Guilt: Your Spring Break Diet
Belmont's spring break falls early in the calendar - the first week of March. With the thought of being in a bikini in a mere seven days, every girl I know is "kicking it into gear" until Saturday. I, however, don't have to worry because I will be dressed like a marshmallow, bundled up in my ski gear, as I cruise down the mountains of Colorado for spring break. Nevertheless, the amount of disparaging comments that I've heard girls make about themselves recently caused me to think about an emotion that too often infiltrates our battle with diet and self worth: guilt. I'll start by saying that I am guilty of everything I am about to talk about, and that's why I want to talk about it. These habits that women develop are toxic, and the emotions associated will transcend throughout your social circle and beyond. Guilt starts with one little comment: "I shouldn't eat this." And, you know what? You probably shouldn't. More than likely, if those words come out of your mouth, it's because the item you're about to ingest is unhealthy, the last bite of a huge portion, and something that your body doesn't need. I don't like when people combat the guilt issue that surrounds food by saying, "Eat it, you deserve it! Live a little - do it if it makes you happy!" Comments that encourage eating for pleasure associate emotional happiness with indulging in food. Don't get me wrong, I love eating and I love food, but if food is where I find my happiness, I will become dependent on eating to determine my mood, my self-confidence, and ultimately my self worth.
However, I normally become sad when I hear someone say "I shouldn't eat this", even though I've done the same thing myself, because food should not be a prison. You are never going to get slapped on the wrist or put into time out because you ate something that wasn't good for you. When you talk about eating or not eating as if it is a punishment, you become a slave to food. If it's not good for you, yes, maybe you don't need it, but your decision whether or not to eat it should be inside your head, not out loud for the world to feel judged by.
Ultimately, saying "I shouldn't eat this" attaches the emotion of guilt to your eating habits for you and everyone within earshot. What if the person next to you has a plate loaded with dessert and you are complaining over a tiny morsel of cake? No, they aren't making a healthy choice, but guilting them into healthy eating will only reinforce an emotional tie with food.
Health is about more than just what you eat. I'm a huge advocate for nutrition education, but I also believe that emotional health is just as big of a piece of the puzzle. If you eat an incredibly healthy diet but beat yourself up emotionally, you haven't succeeded. More so, you will never impact positive change in anyone else's behavior by becoming a slave to food.
Our bodies are a gift that we should fuel with proper nutrition so that they can work to the best of their ability, give us long lives, and look their best. Don't let guilt define your diet, and say no to food slavery.