I’ve talked high-level on my blog about suffering from an eating disorder as a teen and young adult and I’ve talked extensively about the dangerous eating habits I willingly subjected myself to during contest prep for my first bikini competition. There were days when breakfast consisted of 6 (yes, counting out SIX) almonds and 3 (I wish I were lying) strawberries and a cup of black coffee. I’d then go to the gym and workout intentionally for two hours – only to throw on my clear heels (HOW classy do I sound right now?!) and practice posing for an hour. I’d leave the gym exhausted and in tears because my body wasn’t being fueled properly for my workouts and my brain felt like it was shutting down.
Rewind to my adolescence and college days, I’d starve myself for as long as I could stand it. Eventually I’d become hungry and binge. Pizza and beer with sorority sisters, copious cocktails while bartending, and bagel sandwiches to get me through my hangover the next morning. I’d feel so ashamed of myself the vicious cycle would start over Monday morning when I began starving myself again.
Fast forward to now and I feel like I can finally say that 95% of my issues with food are gone. I wish I could say I’m 100% of the way there but the truth is, sometimes I do feel guilty. Whenever those dark moments creep in, I have three ways in which I release myself from the guilt of eating:
- Exercise is NOT, nor should it ever be, punishment for what you ate. Have you ever eaten something and said “this tastes amazing – but I better work it off later”? I ask because I’m currently writing this as I sip on a beautiful lavender almond milk latte at my favorite local coffee shop. Rather than savoring this latte only to feel guilt when my cup is empty, I take time to enjoy each sip and realize yes, I will be going to the gym later, so sure – this sugar will be used as fuel as I lift today but it’s not the ONLY way I’d allow myself to enjoy it. I am not using my workout later this afternoon as punishment for ordering this drink. Make sense?
- Food is not inheritably “good” or “bad.” Salads aren’t necessarily good – in fact, some salads have north of 800 calories WITHOUT dressing. That totals near your entire daily caloric intake once you factor in a fat-laden dressing. And not all cookies are bad. Stop treating food with a black and white approach.
- Appreciate how the food you’re eating makes you feel. I love a warm brownie with coffee ice cream as much as the next person – but I don’t eat it every day. Why? Not because I know it’ll make me gain weight (which unfortunately it would!) but because I don’t like the way it makes me feel. When I eat high-fat foods packed with simple carbohydrates I feel terribly sluggish as soon as the sugar crash hits. I also love a glass of wine but I don’t drink one every day. Why? Because I don’t want to wake up feeling bloated yet dehydrated all at once. Sometimes I get bored eating a kale salad and other times I just don’t feel like eating a plain piece of chicken. But I know that those foods make me feel GOOD. So I invent ways to jazz them up so I can continue eating foods that make me feel great from the inside out.
What about you? How do you release yourself from guilt? Maybe you never have experienced this – if so, hats off to you!! Healthy relationships with your mind and body are essential for self-love and happiness. If you’re like me and struggle from time to time, I hope you implement these tips and find that they work for you! If you do, I’d love to hear from you.
And just in case no one told you yet today, you are beautiful and worthy of all the love in the world!