Stop feeling guilty about what you eat and start enjoying it!

Your food story—your thoughts, motivations, feelings, and choices regarding food—is rooted in our culture. It has trained you to think of food as shameful, guilt-ridden, or as a reward. This isn’t the way it has to be, it’s just the way you’ve been taught from a very young age. This is the Matrix of Food.

Let’s look how this system has tricked you into doing six things that are keeping you from having a healthy relationship with food.

 

Problem #1: YOU REWARD YOURSELF WITH ‘BAD’ FOOD 

You eat chocolate after a salad, or ice cream after steamed broccoli, grilled chicken breasts and plain brown rice. You feel that you deserve to eat something “bad” that you enjoy after doing eating “good” food you didn’t enjoy.

The problem is that you’re reinforcing the “good” food vs “bad” food dichotomy. This sets you up for a back-and-forth that never stops or satisfies. You never find pleasure in either food because you’re thinking about it as black or white, good or bad.

 

Problem #2: YOU SUBSTITUTE FEELINGS WITH FOOD 

You celebrate with happy hour fried food on Friday nights after a tough week of work. You eat a pound of chocolate to distract yourself after an argument with your spouse. Feelings and food are not intrinsically connected. You have connected them in your mind, and so feelings become triggers.

Suddenly you can’t feel happy without chocolate or a drink, and you can’t feel mad without carbo-loading to squelch the feelings. Stop putting so much emotional value into your food. Feel the feelings and eat the food separate from each other. Both will benefit.

 

Problem #3: YOU FEEL GUILTY ABOUT WHAT YOU EAT 

You know you should eat more fruit and vegetables, but you don’t. Or you do for a while, but then stop and feel worse. You want to like what you eat, but then feel guilty that you enjoyed it. You feel lazy, undisciplined or pathetic that you can’t eat better.

This ties back into Problem #1. There are no “good” foods and “bad” foods, so feeling badly about yourself for eating food doesn’t make sense. Your guilt or shame should have nothing to do with what you eat.

 

Problem #4: YOU EAT OUT OF OBLIGATION 

You have foods you think you should eat. You really want eggs for breakfast but you you should be eating cereal with fat-free milk instead. You should have salad but that burger sounds so good. You ought to drink mineral water but another glass of wine would be nice.

The minute your food story says you “should” do this, the petulant teenager inside of you says, “Screw you, I’m gonna do the opposite. You can’t tell me what to do!!” Get control back over your eating habits by ditching the should altogether and eliminating the conflict.

 

Problem #5: YOU DO ‘FOOD MATH’

You’re an expert at calculating carbs, calories, and fat. Using this kind of math, you choose what foods to eat. Food math takes the pleasure out of food and just plugs you back into the “good” food vs “bad” food cycle; you wouldn’t do math unless you believed that certain types of food are better than others.

Now, this isn’t to say that all calories or equal or that you should ignore good science of nutrition. The problem is that you get paralysis by analysis and when you overload on the math, you go and eat what you want. Know the basics of nutrition but remember that all things in moderation are best. A little goes a long way and a lot goes nowhere but downhill.

 

Problem #6: YOU THINK CHEATING EQUALS FAILING 

Oh no! You ate the doughnut at the staff meeting this morning, and then decided to eat out instead of eating the lunch you brought with you. Why not? The day is already ruined, right? You figure that it’s “all or nothing,” so what’s the point of continuing to try so hard after you’ve already failed.

Here’s the thing. The perception that you failed is just that—a perception. It’s part of your food story. Your story tells you that perfection is attainable if you only work hard enough. But it’s so hard that if you slip, there is no way to keep it from turning into a crashing fall.

 

How To Have A Healthier Relationship With Food Today

These are not “natural” ways people are supposed to interact with food. These are ways the matrix and your food story have told you to think and act. The good news is, you can rewrite your food story and stop doing things that negatively impact your relationship with food. Here are some questions to ask yourself to get started:

  1. What is your primary concern with food?
  2. What would you like to be different about this concern?
  3. What would change in your relationship with food if you acted and felt the way you wanted?
  4. What would change in your non-food life if you made this change?
  5. What would it take for you to do/be this way?

You are ready to stop dieting. You’re tired of spending time in a guilt/shame/reward cycle. You are ready to recognize and re-write your food story. You are ready to enjoy eating again by having a healthy relationship with food.
Start rewriting your food story today!

 

Written by: Ian Rubin, MA CPT, CHC
Owner & Founder, Wellness Success Coach
Ian is passionate about helping people find their most well selves. After struggling with his own wellness, Ian jumped from jobs in supplement sales to diet consulting to personal training. He eventually decided to use his knowledge to help people to achieve their best self in a whole way. This meant going beneath the surface to find the source of his clients’ struggles and supporting them in reaching their wellness goals.

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