Food Guilt and Curiosity

Have you seen that meme bepopping around Facebook and Instagram with one woman saying she feels so bad guilty for eating chocolate cake and the other exclaiming, "for f**'s sake, Sharon!..."

Well in case you haven't, for your viewing pleasure, here it is!

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This week something that has been coming up a lot in my sessions with my *badass* clients has been guilt.

Even more specifically, food guilt.

I'm sure you've heard it a million times, maybe even said it a million times...

"Aren't I SO BAD for eating this?" 

or 

"that food is so bad, there's no way I can eat that" 

or 

"I'm just trying to eat healthy, no bad processed foods

how about...

"I did so good staying on track at lunch. I had a salad!"

There's no shame in it! We've all said it, heard it, agreed with it, reinforced it.

So, ... how in the world did we get to this point?

To the point where food carries so much moral value that we literally take on feelings of worthiness or worthlessness?

I want you to consider that it stems from our society's deep fear of fat. 

Of having fat. Of being seen as fat. Of actually identifying as fat.

Because fat is seen as bad. 

And there's no mystery here... thin is seen as good. That's hammered into our heads early on through the media, medical professionals and the diet and beauty industries.

Many of us carry a narrative created early on, that we have to be good girls. And to do so we have to fit into a narrow (thin) mold. Bite our tongues. Value prettiness. Not curse. Put others needs before our own. Be modest in our presentation to the world. Never disappoint other people. Grind. Achieve. Level up.

And by buying into this narrative that's been forced on us, we've been active participants in our own oppression.

So of course then, those highly palatable foods that are seen as bad, elicit a great deal of guilt and shame.

Because we're breaking the rules. 

The rules that have unknowingly oppressed us and tried to contain us, keeping us small.

Because of the belief that these foods will make us fat. 

Which again, breaks the rules.

Some of us actively buck those rules out of resentment, but still have a bit of buy in. So we eat the "bad" things in abundance to stick it to the people that created or added to our narrative. We rebel against the oppression we've been participating in. Which means we are actually rebelling against ourselves.

But even with the slightest buy in of these rules, guilt and shame survive and thrive.

Healing your relationship with food and your body runs deep.

Neutralizing the way you see food is a step in that healing, but if you don't address your inner world and the roots of the narratives that drive your beliefs and behaviors you'll only get so far.

So on this snowy Wednesday, what if took a little bit of time to write your narrative. Breathe deep and do it without judgement.

What are your personal rules that make or keep you "good?"

The rules that have tried to contain you?

The rules that have created a narrative that has perpetuated your personal oppression, impacting the way you see yourself, engage with yourself and with food?

Next, see if you can brainstorm what you want your narrative to be.

The narrative of your highest, most authentic self. 

This might sound a little scary and a little weird. But go inward. Get curious. Start challenging.

That's the path to healing.

And as Brene Brown says, "curiosity is a shit starter. But that's ok. Sometimes we have to rumble with a story to find the truth."


Eating disorder therapy Pennsylvania

I'm a body image and eating disorder therapist and coach based out of Horsham, PA.

I specialize in treating binge eating and emotional eating and provide therapy and coaching to women who are tired of their lives being ruled by a number on the scale, their Weight Watcher's app and their MyFitnessPal account.