Behind The {Mental} Scenes

Posted: October 3, 2011 at 7:07 am

Morning, friends! You may recall my not super balanced “lunch” of candy corn that I mentioned over the weekend.

Well, when I posted about Peter & I completely owning that bag of candy corn over the course of the weekend, I made light of it. Hey hey! I devoured a boatload of sugar. Whoopee! No biggie. Love me some candy corn goodness. Hip hip hooray!

You get the picture.


Well, when I wrote the post I truly did feel like it was “no biggie” in the grand scheme of things. I would be lying if I said it didn’t get under my skin at first.

The dreaded food guilt.

I know some of my triggers that will lead to the dreaded guilty feeling:

  • eating past a comfortable level of full
  • eating mindlessly
  • eating emotionally

Then, when reading a post last week by Lee on food guilt, something struck me for the first time – food guilt (and exercise guilt too for that matter) hits me hardest when I make unplanned less than healthy decisions.

So, a surprise baggy of candy corn gone in a matter of days equaled a twinge of food guilt. And Chelsey – don’t you dare go feeling friend guilt for my silly food guilt. Do you hear me?! I still love you mad…and the candy corn. Winking smile


It’s an interesting concept and crazy how I never fully realized that before. At least I can usually recognize food guilt, pinpoint the cause, learn from it, and move on relatively quickly these days. However, I still have things to learn and ways to grow.

I have no qualms eating less than healthy food at times. In fact, I believe it’s a necessary part of my eating habits so I can keep the road of balance and not revert back to how I felt during my first binge and the years that followed.

But perhaps, as Lee posed in her thoughts, food guilt can do good on some level. Perhaps it can positively motivate our eating habits. Or at the very least make us take a closer look. Just don’t take too close a look and bring it from self-aware to self-deprecating. Mmmkay? You (and I) deserve more than that. Red heart

  • What things set off food guilt for you?
  • Do you think some food guilt can be a good thing?

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50 Comments to “Behind The {Mental} Scenes”
  1. It’s funny that you posted this, because Will bought me a bag of candy corn on Thursday and I’ve been having him hide it in various placess around my apartment to prevent myself from eating the entire bag alone haha 8)

    But food guilt is DEFINITELY something I struggle with. Even having a few pieces of candy corn here and there (by few I mean a good 40 😉 ) I still end up with a slight feeling of unease. It’s usually at this time that I reach out to God and ask him to help me overcome this media-driven mindset. It’s so important to enjoy life too– We cant always be eating cardboard!

  2. Kara says:

    Food guilt can be a good thing if it inspires you to eat something healthy. I don’t really know, I’m not one to eat beyond the point that I meant to eat, if that makes sense. Sometimes I will add vegetables to our meal if the rest of the meal is somewhat unhealthy like pulled pork and macoroni and cheese, but I don’t replace any of the food with a vegetable. Let’s not get crazy.

  3. I still get food guilt, too. It’s usually when I’m not being active and eating junk I don’t even really want. Example: for me a cookie isn’t worth it because they aren’t that great to me, but we’ve had people dropping us off goodies and I keep eating them just because they are there. Ugh!

    • Tina says:

      I hate that so much – eating just because something is there despite not really enjoying it. I know exactly what you mean!

  4. i would agree that food guilt CAN be good sometimes, but you really have to know how to keep in contained in order for that to be the case. But we have emotions for a reason, and sometimes those reasons are not all bad!

  5. I think it’s just harder having suffered from an eating disorder to get over that food guilt. People who haven’t sufferred can have “food binges” which are far less extreme and have less long lasting detrimental effects to their mentality.

    I suffered from bulimia, binge eating disorder and anorexia and I most definitely feel it’s important to include not so healthy foods in my diet. I make a point of having two squares of dark chocolate every night to keep me on the straight and narrow. Deprivation just leads to cravings, and over doing it…leads to a mixture of more cravings and food guilt and sometimes over indulgence. I think over time it does just get easier that we can’t be perfect all the time and not to let one over indulgence run the rest of the day, week or even month! 🙂 Great post!

