We’ve all been there, sitting in front of a bag of chips that we just finished and feeling utterly terrible about what we have just done and thinking to ourselves, “am I having emotional eating?” or “how could I have finished a whole bag, again! Starting tomorrow, I am eating healthy.”
Next thing you know, you are sitting in front of an empty row of cookies feeling equally as terrible, not just because you managed to inhale 8 cookies. But because you are disappointed that you didn’t meet last week’s goal of healthy eating.
The irony is – it is the guilty feeling you get when you eat food that leads you back to gorging on the food you promised yourself you wouldn’t eat.
Guilt is a feeling of deserving blame for offenses. Guilt is often accompanied by feelings of being a bad person, unworthy, and shameful. Most people who are going through highly stressful lives, adding food guilt into the mix doesn’t make things any easier.
Why is it that after you promise yourself you will never eat a full bag of chips again, that the next day you have a second empty bag beside you? That is because it is much more difficult to want to take care of yourself when at the same time you feel unworthy of such care – that is the irony of food guilt.
Change through punishment does not work (at least in the long run.) Overtime, parents have come to learn this lesson when it comes to raising and fostering children. But for some reason, we haven’t clued into this subtle notion for ourselves.
We are constantly punishing ourselves through the language we use or the rules we create as it relates to food. How many times have you said (or heard someone say) “I am never eating that again” or “that was so bad of me” or “I can’t believe I ate that much” – guilt, guilt, guilt.
Our society doesn’t help in these matters. Magazines, food blogs, and products are constantly screaming “GUILT-FREE”- and it’s no wonder why! They know as humans we are bound to feel guilty if what we eat doesn’t meet the criteria for healthy.
If you yourself are on a personal journey to stop emotional eating – my first tip for you, stop feeling guilty. Take joy in what you eat. Savour what you eat. OWN what you eat. Remove the guilty language about food, you know the “never again,” or “shouldn’t have,” or “that was so bad.” Eat and move on and get on your day with pride.
So, by having less guilt, and less food shame, you make room for a lot more self-compassion. And when you have self-compassion it just happens to open up a door for self-kindness. I have a feeling when you are being kind to yourself, emotional eating will become a thing of your past.