Why is it that when we eat a deliciously decadent food – something that makes us smile and feel good – we bury ourselves in guilt and self-loathing?
I decided to put a big end to this a couple of years ago. I believe that the guilt and stress around food is worse for our health than the food itself. As a nutritionist, my problem is not eating badly all the time, but feeling like I have to eat well all the time. I can become TOO strict with my diet. It’s surprisingly easy because I am exposed to healthy options.
We (myself included!) need to trust our bodies more. Will one indulgent meal cause a skin breakout? A significant weight gain? Destroy our good habits? No. We need to let go. Enjoy the foods we love. Release the idea that we have to eat perfectly all the time.
I often think of the ubiquitous French woman who enjoys a chocolate pastry and coffee most mornings, but maintains good health and a lean physique. Why? Because they listen to their bodies. They indulge in moderation. They eat what they feel like. I have spoken to some French women who have actually said to me “The last thing I feel like eating in the morning is a smoothie. It’s too hard to break down.”
The body is a clever machine, and we need to trust it more. Perhaps these women don’t stress out their bodies with guilty thoughts because they know what feels good. We must tune in and eat what we feel like eating, not what we “should” be eating. I truly believe our body knows best.
My entire teenage life was spent stressing about the foods I “should” eat. So I would restrict myself. So stressful, and it often led to overeating because I felt so deprived. Deprivation always, always leads to something negative.
This is why I have implemented “Treat Yourself Tuesday.” I choose one day a week to enjoy something indulgent. A true treat. Sometimes the perfectionist in me will arise, and feelings of guilt can pop up. I allow them to come in – and then I talk myself out it: “Hello, silly thought. You are past this. You have healed. Your body knows how to break this down. Perfect does not exist.” And that’s why I actually need to ensure I have treat meals – to challenge myself out of this perfectionist mindset. Moderation is key, of course. But when you put an end to the deprivation mentality, something amazing happens. You will find yourself not wanting it so badly. You will find yourself being able to control how much you eat. You will find yourself savouring rather than shaming.
So who is going to join me on #TreatYourselfTuesday (or any day)? And release the guilt? We can support each other through it. I’ll start – this morning I enjoyed a delicious berry and almond spelt scone and a coffee. I truly did not feel any guilt – I listened to my body, and I trust it will take care of me. How will you treat yourself this week? Tag #JSHealthTreatYourself to be part of this gorgeous community!