You may hear me harp on a lot about how you shouldn’t feel guilty about what you eat, no matter what, right? I stick by that. But what about regret? Can we regret a food choice and still be an empowered eater?
Guilt and regret are two very different things.
Guilt implies you’ve committed a crime: In fact, the definition of guilt is: Feeling responsible or regretful for a perceived offence, real or imaginary. We believe that we have committed an offence, a crime if you will (and perhaps we have).
For many of us, we often apply guilt to our eating choices. And understandably so – we see ‘guilt-free’ paraded around on ‘healthy eating’ labels all the time. We hear our friends lament about how ‘guilty’ they feel for eating that second piece of cake (or any cake at all). But have we really committed an offence because we simply ate something? And why is it more of an offence for someone in a larger body to eat ‘said’ thing than someone in a smaller body (that’s a question for another day)?
Imagine the following scenario. You have been eating so ‘good’ all week. You’ve had salads and soups and quinoa and kale. Suddenly you’re at work and Judy shows up with a box of doughnuts. Oh, you’ll just have a bite… just one… you’ve earned it after all. That one bite turns into a doughnut (or two) and then rather than thinking about how delicious it was, you’re wracked with guilt and more determined than ever to be ‘good’ again tomorrow. Or, you decide that you’ve already ruined ‘everything’ so you might as well have Mcdonalds for dinner with a side of a tub of ice cream.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Where does this guilt come from? - Diet and ‘wellness’ culture. Thanks for that.
When we go on a diet, rules are created for us. We label foods as good and bad. And so it’s natural that if we eat a ‘bad’ food we feel guilty about that. Like we’ve created a crime, technically according to the diet, you have.
A lot of this guilt also comes from a state of ‘unconsciousness’ around food and/or feeling out of control or addicted around certain foods. However, when we can begin to be more attuned, and begin to step back and make conscious decisions around our eating – that my friends, is where the magic happens. That’s when we can start to shift away from guilt and introduce regret instead.
Wait, what? Perhaps you’re thinking that regret doesn’t sound very pleasant either.
Imagine the following situation:
It’s a Wednesday night and you’ve got a busy day at work tomorrow. BUT your favourite movie just happens to be on tonight at 9:00 pm and won’t finish until much later than you’d usually go to bed. You make a conscious decision to watch the movie anyway, because gah, it’s such an epic movie, and sure enough the next morning you wake up exhausted.
You think to yourself – that wasn’t the best choice. I enjoyed it but I regret it. And then what do you do? Probably go to bed all the earlier the next day and then move on.
There’s no shame or guilt attached. You don’t think you’re a bad person for staying up too late, you just enjoyed a great movie and felt tired the next day. You learned from it and made a different choice the next day.
See the difference? Guilt is about attacking yourself, your self worth and your perceived lack of capability or trustworthy ness around food. You think you’re broken, what’s wrong with you? Why can’t you stick to that diet this time?!
Regret on the other hand is looking at something objectively, learning from it, and potentially deciding that that decision was not, in fact, a good one.
It all comes from being able to bring in awareness. To be able to pause, think about what your body needs/wants and making an active decision about the food you consume. It’s also about getting rid of the labels and using food experiences as learning opportunities rather than turning it into self-flagellation.
This is what Empowered Eating is all about. Bringing in awareness, enjoying food guilt-free and learning to actively listen to our bodies and how food makes us feel so that you can make conscious decisions about what to eat and enjoy every bite.
Learn more about becoming an Empowered Eater! CLICK HERE