I’m totally guilty of having a guilty conscience when it comes to food. Are you?
I want to clarify, by no means am I endorsing bad nutrition habits with the following advice, however, what I am recommending is that if we do splurge a bit, then we don’t hold it against ourselves in the form of emotional stress: guilt.
I actually remember a time that I felt I had to eat so perfectly in order to maintain any type of progress. Maybe I really did need to be this strict with my diet, but based on my experiences now I don’t think it would have made that big of a difference had I learned to chill out a little bit. I seriously measured my progress based on how I felt or how my body was reacting to what I ate. Little did I know my belief system had me fooled. My body measurements were on a very observant level, which was okay. And I was very in tune with my body’s response to my diet and exercise, also good. What was bad, was feeling like one cheat in my nutrition and all of a sudden an ab muscle would disappear. Young little Tia happened to believe that the guilt from imperfection, and the fear of how it would effect me did way more harm than the unhealthy food did.
Generally speaking, I ate extremely healthy and was “in control of my cravings”. I remember feeling like I didn’t need sugar or bread because I hadn’t had it in so long. Looking back, I call this the Paleo Era of my own life, where I ate strictly veggies/fruits and meats. I would say that I was a bit dogmatic with my nutrition. With this level of perfectionism I felt there was little to no room for error, and any slip up would bring me back to ground zero, where it all started. If I cheated at all I would fall 10 steps backwards, even for every tiny M&M I ate. I think this belief came from a few places but primarily from eating so clean that even something a little toxic would implode my health. There is something to be said with a balanced conscience.
Looking back on it, I think my guilt of even slight indulgences cued a relay reaction of negative self thought, and a stress on my self confidence. I had created a belief system that actually sabotaged me. I had created this monster of a guilty conscience.
You may be saying to yourself, “how unrealistic of her”, or “thats a bit dramatic”. Well yea, I created an idea that associated any type of GUILT with any form of indulgence. At the time I only thought I was being realistic because there are SO many unhealthy foods out there and we know their effects on our health so why wouldn’t we strictly avoid it all. I truly believed that the guilt was good for me, because it helped me be strict with my diet. This belief seemed reasonable at the time.
This unhealthy relationship with food, and belief that I had created is absolutely a reality for so many people though.
A few years ago, on a particular weekend I had felt I deserved a pizza and I simply didn’t want to feel guilty for it (I’m not a huge fan of rewards in the form of cheat meals, but bare with me). I vaguely remember being out to dinner with a bunch of bro’s from the gym and thinking “I’m gonna be bold and not give a crap in this moment.” I laugh at myself, but the best part is that I think that moment inspired the change of my beliefs. I remember understanding that I didn’t have to feel guilty for my indulgences and I could maintain my health while being realistic and well balanced. And even more so that I understood that my guilt after a cheat meal was more of a mental burden than the unhealthy food was.
If you feel a bit controlling with your diet in this way and it seems to be an unhealthy relationship with food then I encourage you to challenge your beliefs in order to change. But if you maybe know you can let loose once or twice a year, I am simply encouraging you to be guilt free when you decide to indulge.
Again I am not endorsing the idea of pizza and cookies being good for you. I’m saying if you do find yourself guilty after you’ve decided its ok for a cheat meal, then OWN that decision and move forward with out any emotional stress.