Kale and Cookies: 3 Steps to Overcoming Healthy Food and Junk Food Guilt


by Lindsey Smith, HHC

A few weeks ago, I was experiencing some light-headedness. As much as I tried to brush it off, I realized it was a problem and I needed to do something about it.

After discussing my issues with my friend and fellow health coach, Matt, he eventually said to me, “Well, maybe you need some protein. Try eating some eggs, fish, or protein powder.” He urged me to at least try one of them. I shook my head and nodded and mumbled a few things like, “Yeah, sure, and okay.”

Eventually, I was back in my own mind pondering what I should do. I didn’t want to feel weak and I surely wanted to feel clear in my head again. But the thought of eating an egg after I have been egg-free for several years felt so bad to me. The thought of eating a piece of fish made me feel so guilty especially to all my fellow vegan friends. And the protein powder made me feel ashamed, like I was giving into health food claims. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Then it hit me. Here I was feeling shameful and guilty over eating something that could potentially help my body. I realized I wasn’t listening and instead I was “guilting” myself into a made-up category of “what’s right” and “what’s wrong.”

You see, people who experience food guilt tend to see food as black and white, good and bad, and calories in and calories out. It’s because we feel bad when we eat something we know or feel we shouldn’t. We mentally stress about our food choices at home, at work, and at social gatherings. Negative thoughts of food crowd our mind, making it hard to think about anything else.

As a recovering emotional eater, I have come along way since my Twix bar overdoses and Swedish Fish binges. But this type of healthy food guilt was no different than what my body experienced when I felt guilty about eating a sugary brownie.

The stress and anxiety food guilt puts on your body is the same type of stress that causes you to feel weak or even gain weight. Your body cannot distinguish the difference if you are feeing guilty over kale or a cookie.

Regardless of where you are on your food journey, here are 3 simple tips to help your overcome food guilt, whether it’s healthy food or junk food:

1.) Listen to Your Body: There are a million different diet theories and a ton of things you should or shouldn’t do when it comes to eating. But be respectful to yourself and your body by actually listening to it. Notice how you are feeling, what you are craving, and how satisfied you are. If you listen close enough, your body will tell you exactly what it needs.

2.) Release Judgments: What works for one person isn’t right for the next person. Release the judgment and criticism that you have for yourself and others when it comes to food. Repeat this affirmation when needed, “I release the need to judge myself and others, especially when it comes to food.”

3.) Love Your Food: Go into every encounter you have with food, from preparing to cooking to eating, with a state of love and appreciation. It doesn’t matter if it’s a piece of kale or a piece of cake. This will help you digest better and stress less.

And remember, health is a journey, not a destination. Don’t aim to be the best at everything. Instead, learn to be the best and healthiest you!

Bio: Lindsey Smith, known as the “food mood girl,” works with people who have a habit of looking to food for all the wrong nutrients: comfort, reward, fun and acceptance. Through speaking and coaching she motivates, equips and inspires people to sort out their relationships with food so they can live a healthy, balanced life. She is also the author of Junk Foods & Junk Moods: Stop Craving and Start Living! Connect with Smith via her Web site, www.FoodMoodGirl.com, on Facebook and Twitter @LindseySmithHHC.

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