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How to manage food guilt

The things we see and hear from an early age have a lifelong impact on us in our adulthood. It is likely that living in western culture, for us to view food/drink as a 'treat' or a 'reward'. This can start in early childhood, for example, we’re giving sweet as a reward for behaving. But its almost explicitly fed to us through the media and food advertising… yeah, I am calling out the chocolate brands that tell us to “treat ourselves” [insert my eye roll].

Conversely, food can also be used to 'punish' ourselves. For example, doing extra time at the gym to “burn off calories” after overeating. You may even restrict your food intake to ‘counteract’ for a night or day out the day before.

So, in this blog I will tell you some tips to help you manage your food guilt that sadly has been socialised into many of us.

Firstly, I want you to remember that all foods in moderation are OK… empathises on ALL FOODS.

If you restrict yourself your body is so much more likely to crave the sugary, high-calorie foods as a quick-fix. So, it’s important to allow yourself to eat the things you want to and enjoy them. Try not to be disappointed in yourself if you have 'good intentions' but end up eating more than planned.

Keep at the front of your mind that food doesn't hold a moral value, so it is neither 'good' nor 'bad.' Therefore, it should not be seen as a 'treat' or something to control – it’s just food.

We like to move it move it! – Move that wonderful body of yours not for the sake of exercise but just simply to relax and be free. Go for a walk, dance around in your kitchen to your favourite tune - whatever you like. Remind yourself of all the great things your body is capable of and give it permission to eat and move without pressure. It needs food for fuel and energy, and we need energy to live.

Practising mindful eating and taking your time when you're eating can help with urges to eat more because it allows you to really enjoy what you are eating in the here and now. It also might be a really good idea to remove any distractions such as phones, TV, or computers, this is because our mind is not focusing on eating, its processing what you’re watching. Therefore, you’re much more likely to miss the ‘fullness’ queues.

Spend time with loved ones and talk to your friends about how you're feeling. If talking to someone you know is too scary, you can start with an online platform such as ‘BEAT’ where you can talk to a stranger! Talking about it always helps… I am a HUGE believer in this.

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