  6. I feel food guilt when I eat too much sugar. It’s the lack of self-discipline that makes me angry because I know I don’t need all that sugar, I just WANT it. Overall I have a healthy relationship with food and the guilt makes me motivated to do better, so for me it’s a good thing. If I don’t feel a little guilty, it’ll just lead to worse and worse eating, so the guilt helps me!

  7. Alexandra says:

    Awesome post! Food guilt and exercise guilt hits me when I make unplanned actions too, I think any form of change sends my brain outta wack. But I’ve been working on being more spontaneous and it’s truly been fun! God has opened my eyes and allowed me to see that one bad meal or one day of no exercise won’t kill me. 🙂

  8. Kelly says:

    Honestly? No. I don’t think food guilt is ever healthy. Ever. I think that food guilt gives waaay too much power to food. All food is equal. Not one single food will make you fat. Not one single meal will make you fat. It is just food. Now don’t get me wrong…I have food guilt too…but I hate it because I don’t think it is constructive. If I want to eat an entire pizza in one sitting I don’t want to feel guilty about it because I don’t do that every day or every month. I hate food guilt and I think it limits us as people and gives way to much power to food and food choices.

    • Tina says:

      It is such a fine line for me. I hate food “guilt” that leaves me feeling like I am any “less” of a person or less “healthy” or “good” or what have you. But I also know sometimes not feeling my BEST can motivate better decisions on the whole. It’s such an odd phenomenon. But I’m with you that any time food makes you feel like a “bad person” or question things like that…nuh huh. NOT cool.

    • Dominque says:

      I agree- food guild will never be a healthy thing in my eyes. We should all be aware that certain foods or practices (like skipping the gym, eating out of stress) can be detrimental if they becomes regular habits, but I believe there is a difference between that healthy awareness and food/exercise guilt. I see it as a difference between discernment (which can be uncomfortable at times!) and torurous obsession.

      PS…Tina, I’ve read your blog for a few months now but I guess I’ve been shy, because I realized that this is the first time I’ve commented. I love your blogging style and your attitude towards health, and FFF has become far and away one of my favorite blogs!

  9. Lori Lynn says:

    This is an interesting topic for me- I struggle with food guilt (and also as a result it leads me into feeling the need to exercise more), and usually when there is guilt for me, it pulls me into a cycle of regret. I’ve been thinking a lot about moderation and balance lately, and I think if you have that, then guilt won’t come into play. But I also think you have to be pretty secure with yourself in order to not let it bother you!

  10. Anna Marie says:

    I think food guilt can be both a good and bad thing. I know for me food guilt recently made me re-evaluate my eating habits and I realized that I was restricting my meals so much that later I would overeat way more than I should because I had not eaten a proper meal that day. So, now I am trying some new things and focusing on being healthy.

  11. I tend to feel the food guilt much more on rest days when I have no exercise planned. It’s like my mind is telling me since I’m not working out I need to compensate in other areas. Obviously, this kind of defeats the purpose of a rest day in some regards. I think it’s important to rest not just our bodies but our minds too and if that means having a few treats then we should enjoy them!

  12. Jess says:

    Bingo. That’s exactly when food guilt settles in for me – when it’s unplanned. Usually that means it was food I ate mindlessly and food I normally wouldn’t eat at that. So mindless, plus unplanned and food I don’t normally eat = mega food guilt for me. But since I know what triggers it, I try hard *not* to let those triggers push me into guilty territory. It’s hard though, nobody is perfect, we’re all bound to slip a little here and there, right?

  13. Oh food guilt…I hate it. But I definitely do get it. I tend to get it when I have unplanned junk food or when I eat it in larger amounts than I had intended! I think some food guilt can be a good thing because it can help keep you on track, but I also think there is a fine line between it being helpful and destructive to your psyche!

