Guilt and Eating

From an interview with Psychtherapist Andrew Walen, LCSW-C:

“First and foremost, you can’t overcome a feeling unless you identify the thought that led to it. For instance, if I say to myself ‘I shouldn’t have eaten that extra piece of cake,’ I’m going to feel guilty. I tell my clients to take all 'should’ statements out of their vocabulary. Shoulds are just ways to shame yourself. If I can even just make a small alteration to the thought and say, 'It would have been better if I didn’t have that extra piece of cake,’ that can lessen the intensity of the feeling. But more still, I would ask the client why it would have been better. Is it because they wouldn’t have a stomachache? Great! That’s a reasonable response. If they say, 'then I wouldn’t be so fat,’ then we’ve got some serious work to do. It’s this fear of fat that leads to weight bias, weight cycling, eating disorders, and self-loathing. All those are ways to punish ourselves, and punishment and shame never lead to lasting change.”

“For those struggling with food-related guilt, it’s important to work with a psychotherapist who treats eating disorders and understands how these types of feelings and thoughts create self-destructive behaviors around eating. A therapist can also uncover other psychological underpinnings to why a person might overeat such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, etc. and appropriately treat them as well. Working with an eating disorders dietitian is also a great idea to learn how to unlearn diet myths we’re inundated with in the media and learn how to nurture the body, listen to its internal cues for hunger and satiety, and find pleasure in eating again.”

Read the full article here.