Anyone ending this week with a bad case of food guilt? The calendar just clicked over into November, which means most of us have a house full of Halloween candy and Thanksgiving dinner is just around the corner. Relax. Living life is far more about enjoying and savoring the moments, than shouldering the heavy burden of guilt. Whether that’s just generalized mom guilt or very specific food guilt: Give it up.
Here’s why. The crushing sense of guilt isn’t just bad for your psyche, it’s bad for your health. Guilt produces stress. Stress puts you at risk for headaches, backaches, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, depression and anxiety. It also kills energy. Chances are, you’ve probably felt it.
Studies have discovered that the feeling most associated with guilt is weight. Psychologists have explored how the emotional experience of guilt affects the subjective feeling of heaviness within the body. When participants recalled doing something unethical or wrong, they reported an increased sense of weight in their body. Turns out, the heaviness of guilt makes accomplishing normal physical activities more difficult. You could even go so far as to say that guilt saps and drains the body of the energy needed to complete physical tasks.
Guilt is a destructive, unproductive emotion we literally carry in our body. It shows up with two very unhelpful sidekicks: solidity and mass. It’s heavy. It’s exhausting. It can even become defeating or debilitating. In short: it doesn’t do your body, or you, any good to be carrying it around.
So. In this season of celebration, where sweets and treats and celebrations are around every corner, there are a few things we can do to preemptively dodge the onset of food guilt.
Five Ways to Avoid or Let Go of Food Guilt:
- Lift restrictions: Having strict rules or bans on certain foods is a set-up for a 3-month holiday guilt trip. Trust me, this is not a vacation you want to take. Instead, try living by the adage “everything in moderation”. You’re less likely to overindulge if your guilty pleasure isn’t completely off limits.
- Shift focus: Remember what your body is: a temple. Remember what food is for: fuel. Stop using words like “cheat” or “bad” or “junk” to categorize food and tune in to how foods fuel your body, and how they make you feel after you eat them. Your goal is to nourish your body so that it feels good. To eat whole and well because you deserve it. If you want a treat, have one! After all, you are a grown up.
- Plan ahead: Have a celebration or holiday party tomorrow night? Make the conscious decision to eat clean, healthy, whole foods during the day to offset a more calorie dense dinner and dessert at night. It’s not rocket science. It’s balance.
- Don’t dwell: End up eating your kids’ whole stash of candy? Take double portions of stuffing and mashed potatoes? It happens. One day, one meal, one ice cream or candy binge doesn’t a disaster make. Health, diet, fitness and wellness isn’t measured by a meal, it’s the culmination of a life.
- Move on: Tomorrow is a new day. Remind yourself that the best thing you can do for your mind, body, spirit and soul is to move forward. Don’t look back; you’re not going that way. Remember number 2 above: what your body is and what food is for, and get back on track.
As women and mothers we are hardwired for guilt, but it’s terrible for us! Succumbing to it’s heavy weight only makes the process of moving forward even harder. It’s time to let go. This holiday season, when tasty treats and deliriously savory dishes surround you, relax. Breathe. Give yourself permission to enjoy. To celebrate. To remember that you only get one trip through and it’s so much better to do it regret-free. Lift unnecessary restrictions on your favorite things, shift the focus from bad food to actually loving your body; plan ahead for foreseen celebrations; don’t dwell on an (over)indulgence, and move forward fresh tomorrow. Your whole self will thank you.