Guilt Over Food, Should I Feel It?

I’m feeling so much better after just one day of healthy eating. Seriously. Just one day without eating sugar, drinking lots of water, and lowering the amount of sodium in my food. It’s been good.

how to get back on track with weight loss healthy livingToday I wanted to address a comment left on yesterday’s post about getting back on track with healthy living:

Hi Mary. I hope you’re having a great road trip. First time commenting, I just had one question. You wrote:

“My normal way of eating involves not eating sugar on most days, not eating fried foods, not eating fast foods, and eating more veggies and fruits. This is not how I’ve been eating on the road trip, so I find a need to get back to it now even though we have a week of roadtripping left.”

I’m confused. Just a week ago, you wrote:

“There are a lot of things I normally wouldn’t eat that I’m going to eat while I’m traveling across the US with my boyfriend. And I’m going to enjoy them all. I won’t feel guilty and I won’t stop myself from eating them.”

It seems maybe you’re feeling a little conflicted. Originally you said you weren’t going to feel guilty about indulging, but it seems you ended up feeling guilty anyway. Maybe you can share what you’ve learned, and why you appear to have reversed your original commitment to “enjoy them all,” guilt-free? Is it not as simple as merely “deciding” not to feel guilty, but rather trying (and failing) to suppress guilt that we know we SHOULD be feeling, even though we don’t want to?

I hope it doesn’t end up being too much of a distraction from your trip, and I look forward to reading about how you resolve this inner conflict and seemingly inconsistent attitute toward food and your road trip.

Thanks for the comment that sparked a blog post Kevin! I found it interesting that my decision to start eating healthy again (for me that means less sugar, less sodium, less fast food, more water) was interpreted as feeling guilty about what I was eating the week before. I found it funny because that’s completely not what I feel. (And since the comment asked nicely for my thoughts I figured I would share a few!)

For me, even though our road trip is continuing for a week, I’m done with everything new and exciting. I’ve been all throughout Tennessee and North Carolina, so nothing here is something I haven’t had a chance to have before.  So for me there is no point in continuing to eat the way I have been up until this point.

This doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy everything previously. I did. I don’t feel bad about anything I ate, nor do I regret any decisions I made. I’m in no way conflicted, as it may have seemed in my posts. I most definitely do not believe that I should be feeling guilt over eating food, as that comment suggests. I’ve spent many years of my life feeling guilt over food – guilt over compulsive eating, guilt of secret eating, guilt over eating foods that tasted bad but were eaten just to eat something to soothe an emotion.  I no longer believe that I should feel guilt over food, even if my choices aren’t necessarily “healthy” ones. My overall attitude towards food has changed so greatly in the last few years that guilt is something that I feel no longer belongs.

I suppose gathering a thought here and there from hastily written personal musings on a blog is not the best way to determine someone’s philosophy and inner feelings toward food. But for me there is not inner conflict or inconsistency. I ate delicious things that I probably won’t ever get a chance to eat again and I’m grateful for the wonderful opportunity I had to do so, not guilty or upset that I chose to indulge myself and enjoy the experience. I’ve had the things that I normally wouldn’t eat. I will always remember those meals and probably still mention the memories of some like the shrimp po-boy in New Orleans or BBQ in Texas, amazing meals I joyfully shared. There is no guilt associated with any of those meals.

For me it really is as simple as deciding not to feel guilty, which in this case is extremely  easy to do because it was all worth it.

Things have happened exactly like I thought they would on the first part of our trip and they are happening like I figured they would on the second half of the trip. If we were headed to New York like we had planned at one point, then I would still be planning on eating local treasures with abandon. Because our trip is now going through parts of the country I already know well, I’ve decided it’s not worth it for me to continue that course (except for White Castle here in Nashville and BBQ in North Carolina that I still plan to dominate). This inconsistency has more to do with the change in plans for the road trip rather than inconsistency in my food philosophy.

Additionally, deciding to go back to my healthy eating for the most part has a lot to do with how eating all these fried and sugar/salt/fat/grease filled foods made me feel. I’m not someone who counts calories or follows a diet plan, so I generally base my food decisions on how it makes my body feel. I try things, I see how they work for my body, then I adjust depending on the results. While eating all these things is fun and initially gives you a boost, after a couple weeks I’ve found myself completely out of whack physically. I’ve wanted to snack more, I’ve been so tired I’ve crashed mid afternoon and had to nap, I’ve felt slow and gross. Those feelings are something I don’t enjoy and want to eliminate to fully enjoy the rest of my road trip and the remaining time I have in the States. Going back to my normal way of eating is an obvious decision, and an easy one now that we aren’t going to the Northeast (I wish we were though!).

Hopefully that clarifies? No guilt here at all. All things were enjoyed guilt-free and very happily. Now I’m transitioning back to my normal way of eating as much of possible with a few great things thrown in.

Guilt and food is such an interesting topic, I think. I’m curious to hear what more of you think…

Do more of you think you should feel guilty over foods you eat? Do you feel guilty when you eat high-calorie/not-on-your-plan foods? Or do you allow yourself opportunities to indulge and enjoy without any negative emotions attached (please, please some of you say you do)?

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