Have you ever been derailed by cheating on your diet or healthy eating plan?  Have the feelings of guilt overwhelmed you? If so, you are not alone. It’s easy to fall into a love-hate relationship with food. We are constantly inundated with information about food—trends, cures, and risks. So when you do go astray, you may find yourself overcome with guilt. This mindset is often referred to as “food guilt.” To a certain extent, some food guilt is normal, but when it consumes your thoughts it can lead to disordered eating patterns.  Here are a few techniques to fight food guilt.

A healthy diet isn’t a perfect diet.

There is no such thing as a “perfect diet.” Even dietitians and wellness experts splurge a little! “Perfection eating” typically means never indulging or eating so-called “bad” foods.  Instead, make peace with a more realistic plan and allow yourself to enjoy food. Moderation and balance is the key to success.

Avoid “all or nothing” thinking.

When you get off track, the guilt starts to take over. You might say to yourself, “Well, that was a bad meal, the day is completely blown. Might as well eat whatever I want now.” Remember, tomorrow is a new day and you can make better choices and get back on track.  One meal does not have to ruin the whole day, week, month or year.  Don’t let one “bad” meal affect your outlook on your current eating plan. Acknowledge, forgive yourself, and move on.

Remove the negative thoughts.

When food guilt sets in, you may feel shame, failure, or frustration. Avoid these thoughts of negativity.  Remember, one food indiscretion does not mean you are a failure. Remind yourself why you are making these changes, and give yourself credit for every victory, large or small.

Learn from your past experiences.

Stop and think about why you are eating. Check in with yourself. Are you truly hungry or are you eating out of boredom, stress or another emotion?  It may help to keep a food/emotion journal, jotting down what you eat and how you feel during those times. Learning to recognize these triggers can help you make more mindful choices.

Stop making restrictive rules for yourself.

Are you going to avoid your favorite foods for the rest of your life? Of course not. Healthy eating does not include a total restriction. Eliminating entire food groups can lead to overindulgence. Focus on portion control and eat things in moderation.

Engage in calorie free activities.

To avoid mindless eating, have a hobby or activity that can distract you when you’re feeling stressed or bored. Take a walk, read, or craft when you feel temptation!

Set goals!

Establishing short term goals can help you stay on track with your eating plan. Ask yourself what areas you feel need the most improvement.  Be as detailed as possible. Create a realistic goal; it should be challenging, but not unattainable.

In good health,