  14. I’m totally the same way. For example, I ate pretty horribly at the bachelorette party I was at all weekend during this past weekend– but I KNEW that I’d be eating badly, so it didn’t really bother me. On the other hand, when I decided to get M&Ms randomly as a car snack for the ride home, I felt pretty guilty– like I should have been able to make a better choice.

    Ahh, the fun of food guilt 🙂

  15. food guilt can be so lethal.

    HOWEVER.. I usually suffer from it a whole lot more when I’m just “eating to eat.” if I’m home alone and stuffing my face, I’ll feel much more guilty than if I’ve gone to a friends house, we’ve made homemade pizzas, and I went to town. maybe it’s all in the planning for me? If I plan to eat poorly, I don’t mind.

    ya know… if it’s with friends, it’s for a good cause. right? 😉

    • Tina says:

      At HLS one of the speakers made a comment about “social treats” and if you keep treats to a social setting they are more satisfying and usually breed less of those guilt emotions. I could totally relate. I don’t think it’s that way for everyone, but I know I don’t mind “social treats” more than just grabbing spoonfuls of ice cream from the freezer or somethign similar.

  16. I totally agree – it’s what is “unplanned” for me to eat that brings on food guilt a lot of times, along with the other reasons you noted: eating emotionally, overeating, and mindlessly eating. I also believe that a little food guilt can cause you to learn something about yourself and motivate you to make better eating habits and decisions afterward. Like you said, it’s just very important that we don’t get TOO caught up in it all and that we don’t dwell on it to the point of making us in a bad mood or depressed. Great post!

  17. For me, it’s exercise guilt! Like yesterday, I had planned to go for a run, but just wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t help but obsess over whether that was a good decision or not. Travis finally pointed out the fact of how much I had worked out all week, and that skipping a day (or two or three) was PERFECTLY NORMAL…in fact, healthy!! Why can’t I see that?!?

  18. I sit here, on a Monday morning, having slight food guilt from the weekend. Though I didn’t do anything HORRIBLE, I definitely didn’t eat as “clean” as I would have liked to. Two big beers and a bit of fried food yesterday left me feeling tired and lethargic. I feel like crap when I eat crappy. And then I feel guilty for not thinking through my impulse decisions to eat the crap that is around me, that everyone else is eating.
    I know that in the grand scheme of things, one bad meal or bad day isn’t going to matter. You definitely have to give yourself a break sometime and eat what you WANT. Luckily, I’m sure that most of the time, what you WANT is good for you- so you win in the end!

  19. jobo says:

    UGH I HATE food guilt. I started feeling it last night, myself, but quickly tried to turn it around and reason with myself that I didn’t truly overeat, I just ended up being glad I logged what I ate yesterday before diving into an extra glass of wine 😉 annnd now I want candy corn but I refuse to buy them because I KNOW I will eat WAY too many. Soooo good.

  20. I feel way too much food guilt and exercise guilt! I am trying my best to not and reading your blog and other healthy living blogs has really helped me overcome it! I feel food guilt the most about getting hungry late at night and eating whatever is easy and convenient. I also feel guilty if I know I’ve had more than one serving of something. Like I said I’m trying really hard to overcome food and exercise guilt and reading all of your inspirational posts are really helping! so thank you!

  21. Food and I still have a love/hate relationship. I get the worst guilt for indulging in unplanned treats during the week. For instance, I was super bummed last week when I had cake at the office. Oh well… you’ve just gotta suck it up and move on.

  22. Mellissa says:

    I try really hard to let the food guilt go, as long as the choices I make are healthy most of the time I am happy. Workout guilt is another story, if I don’t get my 4-5 workouts in I feel horrible guilt. Sometimes life and work just get in the way of that.

