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The Food Guilt Phenomenon

HolidayGuiltIf there is such a thing as a perfect eater, a model muncher, a flawless feaster….I’m not it. I’m well aware that I splurge a little too often. I cannot avoid a sweet treat after a meal, be it a piece of fruit or a piece of dark chocolate. And when I get a little too busy or stressed, I fall victim to the quick bite to eat, which we all know is usually not the healthiest bite to eat.

But even when I’m in a stress-filled daze and make some of my poorer eating decisions (think potato chips, Wendy’s, chocolate), I practice portion control. I try to stay active so that those poor choices don’t destroy all of my hard work and so that a week of imperfect eats don’t pack on 10 pounds. And, at this dangerous time of the year, I’m trying to skip dessert unless it’s an absolute must-have option for me. (My weaknesses? Carrot cake, tiramisu, chocolate.)

Clearly, I’m not perfect. So one of my biggest pet peeves is getting picked on by dining companions for “being good.” Anyone who regularly makes healthy choices has probably heard the same thing. “Oh, you’re so good!” “Oh, look at you, skipping dessert.” “Oh, look at you with your to-go box!”

It might be your mom, it might be your Aunt Sally or maybe a socially unsavvy coworker, but I’m willing to bet that most of us have these food commenters in our lives. And I’ve caved to peer pressure before in situations like this. I’ve ordered dessert when nothing was really lighting my fire. I’ve gone back for seconds just because everyone else was doing it or someone commented on my food choices. I’ve felt silly for trying to eat healthy. When actually, what these finger-pointers are actually saying is, “Oh! I know I’m eating unhealthy foods, and I feel guilty for it!”

The take home message? Skipping dessert doesn’t mean that I’m chronically depriving myself. It might mean I don’t want it. It probably means I already had a cheesecake already today. But it doesn’t mean that I invite your comments.

If you’re a food commenter, think before you comment. And a reminder to all who eat: You’re not answering to your dining companions. You’re answering to yourself and only yourself. So stop the food guilt and embrace your choices. Hopefully they’re healthy more often than not. —Erin

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