How Do I Let Go of the Guilt for Eating That?! Natural Eating 101 Q&A

This week we’re continuing our fantabulous exploration of Natural Eating troubleshooting with an answer to the question: “How do I “not feel guilty” for eating something when I’ve been telling myself/or others have been telling me for years that certain foods are just plain bad or that they’ll make me fat?” First of all, when it comes to food, the most important thing we can do is to come back to Natural Eating basics whenever we feel anxious or unsettled around food, or feel drawn to eat when we aren’t hungry. The basics are:
  1. Wait to eat until you’re hungry.
  2. Stop when you’re full.
  3. Allow everything in moderation.
  4. If you’re struggling to do this, remind yourself you’re overwhelmed and needing to use food to cope. Support yourself to learn from this experience and to overcome this pattern by using the 4-7-8 breathing, the List of Stressors or the Drill Sgt. Dialogue, and you will feel better in minutes (and eat less!).
For a more detailed list of the basic guidelines of what it means to have a normal/natural relationship with food see the Natural Eating article in this series. Whenever you are starting to judge yourself for what you are about to eat or what you have just eaten, you must first ask yourself: Am I hungry (or was I when I ate)? If so, yay! That’s the first step in Natural Eating. If not, time to deal with the reality of the situation which is: If I’m eating and I’m not hungry, it means I have needs that aren’t being met in some area of my life and am feeling so anxious/overwhelmed about that and about the powerlessness I feel to meet those needs that I am using food to distract and soothe myself. This means it is not appropriate or at all helpful to guilt and shame yourself for what you chose to eat or even that you chose to eat. It is, however, appropriate to take some time to use your tools (list of stressors or Drill Sgt. Dialogue, for example) to figure out what was triggering you. To shame or berate yourself only serves to create more unmet needs for support, understanding, connection and caring on top of the unmet needs that triggered you to eat when you weren’t hungry in the first place. The truth is, if you wait to eat until you are hungry and stop when you are comfortably full (see the first 2 articles in this series of Q&A if you don’t know how to do this), you will not be overweight. This is because two things happen when you do this: 1. When you eat naturally, you naturally eat less than you do when you binge or even when you restrict all day and overeat at night, thus you will lose weight. 2. Once you see through your adherence to the basic principles of Natural Eating, that you will allow everything in moderation, as long as you eat when hungry and stop when full, you will feel more trusting of yourself and more connected to yourself (body, emotions and thoughts). This I assure you, after my own healing journey and longstanding recovery and 17 years as a specialist in this field helping hundreds of men and women through this process, will lead you to naturally want to choose healthier foods more frequently while you are still able to choose the more “treaty” kinds of foods, and do, in moderation, with no negative consequences to your weight. In other words, you’ll actually want to choose (and will choose) fruit, veggies, lean protein, etc. over processed carbs and sugars. Trust me. So, if you’re feeling guilty about what you’re eating, it’s because of one, or a combination of, simple pieces: 1. You’re buying into someone else’s story about food and what is okay and not okay. Stop it! They are not you. You are not them. You are you, and you get to decide what’s right for you and what you need and how much and when. Before you buy into someone else’s approach to food, ask yourself how peaceful their relationship with food is? How stable is their weight? How much are they still stuck in The Diet Mentality? How much do they engage in rigid thinking about their weight, food and other aspects of their lives? In my lived experience, folks that have rigid judgements of right and wrong about things like food and weight are really just very anxious people who themselves were told that they had to look a certain way in order to be acceptable but haven’t yet learned to think for themselves and see the ridiculousness in that thinking. Eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full will not make you overweight, nor will it leave you there if that’s where you are now. When you eat Naturally, you get to experience the peace that comes from truly trusting yourself around all foods at all times. If you’re letting someone else influence your relationship with food, let it be someone who has proven themselves to you to be a Natural Eater consistently and who, therefore, consistently demonstrates love and respect to themselves and others. 2. You’re eating when you’re not hungry and therefore, you are out of integrity with yourself – your actions are not in alignment with your words, i.e. “I want to lose weight.” “I am going to wait until I’m hungry to eat.”  But if this is the case, it is imperative, again, that you remember what the significance of that action means: it means you have needs that aren’t being met. You must see that beating up on yourself doesn’t help you feel more supported or able to meet your needs. So, it is irrational to give yourself a hard time for this. Seek to understand why. 3. You were hungry when you ate but you ate something that you know doesn’t make you feel good – i.e. it’s not in alignment with your goals for health and wellness; you have a sensitivity to it (i.e. wheat makes you feel bloated and sluggish; sugar makes you feel depressed and grumpy; dairy makes you feel bloated and headachey, etc.) – In this case you must first offer yourself compassion for how icky you’re feeling for eating that thing and that, if you ate it, it’s because you were trying to meet certain needs that you believed could only be met by eating that thing. Ask yourself instead to consider what you could have in the future that would meet that need and make you feel better about your self-care. For example, dried fruit is a great alternative to processed / refined sugars if you’re needing something sweet to give you a little blood sugar boost or to complete a meal (humans are predisposed to crave sweets at the end of a meal). 4. You were hungry when you ate, and ate something that doesn’t disagree with your body but The Diet Mentality says it’s B.A.D. – just remind yourself of the basics of Natural Eating and that in order to truly step free of The Diet Mentality and the vicious cycle of Restriction – Binging and Guilt, which has only ever led you to try to Restrict More – which led you to Binge More – which led you to feel all the nasty Guilt and Shame that you feel now, back to basics means:
  • Wait to eat until you’re hungry.
  • Stop when you’re full.
  • Allow everything in moderation.
  • If you’re struggling to do this, remind yourself you’re overwhelmed and needing to use food to cope. Support yourself to learn from this experience and to overcome this pattern by using the 4-7-8 breathing, the List of Stressors or the Drill Sgt. Dialogue and you will feel better in minutes (and eat less!).
I assure you, if you take all the energy you’re putting into judging what you eat, and judging yourself for eating it, and instead, just reminded yourself of these basic steps, you’ll be in a completely different place with food in just a few months. You will also experience an inner peace and contentment that is greater than you’ve likely ever known. You can do it! And, as always, if you’d like a little help, my team and I are here to give you a hand. Just email me at and I will help you figure out the best approach for you. Love The CEDRIC Centre - Michelle Morand

Posted in: Natural Eating 101

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