It's the day after a holiday...

...and you're feeling guilty.  There might have been some extra decadent meals and desserts and you might be feeling shameful about your choices.  You might also be plotting and scheming about how to make up for those choices.  Some ideas might include starting a new diet, skipping meals and fitting in extra hours of exercise this week.  Want my advice?

STOP. 

There isn't anything wrong with looking back to evaluate what went well and what left you feeling triggered to use disordered eating behaviors and what you might want to happen differently next time.  Being willing to be curious and reflect can help you progress.  But if you look back and decide to "never eat ____ again", you're only perpetuating the problem.  By changing the way you think about food, and avoiding extreme (rigid or chaotic) thought patterns, you can build more positive experiences with food over time that help you make peace with food.

Health and wellness is much bigger than what you do or don't eat or if you do or don't miss a workout.  In fact, being preoccupied with thoughts of what you should or shouldn't eat or feeling guilt, stress and anxiety about your food choices will probably have a larger negative impact on your health than the actual food itself, not to mention that those feelings are probably what leads to the problematic behaviors in the first place.  It's a viscous cycle.  

If you're wary of giving yourself permission to not feel guilty, fearing that letting go of the critical voice in your head might make you lose control, please know that it's one step at a time.  Meet that criticism with some compassion and curiosity to create a more nuanced experience for yourself.  And, it it's helpful, I will do it for you.  You have permission to let it go.  You have permission to not lose another second of your life to food and weight anxiety or fear.  

Look back at this past weekend and take the food out of it.  Think about the loved ones you were with and the events that took place which made you smile.  At the end of it all, that's what matters.  Sow seeds to reap long lasting happiness.  Foster love, gratitude, compassion, patience, integrity...remember things that matter.  Food guilt only serves as a distraction from what matters most.  I'll make you a promise - as you start to focus on what matters most, the food guilt will take care of itself.  

Where do you go from here?  You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and you eat breakfast.  A satisfying, adequate, balanced, nutrient-dense breakfast that leaves you feeling full, satisfied and energized to live a life you love with the people you love the most.  Don't be tempted to skip out on that!

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD