The Huge Problem with Guilty-Pleasure Foods
Guilt begets guilt. Someone who labels food good and bad unintentionally gives food the ability to affect their mood and sense of self. If they eat something good then they think of themselves as good; eat something bad and they consider themselves to be bad and reflexively pile on guilt and shame.
The psychology of it all.
This can lead to many unforeseen consequences such as:
Using exercise as punishment to “make up” for the transgression,
Vowing to restrict food intake the rest of the day, or into the following day, to “make up” for the offence, or
Exacerbating disordered/binge eating habits from reinforcing a deeply ingrained habit (e.g., telling oneself "I've screwed up” from eating a guilty-pleasure food and responding in an unhealthy manner).
The Experience of it all.
I’ve done all three of them, more times than I can recall, and it causes the ugly side of health and fitness to rear its grotesque head. And that is why I refuse to have guilty-pleasure foods. That is why I’m encouraging you to purge that term from your vocabulary.
Food should just be food — it shouldn’t have moral implications attached to it. Munching on an apple you grew from the tree in your backyard doesn’t make you innocent/good just as enjoying your favourite candy bar that’s been buried in your purse for three months doesn’t make you guilty/bad.
The Choice of it All
If you want to improve your eating habits, here’s a simple pragmatic guideline that’s void of unnecessary moral implications: Be choosy with the not-the-most-healthy foods and beverages you happily, unapologetically indulge in, absolutely guilt-free. This is the difference between snacking on the candy dish at work throughout the day, just because it’s there, even though you don’t really enjoy that food, and choosing instead to wait to eat a dessert you truly enjoy and savouring every delectable mouthful.
Here’s another way to look at this choice, not guilt solution.
Consider two kids who each receive a ten-dollar allowance every week. One kid immediately spends their newfound riches on the first item they see at the first presented opportunity. But the other kid knows that just because they have ten dollars to spend doesn’t mean they need to part with it on the first opportunity that comes along. The second kid will take their time and intentionally choose what they really want.
My recommendation is to be like the latter child when it comes to your favourite and not-the-most-healthy foods you choose to eat and enjoy. Choose to eat more of the foods that nourish and satisfy you, and consciously eat less of the other stuff. Not banning it or branding it with harmful labels but being selective about what you choose to indulge in, free from the monstrous weight of the guilt that accompanies a good food/bad food dichotomy.
So the next time someone asks you what your favourite guilty-pleasure foods are, perhaps you’ll respond that you no longer have any, because you refuse to feel guilty from eating food.
Want to start changing your habits and mindset on, in and around food?
Contact the Discipline Fitness Coach today!