  23. Khushboo says:

    Mindless gorging triggers food guilt for me. It’s one thing if I’m enjoying and another if I’m just eating for the heck of it. While it still happens occasionally, I’ve become better at dusting the guilt off and starting afresh.

  24. Well first of all, I have to say I went to the grocery store yesterday to pick up my THIRD bag of candy corn of the season and they didn’t have it. HUH? Tragedy! They had some generic imitation crap that is not going to work for this lady 😉

    PB sets off my food guilt since I way too often eat straight from the jar and then eat the entire jar…oye.

    • Tina says:

      Yes. Only Brachs will do!!! And for the record – I ate one bag of candy corn every week in Sep and Oct while pregnant. I would buy some every weekly grocery trip and divide it into 7 small baggies to eat one a day. Love.

  25. I think food guilt is the hardest thing to every fully get rid of, even when you have a healthy mindset 90% of the time. I know I am struggling right now with having just had a baby and wanting to jump right back into getting my body back, but not having the energy or ability to really work out hard yet…that in addition to still being hungry and wanting to enjoy food and all the dishes that people are bringing us, I am really trying hard to listen to my body instead of feeling guilty over eating and not really working out.

    It is a constant battle!

    • Tina says:

      I know what you mean. After B things were a lot easier for me to get back into a groove because I knew what to expect…but it took a solid 2-3 months after M to have any semblance of my normal habits and routine. I just took it a day at a time and did my best. All we can do. 😉

  26. I still deal with this sometimes, too…basically when I eat something I don’t think I “need,” like ice cream! I try to remember that enjoying what I’m eating is the only thing that matters.

  27. Alyse says:

    Fast food sets off food guilt for me. I hate to eat fast food because it’s so unhealthy but also unethical. But once or twice a month I hit the drive-thru, and I don’t know what possesses me to do so. I feel terrible for days afterwards. It’s annoying that I eat it, then that I feel bad for it, BUT, I should feel terrible for it because fast food is awful on so many levels. 🙁

  28. Food guilt is not fun! I’ve gotten better about eating a little of whatever I’m craving to get rid of the craving, but those times when I eat way more of it than I know I should (even while in the midst of it), the guilt starts up. I end up kicking myself about it later and hate that feeling!

    Lee’s thoughts about learning from those behaviors and feelings is dead on. The only problem is remembering how you really felt in the moment the guilt hit. I wish I could bottle feelings because the memory of how you felt is never as strong.

  29. Kristina says:

    I feel the same way with food guilt–when I don’t plan to eat unhealthy then that usually means it was an emotional, impulse decision that wasn’t done in moderation. But when I think “I know I’m going to eat something off of the plan this weekend and that’s ok because I’m going to jump right back on it the next day” then I go into it with a much better mental attitude and I don’t feel the guilt. I feel in control of myself and uncontrolled eating is the source of my guilt. It’s all a process.

  30. Ohhh man I have the SAME problem with candy corn. It doesn’t help that my husband doesn’t like it because it just sits there…and I love it so much so I just eat it all. And then I feel awful. When I think about how much sugar that was it makes me cringe…but I try to remember that I don’t normally have that much sugar and that I can move on and be just fine. Won’t be buying another bag for a minute though. 😉 You’re right, food guilt is definitely something you can learn from and then move on from.

  31. I’m so glad you posted this–it’s something I’ve been thinking about/experiencing a LOT lately! The unplanned is probably the biggest thing for me too, but also eating later at night…even if I’m really legitimately hungry, which has been so challenging lately because I work until like 9pm and then come home super hungry so I eat something small and then I feel guilty about it. It’s definitely something I’m working on and trying to figure out more when it’s really been because I didn’t make a great choice or because I’m just beating myself up. I don’t think the GUILT is ever good, but I think self awareness of choices that don’t make you feel good is super important.

