“...food eaten in secret is delicious.” - Proverbs 9:17
No really, that’s part of a verse in the Bible, as many a chubby churchgoer will tell you whilst chuckling. Bryan doesn’t know the verse, but he does know a thing or two about hiding his eating habits.
He’s tried every diet in the book. He’s even had success with a lot of them. But he always gave in to cravings: dollar cheeseburgers, ice cream, potato chips...basically anything sounds good when you’re on something like a shake cleanse diet. Those secret food dalliances led to guilt, which led to more eating, and more guilt. Eventually, that guilt killed every last one of his diet efforts.
Guilt is a strong driver for some people who are seeking to lose weight. For many like Bryan, it only pulls them further and further away from their goals. To get where he needed to go, he needed to slay the guilt.
There’s actually some science behind the shift away from guilt. Recent research at the University of Canterbury found that people who feel guilty while eating things such as cake have less control over their eating, and struggle to maintain their weight over an 18-month period.
The researchers polled 300 people on whether they felt chocolate cake was associated with celebration or guilt. 73% said celebration, 27% guilt. A year later, the guilty folks had gained significantly more weight, while the partiers tended to lose weight.
The point? Your attitude toward food may have as much of an effect on your diet success as what it is you’re choosing to eat in the first place.
Guilt and other improper emotional connections to food are often core to eating disorders such as bulimia. Food and the act of eating, at least in moderation, should always be celebrated. Even if you do go overboard at the buffet, don’t beat yourself up - consider it fuel for your workouts over the next few days, and leave it at that.
In general, bringing guilt upon yourself is rarely a good idea. Oftentimes, you’ll get the opposite of what you’re looking for.
Bryan’s life changed when he decided to ditch the ridiculous diets and the guilt that they made him feel when he did normal things, like having an occasional handful of chips, or sharing a piece of cake with his daughter. He focused more on eating better foods, but stopped beating himself up for being the kind of example that Proverbs spoke of.
So go on, have that piece of cake, and feel good about it. It’s even more delicious when eaten not in secret, but with friends.
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