How to Let Go of Stupid Food Guilt this Holiday Season

Our episode of the Jeff Probst Show airs today (Friday)!  To find out when it’s on in your area, click here.  Also, check out the webisode we filmed in our mega fancy green room here.  Man, I REALLY love saying things with inspirational music playing in the background! If you’re a newer reader, hello and welcome!  This is the appearance snarking post that got us on the show.

I hope you had very happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones! I sure did, I love getting together with family and my uncle cooks a mean turkey.

However, for many of us who struggle to lose weight, that turkey has a big black cloud hanging over its head (legs? thighs? you know what I mean) because it symbolizes the start of the holiday season, a time of year that is full of opportunities to eat and drink crap.

This is not a ‘back on track’ or ‘Thanksgiving detox’ post.  The internet is full of those; I’ve even written one before.  Instead, I’d like to talk about a nasty, pointless habit that tends to hang around during this time of year, that you need to understand and then kick to the curb in order to make a lifelong commitment to health where you’re not a miserable, crazy bitch.

That habit is FOOD GUILT.  I HATE food guilt.  First of all, it has led to the existence one of my least favorite things in the entire world, which is when people say “I can’t have that, I’m trying to be good” or “I ate such-and-such, I was bad” as if overeating is some kind of frigging moral issue.

Food guilt is especially ridiculous because we need food to survive, no matter what.   If you feel bad about sleeping around, you keep your pants on.  If you feel bad about drinking too much, you lay off the sauce.  But if you feel bad about your lunch, dinner is still coming a few hours later; which can put you on a vicious cycle on this cycle of repenting three times a day forever.

This is how my food guilt cycle used to go:

Step 1) I’d eat too much or eat the wrong thing.
Step 2) I’d feel really bad about it.
Step 3) I’d attempt to reverse what I had done by obsessing over how to “reverse the damage”.
Step 4) I’d stick to that for a few days, but then because I’d be starving and coming from a place of feeling like shit about myself, I’d overeat again.

Then I’d be back to Step 1 again!  Oh, how my life changed once I learned to insert Step 1a, where I’d realize it was just fucking pie and then I’d move on with my life.  It got rid of all the other steps and my extra weight, too.  I’d say that after my decision to love my body no matter what my weight, it was the most important change I’ve ever made for my health.  I wasn’t walking around feeling bad about food and trying to make up for it all the time, so creating healthy habits became no biggie.

I know that “Stop feeling guilty!” is one of those infuriatingly simple directives that is so much easier said than done, right?  I’m going to give you a few action steps to get you there, as well as some stuff to think about.  So if you’re feeling like a bloated mess and terrible about everything you ate this weekend, use those swollen fingers to pull up a chair!  We’re gonna get you food-guilt free.

First and foremost, comfort yourself.  You’ve been beating yourself up way too much.  You ate something you wish you hadn’t, and that is okay.  Seriously, give yourself a hug, get some extra sleep, do whatever you can to best express to yourself the sentiment of “I love you, self, and I always will no matter what you eat.”

Secondly, take a little time to ask yourself – really and truly, why did I eat that?  If the answer is ‘Because I absolutely love it/because I was craving it big time/because it was an important part of really enjoying the day’ then I think you can just let it go!  A life where there’s no room to savor some junk food when the time is right is a life that sucks.  You will know deep down whether your choice came from a destructive or constructive place.

If the answer is ‘Because a food monster took over my body/because no one loves me/because I don’t love me’ then you can still let it go, but consider talking to a counselor who can help you to heal from your emotional eating issues.  That might be the last thing in the world that you want to do, and it takes a some time to figure out, but it beats trying another stupid diet like that’s going to solve things.

Lastly, figure out what you can learn from it.  Listen, everybody (and every body) has different needs and sometimes the best way to figure out our limits is to go beyond them.  I’m talking about figuring out what foods and food groups work and don’t work for your health, as well as what is a trigger situation that you should just stay away from completely. I still can’t really keep dry cereal or jars of peanut butter in the house because I just eat them all in a flash and UGH have you ever had a peanut butter hangover?? Worse than booze, I swear.

I have found that with regular exercise and healthy habits in general, regular indulgences totally work and don’t lead to weight gain. Just do your best to keep guilt out of the equation, which turns food from this fun delicious thing that nourishes you to a crazy monster who is out to get you.  Move those monsters out of the way, and suddenly it becomes much easier to move on and figure out what your body really needs moving forward.  If there is absolutely no way you can attain your goal weight while taking junk food breaks for special occasions like Thanksgiving, then maybe your body just doesn’t want to be quite as skinny as you want it to be.  And is that really so bad?

