Because I so often hear “I was soo bad yesterday; I ate X…” or “I’m trying to be good, so I’m skipping Y…” here’s a reminder (a reminder I need, too):
You aren’t bad for your food choices. Or terrible. Or disgusting. Or lazy. Or a sloth. Or stupid. Or hopeless.
You aren’t bad because you ate fluffy biscuits with real butter.
You aren’t bad because you had a bag of chips.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
You aren’t naughty because you ate the full-fat ice cream or the fast-food version of pizza or a whopping piece of cake.
You aren’t bad because you don’t like kale. Because green juice grosses you out. Because you don’t count your calories. Because you surpassed some calorie count. Because you like to eat chocolate every day.
You haven’t sinned by eating a “sinful” meal. You don’t need to atone for your sins at a gym.You don’t need to work off X number of calories or hit the pavement for 30 minutes longer because you ate a cookie or four.
You don’t need to punish yourself in any way. You don’t need to bash yourself. You don’t need to go on a diet. You don’t need to stop eating dessert. Forever. Or for a day. Because you didn’t do anything wrong. (And even when you do something wrong, bashing yourself only makes things worse. It’s hard but practicing self-compassion is powerful.)
You don’t have to feel ashamed or disappointed. You don’t have to feel guilty. You don’t have to get angry with yourself.
Because, again, you didn’t do anything wrong.
Normal eating is flexible. Some days you’ll crave an apple. Other days you’ll crave an apple pie. Still on other days you’ll want both, and having both (or one) doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad decision-maker.
You don’t need to earn the right to eat certain foods.
Listen to your body. Let yourself eat whatever tastes good and feels good. Feed your mind and body the nutrients it needs. And eat the foods you enjoy, which satisfy your taste buds.
Maybe you’re frustrated with your relationship with food. You might want peace, a reprieve. Consider pausing. Consider working on your relationship. And as you’re working on it, remember that you are worthy and deserving, no matter what choices you make about the food you eat.