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Feeling Guilty After Eating: How to Stop

Do you have a lingering guilty feeling nearly every time you eat- regardless of whether you’re eating nutritious food or whether you’ve starved yourself all day long?

You can learn to eat without feeling guilty. Eating is essential to living. Something essential should not be a constant struggle.

If you’re making bad food choices when you know better, then you’re knowingly creating a real reason to feel guilty.

Let’s suppose you’re eating properly and you still feel guilty. Here is a thought process to end that cycle forever. Tell yourself:

• There is a certain amount of food that I must eat to survive- a certain number of calories that my body must have daily in order to be healthy. This amount of food is absolutely necessary for me to survive and thrive.

• I must eat the food I require to survive and thrive. In fact, if I don’t eat this necessary amount of food I should feel guilty about not eating enough.

• Each day when I awake I’ll wait to take my first bite of food until my body reminds me, through a physical feeling, that it’s time to eat something. Then I will choose something to eat that is both delicious and nutritious.

• I will think in terms of bites rather than portions.

• I will slowly savor every single bite of food I swallow so that I can fully enjoy the pleasure of eating.

• I will not swallow a single bite of food without paying attention- no mindless nibbling.

• I will notice when I no longer feel hunger and stop eating then. I won’t eat even one bite extra.

• I will eat again whenever it is that my body reminds me that it needs food.

You need to recognize true hunger.

Let’s define true hunger as hunger generated by your body’s need for food vs. you being in the mood to eat something. When your body reminds you with a physical feeling that you need to eat then you are experiencing true hunger.

Now you need some personal policies governing your food selection and eating habits. Here are some suggestions:

• Say “no” to highly processed foods. If you regularly eat highly processed foods your appetite and hunger signals will undoubtedly be distorted. Stay away from “cravage”- the hybrid word (craving and garbage) for foods engineered to drive cravings with no significant regard for nutrition. Cravage may be delicious but it’s rarely nutritious.

• Read labels. You need to know what you’re eating and you can’t know what you’re eating if you don’t read the label. Make a buy vs. bye decision for each item that goes into your grocery cart. If any of the ingredients don’t grow in a garden then say bye and keep shopping. Aim to buy food that doesn’t need a label.

• Don’t let a clock determine when you eat. A clock can only tick. It can’t know if it’s time for you to eat.

• Don’t let restaurant serving sizes determine how much you eat. You are the only one who could possibly know how much you should eat at a given time. When you’re satiated save the rest for later.

• Beware of eating in restaurants too often. There are multiple reasons for not eating too frequently in restaurants but here is a primary reason: their business considerations have no relevance to your nutritional considerations plus you can never load up on veggies like you can when you eat at home.

Additional personal strategies that only you can come up with can make it easier for you to develop a healthy relationship with food. Perhaps these questions will point you in a good direction:

• What time of day does food taste best to you? Can you save the majority of your caloric allotment for this time of day?

• Do you like to nibble at night while you watch TV? Can you choose something for nibble-noshing that is actually nutritious?

• Does late-night eating interfere with your sleep? If you have a reason for not eating that has nothing to do with weight gain it may be easier for you to abstain- because it’s for a different reason.

Stop the cycle of feeling guilty after eating with good habits and effective self-talk.

Frankie O’Brien