Does Eating Bad Food Make Me Bad?

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Recently I attended a family function that included a large variety of food. Typically, I look at the options and select foods I know will make me feel the best (or at least that won’t make me feel terrible!) to fill my plate.

Then…I saw them. A large pan of brownies sitting there all sparkling and delicious.

I don’t typically eat much sugar, but on this particular day, I was drawn to that pan full of ooey, gooey chocolate. As I reached for a small square, my mind immediately raced into action with punishing thoughts…

“What if someone sees me?”

“They know I’m a Health Coach, will they judge me for eating this?”

“I wonder how I can burn off this brownie tomorrow.”

“What kind of an example am I being to those around me?”

And the thought that allowed me to put the brownie on my plate: “I’ve been really good…it’s ok if I just have one…or two.”

But instead of feeling justified with my decision, I felt horrible after eating the brownie. After giving myself permission, I couldn’t even enjoy eating it. The self-punishing thoughts continued…

“I’m so bad for eating that brownie.”

“I’m such a hypocrite…saying I care for my body, but I obviously don’t.”

“See…I really can’t get a handle on my health.”

How often do we feel that we are “bad” for eating something “bad”? When women talk about their diet, they often say, “I was so bad this past week.” It’s as if the food we eat determines what kind of person we are.

I’d like to suggest another way of seeing things...

When we crave “bad” foods, what if it is actually a “good” thing?

Cravings are our body’s way of letting us know something needs to be nourished. At the time I ate that “bad” brownie, my sister had recently died, I had been on the go non-stop, I was nearing the end of a two-week battle with a cold that grew into a sinus infection, and I had been experiencing a lot of personal discouragement and self-doubt.

So, instead of being a “bad” woman who ate a brownie, I was a woman who needed nourishment in the form of encouragement and support. My body’s craving was asking me for these things, but I grabbed something easy to deal with it.  Had I taken just a moment to listen and ask myself what I really wanted, I would have realized that having a meaningful conversation with someone or getting out in the sunshine would have been more nourishing than the brownie.

The next time you find yourself craving, get curious.  Stop and ask yourself what it is that you truly want in that moment.  If it really is a brownie, go ahead and eat it…and know that it doesn’t make you “bad.”

But also give yourself the opportunity to decide if a good book, a long bath, or coffee with a friend would satisfy that craving even more.

Here's to Loving the Skin You're In,