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Food Guilt: How to Eat Without Shame

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Food Guilt: How to Eat Without Shame

What brings you pleasure? Real pleasure, so rich and deep that even thinking about it creates a visceral response? Right now, see if you can list a dozen things that bring you shivers of excitement or delight, elicit little mmmmms of satisfaction or make your lights burn a little brighter.

Your sources of pleasure may be as mundane as getting a manicure, as spectacular as skydiving. But more likely than not, food is somewhere on your list. Nothing wrong with that… until there is. When food becomes the primary — or sole — source of pleasure, that’s when problems arise. Food as a source of pleasure is natural; it tastes good. It’s comforting and reliable. Compared to other sources of pleasure, it’s cheap, fast, easy and legal. And like some other pleasures, it’s addictive, shame-provoking and harmful when taken to extremes.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin P?

Food was our first pleasure. When we were babies, we cried for food; it filled our tiny bellies. It gave us comfort in other ways — we associated being fed with being embraced, with the sensuous delight of being cradled in loving arms, held close, cared for.

As toddlers and preschoolers, we were praised for eating; we were good little boys and girls for finishing our peas. We got cupcakes when our plates were cleaned. When we skinned our knees or banged our heads, we were soothed with cookies and kisses. The link between food, physical comfort and love became ever more inextricably intertwined.

Then, as we moved toward puberty, the tables turned — especially for girls. Suddenly, eating mounds of food wasn’t good after all. Suddenly, we were encouraged to minimize and restrict intake. “Don’t eat so much, or you’ll get fat,” we were cautioned by peers, mothers, fashion magazines. Being “good” no longer meant cleaning our plates. It meant restricting food in a way that was perceived to encourage slimness. We were taught to make self-denial more important than pleasure. That message was reinforced through our adult years. So, for many of us, the simple act of eating has become a torturous, tangled web of love, comfort, guilt, shame and fear.

If food is one of your great pleasures, then celebrate it, in all its lush, robust glory. Start like this…

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Lisa Turner

Lisa is a chef and nutritionist with more than 30 years of professional experience and formal training in food, nutrition and product development. She’s written five books on food and nutrition and is the creator of The Healthy Gourmet iPhone app, and has been a featured blogger for many national sites, including Huffington Post and Whole Foods Market. Lisa is a faculty instructor at Bauman College of Culinary Arts and also teaches food and nutrition classes and workshops to individuals and corporations. She's a black belt in Ninjutsu, an active volunteer in the Boulder Valley school lunch system, and an avid wild food forager.


+ add your own
11:07AM PDT on May 7, 2011

love my food

6:10AM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

my problem is I need to learn to eat slowwwlyyy

5:51PM PDT on Mar 13, 2011

Good article, thank you!

1:02AM PST on Mar 3, 2011

just when i eat chocolate

6:44AM PST on Feb 23, 2011

just cooking up some points for the animals ...

6:26PM PST on Feb 13, 2011

I love to eat :-)

2:52AM PST on Feb 13, 2011

It's all in moderation.

11:35PM PST on Feb 10, 2011

Enjoy your food. Take your time.

12:09PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Proud to be 99% vegan. Carbon and Karmic footprint very soft.

12:17AM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Great is OK to enjoy food...really.....

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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