It’s 12am. You find yourself sitting on your couch, looking down into the empty pint of cookie dough ice cream resting in your lap, clutching a sticky spoon and fighting back a tear
We’ve all experienced food guilt at one time or another. The crushing regret after a serving french fries, the stinging sadness after a plateful of waffles, the unrelenting self doubt after a milkshake. We’re coaxed into eating these delicious foods by a persuasive husband, a terrible workday, or even our own cravings. We tell ourselves we let down our guard. We tell ourselves we lost our internal fight with will power. We feel terribly guilty.
Well, my friends, I’ve had it. I’m calling for an END to food guilt.
I hate to break the news to everyone, but we all need to eat to stay alive. Not only do we need to eat, but we need to fill our bodies with delicious, hearty, nutrient dense foods. A lot of foods! We all get hungry, but are unhappy when we cave into to our cravings. We’re moving through a world where we are told to “treat ourselves” but then we are shamed for doing so. All around us are ads for low-calorie and low-fat foods – all devoid of nutrition and flavor but completely free of guilt!
We need to get to a place where we are free to eat what makes our body feels good and allow ourselves to be comfortable with the process. If you love your body, then it seems only natural that you should fuel yourself and not regret the act of doing so. If you want to eat a cookie? By all means, eat that cookie girl. And never look back.
I was a vegetarian for many years. Very recently I started eating meat again and my life has changed in subtle ways that eventually made a world of a difference. While I respect diets of all kinds – vegetarianism included – I wholeheartedly believe that no one should be judged by what they choose to eat. It’s a deeply personal aspect of our lives and there should be no guilt or shame attached. As a vegetarian, I started to notice that the original reasons for my diet had long faded and had been replaced by feelings of guilt and restriction. What would people think of me if I ate bacon? Would I value myself less if I ate the steak? What kind of person would I be if I ordered a cheeseburger?
The answer? I’d still just be a person. A hungry person!
Letting go of that guilt has been the best thing that’s ever happened to my foodie self. I’ve been able to enjoy food for what it is: food! Without the sense of impending crushing guilt, I’ve been able to really taste and enjoy my food. I’ll try that French cheese plate, thanks. Shouldn’t that be what it’s all about anyway?
Years ago, I was sitting on a waiting room couch of my ballet studio and I thoughtlessly picked up a dancer magazine and began thumbing through the pages. I came across a Q&A interview section about diets. A flood of complicated questions about weight, food regimens and restrictions were thrown at a seasoned dancer and nutritionist and she responded with a very simple yet shocking answer: “Don’t think so much about it. Eat what you want to eat. As long as you think it’s a reasonable thing to eat, go ahead and eat it. You’ll be okay.” It’s taken me over ten years to truly understand what that woman was saying. Don’t obsess about whether your diet is falling in line with what you “should be doing.” Do what makes you feel healthy! You’ll be okay! And a decade later, as I was sitting in a Manhattan burger joint about to try bacon for the first time since I was a kid, I remembered that article.
So the next time you’re lounging on your couch, pint of cookie dough ice cream on your coffee table and scrolling through Pinterest, remember one thing when you come across another recipe for “Guilt free Brownies!” – there are no guilt free brownies. They are all guilt free brownies.
By the way, the bacon was glorious.
Love and cheesefries,