  32. Lee says:

    I definitely feel more guilty when I don’t plan to eat something junky. I think, though, that if I’m going to eat it, I should just let myself be okay with it. Because if my options are eating some junk and being okay with it or eating some junk and feeling bad about it, I’d rather not beat myself up. I think it’s important to learn (and this is sort of where I was trying to go with my post, even though I’m not actually at this point in my life), that being okay with eating something once in a while doesn’t mean you’ll automatically eat it every day.

    Obviously, I still really struggle with this though. Especially because in the past few years, as I’ve become less obsessive about what I eat, I have gained weight.

  33. I don’t really feel guilty about anything I eat anymore, but I do feel bad when I eat so much that I can’t even lie down without it hurting, lol. Then I just regretting overdoing it, but only because I wish I hadn’t made myself physically ill, not for any other reason. Guilt over food is a useless emotion to me now. I see that it’s counterproductive. 🙂

  34. Kat says:

    ah the dreaded food guilt… especially now that I’m pregnant, I feel it all. the. time. Was that really the best food to eat for baby? would I ever feed that to my child? That sort of thing… but I’m starting to think that maybe sometimes we have food guilt because *surprise* we’re not eating the best food that we *should*. Clearly, candy corn (or chips or whatever) is not the epitome of the healthiest food you could eat. Maybe it’s just the way our bodies tell us we could do better? I try to focus on the fact that 95% of the time, I live on green plants and healthy food, so if I want to overindulge a little (ie, this past weekend’s binge at Babycakes) from time to time, it’s OKAY (not to mention that after said binge, I ran the Disney half marathon). I think it’s just another way doubt can creep in and as long as you don’t let the guilt overwhelm you, it’s okay to feel it – sometimes it can be the nudge you need to get back on track and not continually binge day in and day out

  35. Such a great post. I definitely experience food guilt from time to time. It only happens when I get to that uncomfortable level of fullness, though. If I’m eating and eating out of hunger, and end up eating a ton of calories in a day, I blame it on hormones and move on. It really only becomes a problem when I feel so full I’m uncomfortable, which I try really hard to minimize! I find that when I feel an episode of mindless binging coming on, I envision how I would feel AFTERWARDS if I keep going– that really gets me to stop! I am working on thinking about what I’m doing in a rational way and a less emotional way. It’s a slow process but “food guilt” is certainly happening less and less often!

  36. Lisa says:

    Aw the Food Guilt. The bastard. I hate it. I get food guilt–even though I KNOW I can splurge once in awhile and be okay. I don’t know why it’s there and I wish I could get rid of it entirely….but maybe a little bit of guilt is good once in awhile. Keeps me in check.

  37. Amanda says:

    Good point on the unplanned indulgences triggering food guilt. I think I’m on that train as well. I have zero issue with going out to eat and cheerfully hogging the majority of the chocolate bread pudding and accompanying ice cream, but put me in front of a donut I wasn’t planning and the brain goes haywire!

    Oh well, if I eat it, I eat it. Doesn’t matter if it was premeditated or not. It’s just when it’s premeditated I’ve already accounted for. I do best when stuff is planned 🙂

  38. Anne Marie says:

    This time of year I own candy corn like it’s my job. I just can’t help it.

  39. I promise not to feel friend guilt for sending you a delicious bag of sugar. 😉 I get food guilt sometimes too – and yes, you’re right – it usually is moreso when I don’t “plan” to be unhealthy! Glad you got through it.

  40. It’s always the unplanned things that trigger food guilt for me. If I say, “I’m going to have x pieces of candy” and then follow through on that and only have x pieces, I’m fine. It’s when I say, “I’m only going to have x pieces of candy” and end up eating 10x pieces of candy that I get food guilt. I think that can be healthy, for sure, since obviously eating that much junk food is never good for you…but it can quickly become problematic, too, especially if x=0 all the time, you know? If you’re always depriving yourself of indulgent food and then experience food guilt because you allowed yourself to indulge (in moderation) once…that’s not healthy, imo.

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