Regardless of our religious beliefs or the ways that we choose to celebrate Easter, for many of us it is a time of indulgence. We indulge with chocolate eggs, hot cross buns, or big lunches with our family.
And for many of us, indulgence is seen as something negative. Something we either feel we shouldn’t do or something that stirs up feelings of guilt.
Hands up if you struggled with feelings of guilt this Easter weekend? If you felt bad about eating the whole chocolate rabbit, when you swore you were just going to eat the ears? If you drank too much wine at lunch, or if you felt guilty going back for seconds?
But here’s the thing, the guilt we feel after indulging isn’t actually about the food itself.
It’s not about the chocolate.
It’s about how you feel about the chocolate. It’s about how you feel about indulgence. It’s about the restrictions you’ve placed on yourself and how you feel now that you have eaten something that doesn’t fit in with your food rules.
As I have said before, food is just food. It is not good. It is not bad. It is just food. What you eat does not make you good or bad. Yes, some foods will nourish you more than others. And yes, we should gravitate towards eating more of those foods. But what we eat doesn’t define us.
And food should certainly not leave us feeling guilty.
We can get so attached to the labels we place on ourselves and the labels we put on the foods we eat, that it starts to define our sense of self. We can get completely hung up on the way we think we should eat, that eating something that doesn’t align with this can send us into a spiral of guilt. We see food as something that is either good or bad, and we forget that eating can be a very social activity and can be a way that we celebrate together.
I want to live in a world where we can make whatever food choices we want to make, without feeling guilty about it.
I want to live in a world where most of the time we make nourishing food choices. But I also want to live in a world where it is ok to eat foods that may not bring much nourishment to our bodies, because there is no such thing as perfect eating and we should not feel pressured to only ever eat that “is good for us”.
I want to live in a world where a family lunch or a couple of days filled with chocolate doesn’t cripple us with guilt.
If, after this weekend, you’re still struggling with feelings of guilt here are some simple things I want you to remember:
+ Food is just food. It is not good or bad. It is perfectly ok to eat things that you wouldn’t normally and it is certainly ok to have enjoyed doing so.
+ It’s ok to have chocolate for breakfast on occasion, but do listen to your body and how this makes you feel.
+ One day, or two days, or even a whole long weekend of indulgence won’t derail any of your other healthy eating. It won’t make you gain 5 kgs or suddenly become fat, so stop judging yourself in the mirror and stop trying to see how much your stomach has grown since Thursday.
+ You are the only one judging you. Absolutely no one else will think you’re a bad person because you had a second serving of dessert, or because you’ve already eaten all of your Easter eggs. Remember, what you eat does not define you as a person and doesn’t determine whether you’re having a good or a bad day.
+ You have the power to reframe your thoughts and rethink how you feel. Enjoying foods that you don’t normally eat is a part of life, so please stop beating yourself up about the food choices you have made.
+ Listen to your body. If you now don’t feel as good as you normally would, lean towards eating lots of green veggies and some good quality protein. Be gentle with your body, rather than treating it with disdain and guilt.
+ Drop the shoulds and the pressure you’ve placed on yourself to be perfect, and embrace the imperfect nature of life and eating.
There is no such thing as perfect eating, but eating without feeling guilty is definitely a thing. It is something that we can all strive for.
When we are accepting of the food choices we make, when we stop beating ourselves up over the foods we do or don’t eat, we realise that food is just food. It is not good nor bad, and how we eat doesn’t make us a good or a bad person.
Indulgence isn’t a bad thing, and it is something that we should be able to enjoy from time to time. Indulgence and healthy eating are definitely not mutually exclusive, so there is absolutely no need to feel guilty about the food choices you’ve made this weekend – no matter how far from your normal style of eating you may have strayed.