How to stop feeling guilty about eating certain foods, so you can start enjoying meals again
- 2 Minutes Read
If you dread eating out or having a special meal with others, maybe you'll find pleasure at mealtime again when you learn how to stop feeling guilty about eating. From food conflict to labeling foods good or bad, read on to explore the concept of enjoying food while nurturing your health.
Growing up in a Midwestern farming community surrounded by vegetable gardens, fruit trees, cattle, and free-range chickens, one of my fond memories includes helping my parents harvest the potato garden. My dad drove the tractor, and we walked behind, throwing the fresh potatoes onto the wagon. The smell of the rich soil and the feel of the cool ground between my toes still brings a smile to my face. We stored the potatoes in a potato cellar, where we would retrieve them for meals with family and friends.
Our self-sustaining farm included 100 baby chicks every spring which would grow up to produce eggs for our family. But my favorite memory was my mom's summer kitchen, a small, detached building for cooking without heating up the main house. It was used for generations before the luxury of air conditioning. I helped can or freeze apples, cherries, grapes, jams, jellies, green beans, corn, tomatoes, juices, cabbage, sauerkraut, etc. from our gardens and orchards. It wasn't that long ago that we did this-about 50 years to be exact.
Fast forward to my wonderful London East End Food Tour (www.eatinglondontours.co.uk) with my husband. The walking tour included eight restaurants, pubs, and food shops whose proprietors were proud of their heritage-from the 17th Century English restaurant serving bread and butter pudding to the Jewish bagel shop that served salt beef with yummy, chewy bagels to the Bangladeshi restaurant that specializes in amazing curries. I never intentionally tell the group that I'm a registered dietitian. I don't want them to feel I am the food police, because I love food, too! I heard many comments related to our society's perception of food. Some tourists were clearly worried about overeating, and others felt guilty about eating bacon, real cream, rich cheese, and sweets. Fortunately, the tour's smaller portions allowed us to graze along and fully enjoy the experience.
It's not uncommon for people to feel guilty, conflicting thoughts about enjoying food. Confusing health messages, a bombardment of advertisements for "healthy" processed foods, and overexposure to the latest food crazes or diets contribute to the conundrum. If the thought of a food tour or eating simple potatoes makes you anxious, then pause and ponder it. If you want to discover how to stop feeling guilty about eating, ask yourself some of these questions:
If you answered "NO" to these questions, then congratulations to you! You have somehow managed to escape the message "melee." If you answered "YES" to some of the questions, then step back and think. Work on enjoying foods in a balanced way, savor every bite, and get rid of all-or-nothing thoughts regarding nutrition. Yes, all foods can fit into a healthy diet. Figure out what makes you both happy and healthy. Allow yourself to enjoy food and use a calorie and exercise tracker, like MyNetDiary, as a tool, not a weapon. Soon, you'll feel food guilt no more.
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