How to eat GUILT FREE
A few years ago I fell under the spell of those “super food bloggers”.
You know the ones: they peddled us the story that an avocado rolled in cacao powder sprinkled with cacao nibs dipped in coconut oil with a dollop of almond butter tasted just like a chocolate fudge brownie.
And we pretended to believe them. We SO wanted to believe them.
We dutifully stocked our cupboards with ingredients that cost more than our rent, and ate medjool dates, avocados, and nut butter like our lives depended on it. In our wellness-addled minds, not only were these foods healthy, they most likely were calorie-free, and most definitely free from guilt.*
*Please take that with the heavy pinch of sarcasm with which it was meant to be served.
The scam was simple: if you ate like these women, you could look like them too.
Surely that was what we all wanted, right? Or what we were told we wanted, which is often pretty much the same thing.
Were all the chocolate avocado mousses we ate delicious? Most definitely, one hundred percent, not. Did we pretend they were? Most definitely, one hundred percent, we did.
Why we did this is the most interesting thing to me. And it’s what I’ve built my whole coaching business on since I managed to escape from the clutches of wellness.
If I’m entirely honest, I’m not all that interested in what we eat.
Don’t get me wrong, I love food, I’m passionate about food and I love cooking. I’m just not interested in dictating to you what you should or shouldn’t be eating. I actually toyed with the idea of re-training as a nutritionist for about a year or so. But then I realised I’m much more interested in the why, not the what, of eating.
Why we eat the things we eat, the psychology of eating, the relationship we have with food, and the way we feel about ourselves.
With over a decade of personal experience to bring to my work, I knew I could make a difference. So I researched, studied, and trained, and now work with women all over the world to help them ditch the diet mentality, make peace with their bodies, and find happiness and freedom around food.
I absolutely love it!
But back to the whole wellness thing. Let’s take “healthy millionaire shortbreads”, which are marketed as guilt-free, as an example.
I’d suggest that the whole point of these is purely psychological. The entire purpose of the “healthy” version is to point out that the original version is somehow unhealthy and that therefore one should really be feeling guilty when eating them.
I have come to fundamentally disagree with this approach. Millionaire shortbreads, cookies, and cakes are not a health food, and trying to treat them as such is, I would argue, a bad idea for several reasons.
Firstly, you can very easily end up with something that is not delicious at all (and I would go as far to say in some cases, gross). Obviously, eating a gross version of something you love, but which you are told is healthy, is not really going to satiate anything. I don’t know about you, but a poor imitation of something delicious has never done anything to help to satisfy my cravings, and just makes me feel miserable and deprived in the long-run!
If, in fact, you do manage to make a “healthy” version of a millionaire shortbread which does taste good, you’ll most likely find that they aren’t particularly ‘healthy’ at all. They’ll probably have a very similar nutritional make up to the original version, BUT because you’ve been told that told they’re a healthier option, you’ll probably think it’s okay to eat more of them.
Now imagine that you’re free from all the guilt, labels, and judgement around food…
…you’d probably have plumped for sitting down and enjoying a delicious slice of some real gooey chocolatey shortbread-y goodness. Mmmm. I mean, we all know it’s always going to taste better, AND you probably would be satisfied by just eating one. And even if you did have more, that would be totally fine, because you enjoyed it.
I can’t stress enough that we should all be free to enjoy delicious food without being made to feel guilty for it, without being made to feel we’re cheating on our diets, and without feeling bad about ourselves.
Food is meant to be enjoyed, and it shouldn’t come with a side order of “I really shouldn’t but…”
I really feel very passionately that delicious food is a pleasure which is essential for a healthy mind and happy wellbeing.
We should all be focusing on eating food that we enjoy, food that makes us feel good, and free ourselves from the arbitrary rules that are thrust upon us from so many directions.
All food is guilt-free when you stop thinking from the (horribly ingrained) diet mentality. There are no good or bad foods. There are no should or should nots. There is just what is right for you, in any given moment.
Also, we should take a moment to have a look at the price tag of these “healthy” alternatives. Let’s go back to those healthy millionaire shortbreads for example:
£4.99 for 200g versus £1.60 for 200g.
Crikey. That’s over 3 times more expensive!
For that price tag, it would be fair to expect some pretty magical health boosting properties, and yet, that’s not what you get.
Have a look at the table below: they’re so similar, and actually the “healthy version” has MORE sugar per 100g than the traditional version. Which rather leaves you wondering what the point is and whether it is really fair to describe these as having a “nutritional twist”.
£1.60 for 200g versus £4.99 for 200g
|Typical values||traditional||“guilt free”|
|– Saturates||7.7g||7.3 g|
|– Sugars||42.3g||45.7 g|
My main point is not to pick on anyone in particular who still peddles the “eat like me, look like me” philosophy, or to tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat.
All I want to do is to open up the conversation and to get you thinking outside of the diet mentality box.
If you genuinely prefer the “heathy” alternative, then by all means eat them and be happy!
I don’t think it’s healthy for our minds to think of food as “healthy” or “unhealthy”. I mean, it’s just food. We don’t all enjoy the same things, and what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for someone else, and that’s totally fine.
The more we recognise this, the more we’ll come to understand that we aren’t meant to all look the same way either, and that’s okay too!
But I write this for the people who still believe, like I did, that by buying and eating the “healthy”, “guilt-free” alternatives, they’re getting their hands on some sort of culinary miracle with amazing nutritional properties and zero calories, when they’re not. Save your valuable time and money.
Don’t fall for the hype. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Are these feelings you can relate to?
I work with women one-on-one to help them learn to love the skin they’re in, no matter what.
If you’d like to learn more about my coaching, do get in touch by emailing email@example.com, and lets see if we can get you feeling happier, healthier and more positive!