructive cycle.
If you want to make a real change this year, you should consider changing the way you think and refer to food.
Don't get me wrong; I understand that's not an easy task. Even after nearly 20 years since the last time I was on a diet, I can still hear the calorie content of certain foods in my brain as soon as I see them.
The difference is that now I can see the thought, and I don't take it seriously. Sometimes I even laugh about it as I genuinely find some mind mechanism quite funny!
I stay very aware of my body's needs. If I'm truly hungry, I sit and consciously eat the food I want while tasting and enjoying every bite. After all, it's just-food.
If you want to learn how to look at food as neutral ,and understand that it does not have any bearing on your goodness and values , book a chat with me here.
No commitment, just you and me, chatting about where your relationship to food and life is, where you want it to be… and how we can work together to get it there. Give yourself this gift, you and your wellbeing are totally worth it.