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Guilt Free Eating

February 24, 2010

So I’m back from my vacation (and currently fighting a cold), but if the cold is my payment for going on the trip… I’ll gladly suffer and breathe through my mouth for the next couple days.

And today, I’ve got a couple things swirling in my mind.   Primarily because I haven’t blogged for over a week but up to bat first, guilt free eating.

I went to Italy for a week.  A place with good food, wine, and gelato… and before leaving, I made a promise to myself that I would fully enjoy all of the food, wine and gelato that Italy had to offer.  I did not let myself down.  I ate gelato every day, sometimes twice a day, and one time- I had gelato 3 times in one day!  And I never felt guilty about it.  I enjoyed every bite.  The same for the food.  I wasn’t concerned about portion control or calories, I just ate to my heart’s content.

You would think this kind of guilt free eating would lead me down a familiar path of overeating or to be so gluttonous that I would overeat so much that I would become physically uncomfortable (which has happened to me more times than I’d like to admit).

But a strange thing happened by fully letting go and having no food expectations, limitations or restrictions: eating had no ulterior meaning for me.  And probably more importantly, eating had no power over me.  I ate to eat.  I ate to enjoy.  In many ways, it was the healthiest relationship I have had with food in a very long time.

It was so simple.  I was never unsatisfied (except for one night when I couldn’t find a gelato place open).  I was never overstuffed.  I was somewhere right smack in the middle of unsatisfied and overstuffed… a place where I don’t frequent much when it comes to food.

And within hours of being back on American soil, all the simplicity I had in Italy when it came to eating disappeared and my complicated, tumultuous, often unhealthy relationship with food came knocking at my door.  I judge everything I put into my mouth and since I am usually judging myself harshly, I get upset with myself and stuff down the pain with… well, you guessed it… food.  I’ve only been back for 2 days and I have stumbled right back into my old ways of judging myself for what I eat and feeling guilty about it, which then leads to overeating.

Was my guilt free eating only successful in Italy because I knew it was only for a week?  Because I was on vacation?  Because I was somewhere without any physical triggers?  Or for some other reason I haven’t tapped into yet?

One thing this little trip has taught me is that I do know how to have a healthy relationship with food and I can control my eating so long as I’m willing to give up control.  Now let’s see if I can apply this little trick to my life in the United States.  Maybe the only answer is for me to move to Italy full time… not that I would mind!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2010 11:57 am

    I think it’s very telling that american foodstuffs, which are usually crappy and overworked (100 calorie this or that) make us feel so judged and terrible and really wonderful food like in europe can just be enjoyed and you don’t worry about how much and how many calories. I really think quality food versus “diet” food would make us all feel so much more satisfied and healthier.

  2. HeatherJ permalink
    February 26, 2010 12:29 pm

    After over a year of intuitive eating, I still feel guilty sometimes. I overcome it by repeating the mantra “ALL food is good, ALL eating is good” over and over (by “all eating is good” I mean whether I’m eating out of physical hunger or eating emotionally etc). This really works for me – I manage to replace the negative thoughts with the positive ones. Writing it down over and over is also useful when I’m feeling particularly bad.

    Also, another thing I use is to think long-term instead of short-term. It helps if I remind myself that what I eat today is unimportant compared to the long-term improvement in my eating habits which are happening due to IE.

    • February 26, 2010 5:38 pm

      @heather j, I love that. I’m gonna have to try that and see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted!

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