To The Mom Feeling Guilty After Eating: You Can Be Free
To The Mom Feeling Guilty After Eating,
I see you weighed down by guilt that feels so heavy and crushing.
You try so hard to practice control, to hold yourself back. But no matter how much restraint you exercise, eating brings on a creeping sense of guilt that feels inescapable.
At work, at the church potluck, at the playdate, the coffee shop, your kid’s team meeting, birthday parties and holidays. You hold back until you can no longer say no, and you feel your willpower crumble from beneath you.
It tastes so good but any satisfaction is overshadowed by food guilt. With every bite, the thoughts grow louder, the guilt becomes stronger, and the criticism becomes stifling. Once you break and have the food you crave, you might find it harder to stop. Trying to restrict your food might even lead to binge eating.
The thoughts in your head might be:
“I shouldn’t be eating this if I’m trying to lose weight”
“I don’t deserve to eat”
“I haven’t exercised enough to eat”
“Healthy eating doesn’t involve desserts”
“My sugar intake is way too high”
“Simple sugars are so bad for me”
“I’m such a failure, I have no self-control”
The incessant chatter in your head about food and your body can become so toxic that it makes you feel worthless.
Feelings of shame make you feel at constant war with your own body, and the battle with food has taken up so much of your mental space.
So much in fact, that it’s hard to focus on anything else. You might find it difficult to be present for your kids or engaged in the things in life that matter most.
I understand, mama. That used to be me, too.
But I’m here to tell you that you can stop feeling guilty after eating. You can be free from the barraging thoughts and haunting guilt to truly be able to enjoy the foods you love and to trust your body in the process.
Feeling good in your own body and confident in your food choices comes from a place of trust in yourself and with permission to eat. Food is meant to be nourishing and pleasurable, not something that controls you and riddens you with guilt. You can be free of the shame you feel in your body to be able to show up fully for yourself and your kids.
Because really, this is more than eating. This is about finding true freedom that comes from a healthy relationship with food and your body, one that is built on trust and confidence, not fear, control, and guilt.
There is too much at stake, mama - for yourself, and your kids. Feeling guilty around food is often a symptom of an unhealthy relationship with food.
If you can’t trust your body around food, what message are you sending to your kids?
Feeding your body is a basic human need, and to deny that need is like saying you don’t deserve to breathe.
The truth is that guilt after eating often stems from food rules and restriction in one form or another.
Restricting yourself from food could lead to:
Increased urges to binge
Increased risk of life threatening eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder
Erratic and chaotic eating behaviors
Heightened risk of depression, anxiety
Missing out on the moments and memories that truly matter in life
Passing on disordered eating behaviors to your own kids
Feelings of guilt after eating can be so powerful that they trigger a need to compensate, which can create disordered eating behaviors.
I know that this is not what you want for your one and only life. I know that you’re sick and tired of the food battles. I know that you just want to set a good example for your kids, to enjoy food again and to share that joy with the people you love.
And guess what - you absolutely can get there. You can break away from food guilt once and for all, mama, and find your way back to you. Let’s get you there, one step at a time. You don’t have to do this alone.
Here are some simple steps to help you start making peace with food, so you can stop feeling guilty after eating and experience the freedom you deserve.
To break free from food guilt, keep these things in mind:
Remember That Eating is a Basic Human Need:
Diet culture has completely distorted what it means to eat, elevating diets as some kind of superpower. The truth is that you need to eat to live and thrive.
Think about it like this: would you ever deny your kids food? Of course, not! How are you any different?
Depriving yourself of the basic need to eat will drive you to seek out what you can’t or don’t have. In other words, if you’re not allowing yourself to eat regularly and adequately, this will make food feel completely chaotic.
You might feel out-of-control every time you do eat, which can trigger feelings of guilt. Getting rid of food guilt starts with the understanding that food is a necessary part of living. You deserve to eat without any conditions involved.
Understand Where the Guilt is Coming From (Hint: it’s not the food):
To get started, it’s important to understand where feelings of guilt might be coming from and what these feelings are associated with. Remember that food is just food. There is nothing that food can actually do to make you a bad person.
Feelings of guilt around eating are often triggered when you have an arbitrary set of food rules in place. When we create arbitrary food rules for ourselves, like “I can’t eat anything with sugar”, or “No desserts for 30 days”, you will feel guilty when you break this rule.
There is also external pressure from a dieting culture that makes us feel like failures when we can’t be rigid and controlled with eating, which is completely unrealistic and unhealthy, by the way. When you can begin to see what is really creating guilt in your life, you can better separate yourself from those things and from the foods you want to enjoy again.
Learn to Neutralize Food:
Once you identify that food is not what causes guilt, you can start to neutralize these foods again. This means viewing food in a neutral lens: not good or bad. Too often in our culture, we try to moralize ourselves with food.
We like to say that a person is good for eating certain things or bad for eating other foods, but that is just plain silly. Why are you giving food that kind of power in your life?
You are not bound to live by a set of food rules that tell you when and how much to eat - these are the exact things that are creating food guilt. Instead of looking to outside sources to tell what to eat, be attentive to the cues and information your body is giving you.
Rather than asking, “Is this food good or bad?”, or “Do I deserve to eat this?”, ask yourself:
“Does my body need energy?”
“Am I hungry right now?”
“Will this be satisfying?”
Reframing the questions from a place of curiosity can help you neutralize food and position your body as the expert of what you need.
Rebuild Trust & Reconnect With Your Body’s Own Wisdom:
This means that you are becoming an expert of your own body again. This means that you get to make all your own decisions about eating based on what your body is telling you. This means breaking your food rules and letting them go so you can make space to hear what your body is telling you.
Think about it like this: how do babies know when they need to eat? Are they following a set of rules to determine when they’re hungry and how much milk they should drink? No way - they go off the innate signals their bodies give them!
You were not born with food rules, nor do you need them to build a healthy relationship with food. Letting go of them is a powerful step to eating freedom and to break away from food guilt. Trusting your body instead of putting your faith in food rules will help you tune into your intuitive wisdom about eating.
Giving Yourself Permission to Eat:
When you let go of food rules, you have the capacity to discover the pleasurable aspects of eating again. Explore what your favorite foods might be, without judgement and guilt. What satisfies your taste buds and your body?
When you give yourself permission to eat, you’re allowing yourself to enjoy food again. Choosing foods that you want and that are satisfying bring pleasure back to eating and force the guilty feelings out of the picture.
You are worthy of receiving pleasure in life, including from food and your eating experiences. You deserve to eat foods you enjoy and that feel good in your body.
Step by step, mama.
You can have a relationship with your body that is built on trust, kindness, and understanding of your self-worth. Your worthiness as a person is not something that has to be earned by controlling your food or by taking up less space.
Imagine the possibility of eating foods you enjoy and sharing that joy with your kids. You can get there, mama. One step at a time. Start with believing that you are deserving of FREEDOM that comes with a healthy relationship with food.
Remember your purpose in pursuing this, for yourself and your kids. When you let go of the food guilt, you are not only creating freedom for yourself but for your kids, too.
Show yourself compassion and kindness, again and again.
You’ve got this.