Someone on Twitter tweeted recently a request to stop being sent recipes for “guilt free” foods.  Her reason?  She doesn’t feel guilty about food so stop insuating she should be.

Food and Guilt
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image by Phil! Gold

It caused me to pause for a moment. How many times have I shared the same sentiment with a client, advised them to make a substitution or do something differently to enjoy something guilt free? More times than I can count I’m sad to say. It’s often with the best intentions, trying to help someone still enjoy foods that might not be terribly good for them. Yet I don’t attach guilt to food, why should I expect my clients to?

Food is lots of things. Food is fuel and nourishment. Food can be warmth and comfort. Food is a necessity of life. Food can be an opportunity for indulgence. But food should never be about guilt.

It goes back to my philosophy that diets don’t work. Diets induce guilt. A diet is a strict plan, usually with little to no room for deviation. If you do go “off the wagon”, guilt and feelings of failure are usually quick to follow.

When you are living a healthy and fit life, there is no room for guilt.  You are on a journey to be healthy and fit so you can live and enjoy life. You make choices based on that goal each and every day.  If your choices aren’t the best one day, that’s okay. The goal is to strive for better choices the next, choices that support the things in life you wish to accomplish.

If you choose to have something out the norm, but something you really enjoy, then savor it without guilt.  For example, I love tamales. I don’t get them very often because it’s terribly hard to find a vegetarian tamale is my area. Last year for my birthday we went to a restaurant in Tulsa that served amazing black bean tamales. I enjoyed them with relish, no trace of guilt. There was no reason for guilt. I chose to indulge for one day out of many. Tomorrow those tamales wouldn’t be there and my choices would be different.

Guilt is not productive in any aspect of our lives. If we live each day making conscious choices about our health and fitness, then there is certainly no reason to attach the emotion of guilt to food. Live, move and eat mindfully and let go of the negative emotion of guilt.

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