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How to stop feeling guilty after eating

Whilst we all look forward to having a tasty treat, many of us feel guilty after eating our favourite foods. From freaking out about calories to obsessing over body image, it’s not uncommon to feel anxious after eating. However, whilst having a healthy body is important, a healthy mind is also key to maintaining the perfect balance.

To help you adopt a more positive mindset when it comes to food, we’ll explore why feelings of guilt occur and how you can banish them for good.

Why we feel guilty after eating

When we’re trying to stick to a healthy diet plan, it can often feel like temptation is everywhere. Restricting certain foods from our diet means we feel like we’re failing by giving in to those cravings, ultimately leading to feelings of guilt.1 Feeling guilty is a natural response to behaving badly, and by associating certain foods with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour, we’re punishing ourselves as a result.

How to be more flexible with food

Instead of dividing food into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories, try to remember that there are no rules unless you make them, and all foods can fit into your diet in moderation. A balanced, flexible diet is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This is not only a more sustainable way to live, but also a kinder way to treat your body and mind.

Allowing yourself to enjoy your favourite foods in moderation will also make you less likely to indulge or binge eat. This is commonly seen in restrictive diets and is often associated with feelings of guilt.

Recognising food as fuel

It’s also important to recognise that food is fuel for our body, and our activity, energy and hormone levels can affect the type of fuel our body needs. If you’re feeling tired, you’re more likely to crave sugar, whilst if you’ve been for a long run, you may find you crave carbohydrates. When you view food as fuel for your body and listen to its signals, you can get closer to your goals—and be happier overall.

Remember, your body can’t function without fuel, so you need to provide it with energy when it’s running on empty.

How can we stop our negative thoughts?

If you’ve recently been feeling guilty after ‘breaking the rules’ of your diet plan and want to alter your state of mind, here are a few tips to create a more positive mindset.

  • When negative thoughts and pop into your head, acknowledge them and treat them with compassion.
  • Remind yourself that you haven’t done anything wrong, and that you are still worthy.
  • Replacing feelings of guilt with positive affirmations is a great way to change your mindset when it comes to food.
  • Some may also find it helpful to write their thoughts down when they occur. This helps you tune into what’s going on inside and put your feelings into words.
  • Talking to a relative or friend can also help. Sharing your thoughts not only is a great way to relieve anxiety and stress but can also help you banish negativity moving forward.2

Last updated: 6 May 2020

Sources
  1. https://www.self.com/story/food-guilt-weight-loss
  2. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder/features/binge-eating-guilty-feelings#1

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