No matter what, please remember – it’s just fucking pie.

16 Responses to How to Let Go of Stupid Food Guilt this Holiday Season
  1. Nela
    December 8, 2012 | 11:33 am

    Great article. I think holidays leave a lesser mark on our body than our day-to-day activities do. If you’re eating healthy all year long, why feel bad about a couple of cakes here and there?
    I know my sugar addiction is bad, but seriously, I can’t imagine not having cakes on birthdays, holidays and other special occasions… I just love cakes so much!

  2. Amy Raymer
    December 4, 2012 | 10:51 am

    What a great blog! You hit it right on the nail..we always say we have to start a diet after eating a wonderful meal. Just enjoy the meal and live a healthy lifestyle. :)

    • Marla
      December 6, 2012 | 9:09 am

      Thanks so much Amy! AMEN xoxo

  3. Kristina
    December 3, 2012 | 3:04 pm

    I was so inspired by your confidence in the TV interview that I had to check out your blog!
    Keep smiling!

    • Marla
      December 3, 2012 | 7:33 pm

      Kristina, thank you so so much for taking the time to find my blog and for commenting! I will keep smiling (snaggleteeth and all) and I hope you do too. <3

  4. Tapita
    December 1, 2012 | 3:25 am

    I just saw the show. You guys were great. My husband started talking when it started and I had to tell him to hush, my friend is on this show hah! He got confused and so I had to remind him of the dishes I have made for dinner that are from you and that you write articles that speak to me and how you promote a healthy potty mouth from time to time!
    I am still scratching my head over the comments made about your teeth. I do not understand why it seems so difficult for some people to be nice. It doesn’t cost a thing, it is free to give away and share. It isn’t even taxing on the brain or body.
    People can be so critical and isn’t it hard enough to listen to our own minds slipping in negative thoughts about ourselves? Don’t get me started on the snarky family members!
    I certainly didn’t notice your teeth, I noticed your smile.

    • Marla
      December 1, 2012 | 8:36 am

      Dearest Tapita, thank you so so so much for watching! You are THE BEST and the world is so lucky to have people like you, who believe in the power of kindness. I hope you and your husband have a wonderful weekend!

    • Yuliya
      March 1, 2013 | 3:00 pm

      I know I am late with this reply, but you are so 100% right – it doesn’t cost anything to be nice – why are people mostly mean and snarky and judgemental?!??

  5. gina
    November 30, 2012 | 12:51 pm

    hey Marla! Loved reading this…….I also have found with regular exercise and eating habits, I can splurge now and then and I also now have become more aware to ‘enjoy’ those splurges rather than turn them into a mean fest…..and I also tend not to overeat so much now bc I got sick & tired of feeling ‘sick’ from overeating……I eat more mindfully now and that has helped me tremendously!

    I can’t wait to see the show too…..awesome!

    • Marla
      December 1, 2012 | 8:25 am

      Dearest Gina, thank you so much! I am so happy that you will be enjoying your splurges this next month and not hating yourself over them! It’s always so wonderful to hear from you… I mean it when I say it made my whole day when I saw your name in my inbox at work last week. Have a great weekend, lovely!

  6. Loran
    November 30, 2012 | 12:53 am

    There is SO much freedom in the realization that it is just fucking pie! And the number on the scale is only a number. And our bodies are incredible and what a gift it is to be healthy. Another great post, Marla!

    • Marla
      December 1, 2012 | 8:18 am

      Thank you very very much Loran and so true – with how much focus we can put on how our bodies look, it is so easy to lose touch with how lucky we are to have the gift of health. I smell another post coming, thank you for the comment and the fabulous idea, my friend. xoxo

      • Loran
        December 1, 2012 | 9:38 pm

        Always willing to oblige! Can’t wait to read it.

  7. Toni
    November 29, 2012 | 11:08 pm

    Great post!!
    Food and food guilt consume too much of our precise time. I think if your eating generally pretty clean (good) then there is nothing wrong with a lash out. Actually its part of a healthy balanced diet. I’ll be eating that f@#king pie and lovin’ it!!

    With love Toni

    • Marla
      December 1, 2012 | 8:16 am

      YES TONI! thank you so much! Save me a piece of that fucking pie, please. <3

  8. tokyotutti
    November 28, 2012 | 5:00 pm

    can’t wait to see the show friday!
    great post, i totally agree. what are the holidays without a little fun food cheer?

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I'm Marla Hamilton, and this is my blog. I write it because I want to make it very easy for you to feel healthy and great about yourself.Read more about me here.
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