How to Eat Without Guilt

CoachMel Healthy Eating 12 Comments

Something that strikes me as I listen to people talking about eating, is the sheer indoctrination about dieting.

There’s this idea that to be slim we must avoid at all costs “bad” foods and replace them with so-called “good” foods.

There’s also an extremely frustrating idea that to lose weight successfully you must follow some kind of strict or overly complicated diet plan.

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I really struggle with this kind of thinking.

On the one hand, I want people to be able to enjoy the pleasures of eating.

So I’d love to say, “You can have a piece of chocolate cake once in a while.”

But, on the other hand I know that for some that’s the very thing which will set them off on a bad bout of eating again.

This concerns me, because eating is supposed to be enjoyable!

I’d love to hear from you guys – how do you deal with these issues? Are you in favour of complete abstinence from any food that appears “bad,” or do you allow yourself to indulge once in a while?

I’m also wondering if guilt is a major factor for any of you?

For me, a piece of homemade chocolate gâteau or cheesecake now and then does the trick. And, I don’t feel guilty about it because I know it’s an occasional treat.

Is it like that for you?

Unfortunately, shame and guilt are two things many people have associated with food for years.

The fear of getting “fat” can actually be quite gripping.

And, when you do give in to having a treat, you can end up feeling utterly tortured because you think you’ve “blown it” once again.

Can you imagine what it would be like if food wasn’t the enemy, but rather something you have complete control over, and most of all something you enjoyed?

What would that look like for you? No more counting calories or avoiding parties, just in case!

Remember, none of us eat perfectly all of the time.

So, if you feel like you’ve slipped up, rather than entertaining thoughts of guilt, put it down to experience and move on.

Guilt doesn’t do any good, in fact it is more harmful than anything else.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you struggle to eat without guilt?

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Comments 12

  1. Yum Yucky

    Whoa! I’ve never heard a dietitian speak such blasphemy….and it’s so refreshing! I totally agree with you. Depriving myself if not part of the program. I happen to love cheesecake, blueberry muffins, and pizza, but I consume it in disciplined moderation. I like being in control, even when I’m eating something sweet! I LOVE food. woo-haa!

    Yum Yucky’s last blog post..New BK "Super Seven Incher" Explodes with Absurdities

  2. Spring Girl

    I have always managed to avoid labelling food as good or bad – I love it far too much to banish it from my realm. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt guilty for overeating or making the wrong choices. I’ve learnt to get past that now though because of what you describe – the feeling of “I’ve blown it” which gives me a licence to keep eating. So a little bit at any time is the best way for me and maybe a little bit of bargaining like if I don’t have that peice of cake today I can have it tomorrow. But total avoidance? Then all I want is cake.

    Spring Girl’s last blog post..Healthy living can be easy

  3. Steve Parker, M.D.

    If a little guilt keeps me from eating a whole bag of Oreos instead of 3 cookies, is that such a bad thing? It’s not the end of the world if I eat 7. And next time I’m tempted to eat 7, I might remember the twinge of guilt I felt, and not do it again. That’s “aversive conditioning” of a sort.

    Doctors who counsel recovering alcoholics routinely tell them NEVER to consume any alcohol ever again. They might fall off the wagon. Certain foods may have the same effect on specific individuals.


    Steve Parker, M.D.’s last blog post..Which Components of the Mediterranean Diet Prolong Life?

  4. Cathy in NZ

    I’m go with the idea that nothing is really good, bad or indifferent…’s the portion size when I’m being good…’s nothing to do with portions when I just ‘want it’

    but on that saying ‘want it’ and go overboard with it……I then go back to sensible eating!

    i have just on a non-sensible eating session in the last few as my revision/exam schedule put pressure a the whole gambit. I would think it was time to go home….then wonder what I might cook……didn’t snacked mostly – on bad things balanced with “one night ate a whole packet of mixed salad leaves like in 200grms!”

    i got on the scale yesterday……haven’t been on them for at least a month….no change to weight SOOOOOO maybe I didn’t overdo it anywhere ‘badly’

    Cathy in NZ’s last blog post..Tasks to do:

  5. Melanie

    Hey Yum Lucky,
    Sounds like you have things totally in control! 🙂 I love to hear about people actually getting a grip on food…being healthy doesn’t have to be about deprivation!

    Hi Spring Girl,
    Yes, your idea of bargaining with yourself is interesting, I think that would be a very useful method for many people to use.

    Hi Steve,
    You make some interesting points. But, does it have to be “guilt” which makes us NOT eat the whole bag of cookies – can’t it simply be because that would be unhealthy…or perhaps that’s not strong enough for many people.

    I’m certainly not against shock tactics to help people realize what they’re doing to their bodies by eating unhealthy etc But, I’d prefer that they use logic and understand food is not the enemy.

    I suppose it may simply be dependent on the person, perhaps some people need tactics like those you mentioned for alcoholics??

    Hey Cathy,
    I hope your exams went well. Well done for not overdoing it, I’m glad the scales have been favorable! 🙂

  6. Susan

    I couldn’t agree more. When I was on my weight loss journey I ate plenty of foods that most people would say to stay away from. I firmly think that you must keep all kinds of foods in your diet to be successful. I lost 80 pounds doing just that. Pills, crazy soup plans, and ordered meal plans just don’t work in the end. Learning how to eat and what to eat is the only way to go and that includes how to continue to eat foods you like to eat. I have even been guilty of eating a slice of cake every day for a week and I didn’t gain anything back at all, that is because I learned how to eat. Great information!

  7. Melanie

    Hi Susan,
    I like your comment, and totally agree! Crazy pills and plans just don’t work long-term, I wish I could get people to realise that! Congratulations on your success!

  8. Kelly

    Hi Melanie,

    For me I don’t eat those “treats” because I can’t call some bad for my body/mind a treat. I used to have the treat mentality with chocolate – something I craved everyday. That food was seen a God to me. I valued it immensely for that “two minute pleasure” it supposively gave me. But once I brought the food down to the level it deserved I no longer cared for it. What I mean by this is, chocolate made me moody, it only gave me a few moments pleasure, it made be feel bloated and just generally depressed. I can’t see that as a treat.

    It took some time, but as I started to have more self awareness and because I saw the food for what it was, I no longer desired or wanted it.

    I don’t think its nice to feel guilty – binges made me feel guilty but then I think in those cases it is important to address the real issue. My binge eating was related to emotion. Without the guilt maybe I would have never addressed my underlying issues.

    Just some thoughts 🙂


    Kelly’s last blog post..Animal Fats & Your Health: Video

  9. Melanie

    Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for your comment. It’s so interesting to hear from others on this subject. It seems to be such an individual thing, doesn’t it?

    So, what foods do you now regard as a “treat?”

  10. Kelly


    I agree it does seem to be very individual…you have to cope the best way you could.

    I eat quite a bit of fruit but I tend to treat myself now and then to some of the exotic fruits like mangoes and papayas – I consider those my treats 🙂


    Kelly’s last blog post..Animal Fats & Your Health: Video

  11. Melanie

    I wish everyone could see mangoes and papayas as “treats” – I think that would go a pretty long way to helping the obesity epidemic!!! 🙂

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