The count down to Christmas is officially on! Christmas is a special time of year as we spend time with loved ones, take time out and review the year that was. For some of us, the joys of Christmas can be dampened by feelings of guilt around eating and celebrating with food. The festive season may cause us to feel loss of control over our eating and make us feel poorly about ourselves. Christmas is certainly not a time to feel guilt or shame, let alone anytime of the year. If you are stuck in the mindset of deprivation and restriction, feeling guilt over allowing yourself to enjoy the festive season, here I am teaching some tips on how to celebrate food without the guilt!
Guilt vs Celebration
Feeling guilt around food is incredibly common, especially if we are weight and health conscious. In fact, people with a weight-loss goal are more likely to associate certain foods with feeling guilt compared to those without a weight-loss goal. There is suggestion that guilt acts as a motivator to eat well and stay on track when trying to lose weight. While this sounds plausible, a 2014 study proved the opposite. Using chocolate cake as the ‘guilt food,’ the study assessed whether associating chocolate cake with guilt or celebration had an impact on eating behaviours, control and intentions to lose weight. Those who associated chocolate cake with guilt did not feel more positively towards healthy eating nor have any intent to eat healthier compared to those who associated the cake with celebration. Specifically, those who reported feelings of guilt, also experienced lower levels of perceived behavioural control over eating and were less successful at maintaining their weight and also losing weight. Overall the study concluded that enjoyment of food is essential to overall wellbeing and those who viewed ‘junk food’ from a celebration perspective have more success at weight management!
As you well know, I am a huge advocate for enjoying all food in moderation and having a loving relationship with food. If in the past, you have been consumed by guilt, this year allow yourself to celebrate free from guilt, it’s the best gift you can give to yourself and those around you. Here are my tips on reducing guilt around food:
- Shut off from unnecessary messages as they can fuel feelings of guilt and worry about food
- Let go of the all or nothing mindset and know that everything in moderation is perfectly fine
- Enjoy the entire experience of eating food – not just the taste, take time to smell the food, touch the food and eat the food in a relaxed way
- Eat mindfully away from distraction, look at your food, be thankful for it and eat food slowly feeling the textures and tasting the food
- Celebrate with foods you truly enjoy and look forward to eating
- Share food with loved ones, look beyond health and weight and focus on the positivity of bonding over food
Wishing you a Happy & Healthy Christmas!
Kuijer, R and Boyce, J 2014, ‘Chocolate cake. Guilt or celebration? Associations with healthy eating attitudes, perceived behavioural control, intentions and weight-loss,’ Appetite, Vol. 74, pp. 48-54.