Have Your Cake and Eat It Too (without guilt!)

Since we just came off of a holiday weekend, I should probably be posting some delicious recipe I made for the 4th but instead I want to address something that’s troubled me for awhile now about holiday festivities.

No, I’m not a Scrooge and my annoyance has nothing to do with the holidays themselves. But often around the time of a holiday, I hear a lot of food and body talk that is filled with GUILT and SHAME. You’ve probably heard it too:

Pre-holiday talk:
“Oh, there’s going to be so much bad food at the BBQ tonight…I need to really work hard at the gym this morning!!!”
“I want to be able to stuff my face without guilt on Thanksgiving so I have been really good all week!”
“I lost 3 pounds last month! I’ve earned a splurge at this family dinner!”

Post-holiday talk:
“Wow, I ate so badly last weekend!! I need to get back on track first thing tomorrow morning!”
“I am so mad at myself for eating so much dessert last night!! I’ll be working out every day this week to keep off any extra pounds!”
“I was really good at the BBQ on Saturday. I stuck to the salad and veggies and passed on dessert!”

I hear these kinds of comments quite frequently and I’m guessing you have as well.

ItΒ bothers me for (primarily) these 3 reasons:

1) I used to think and talk like this and it made my relationship with food incredibly stressful!
2) The words used in these comments are associating food with being either GOOD or BAD – when really, food is just that: food. It’s not evil to enjoy a piece of dessert; and it’s not righteous to fill yourself with veggies.
3) I believe food is for our nourishment and enjoyment, and it shouldn’t be about guilt and shame. Period.

Allow me to rant for a little bit, because this is an issue that is very close to my heart…

I understand that most people these days are intent on “looking good” (however that is defined), losing weight, and being “toned.” And I think it’s very acceptable to have goals and work toward achieving them. But I have to be honest, I’m not a fan of placing all this moral value on a piece of pie or a bowl of popcorn. It’s food. Eaten in moderation, I believe even dessert and french fries have a place in our lives!

I used to be so entrenched in all of the guilt and shame myself, but it’s sure not an enjoyable way to go through life. I know this is a fine line to walk because I understand that some people have definite weight to lose in order to be healthy, and maybe others just want to lose another few pounds to feel fit and toned. And that’s okay. But please don’t beat yourself up about what you eat and feel guilty for enjoying a delicious meal or special dessert.

I think women especially have a problem with this – it’s almost a game between us sometimes to share how “bad” or “good” we were at a holiday event and encourage each other in our guilt, shame, or perhaps pride (if we were “good”).

I’m not trying to judge anyone for talking like this; I’m just suggesting that maybe we should let go of the guilt and shame and instead learn to enjoy the food we eat – whether it’s a big salad or a big piece of cake.

As cheesy as it sounds, I truly feel like life is too short to miss out on cake and ice cream.

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with feeling guilty for eating foods that are “bad”?
Do you have trouble enjoying indulgences without beating yourself up about it?
Can you start today to enjoy the treats you eat and stop buying into the guilt and shame?

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