Food guilt. What is it? It's that all too familiar feeling we get when we regret eating something, or perhaps for some people, eating too much in general. So how does it come about? The answer lies in the way you approached the meal you just consumed/devoured or perhaps practically inhaled: a lack of mindful connection.
Say what? This isn't about yoga or meditation or any of that new age spiritual stuff, isn't it? It's supposed to be about food right? Think again. Before you stop reading out of frustration, disinterest or disbelief, allow me to explain.
Whether you are a chronic over eater, a closeted snacker, food restrictor, anorexic or just find yourself stressing about food, the commonality behind the root cause of this is not being present with your food when you eat it. That's right, you're not really paying attention. How do we know this to be the case? Well for starters, you wouldn't be experiencing that after guilt had you been present throughout your meal.
So what is this 'presence', this mindfulness that I speak of? To put it simply, it's to be consciously aware of the food choices that you are making, listening to your body to find out just what it needs at this time in your present situation. This is not the same thing as an impulsive craving. It's not about what you intellectually think you should eat or would enjoy the most. It's about being present, being focused and simply feeling into your own body.
Being present during a meal will ensure that, if going through patterns of restrictive dieting behaviour, that you will eat enough. Conversely, it will ensure that, should you be a classic overeater of unhealthy processes Frankenfoods, that you make wiser innate decisions from within and nourish your body with exactly the right amount of nutrition that it needs at this present moment. By adopting a present and mindful approach to the way that you eat, you won't feel guilty about the foods that you consume, because you'll know that you have given your body the right fuel to help it fulfill it's daily tasks. You won't have that aching regret for binging on the jar of cookies because you won't have binged to begin with. If you do choose to have a cookie, it will be for the right reasons at that moment. You will enjoy the experience and you will be able to stop at one, not when the jar is empty. Eating disorder sufferers will be able to trust that their body is asking for the dire energy it needs to continue to produce healthy cells in their bodies. They will eat to satisfaction not to a rigid low calorie regime.
It may sound stupid, it may appear overly simple, but the underlying reality is this: sometimes the most clear and concrete things are those that we overlook. Eat mindfully and you'll walk away smiling, not stressing, every time you swallow.
Thomas Grainger: www.thomasgrainger.info
Eating Disorder Recovery Book: www.eatingdisorderbook.info
Photography by: Daniela Brown
Presented by Thomas Grainger