A too familiar feeling you get after eating too much.
You feel guilty about what you did.
But what if I told you feeling guilty is optional? That no matter how much you eat, you don’t have to feel guilty?
Guilt, like every feeling, is created by your thinking. Our thoughts are not set in stone and we have the power to change them. Therefore, we can create feelings we want or not create ones we don’t want just by practicing thinking differently.
Guilt is created when you have thoughts that you did something wrong.
It doesn’t happen just because you ate a certain amount or type of food. If that were true, then if you were with a group of people where everyone ate the exact same meal they would all feel exactly the same after eating. The reason why that doesn’t happen is because we all think differently about the food we just ate and therefore we all feel differently. Two people could have the exact same meal and one may think, “That was a delicious meal” and they simply feel satisfied. The other may think, “I messed up, I can’t believe I ate that,” and if you’ve had thoughts like that you know exactly how full of guilt you’d feel then.
We just celebrated American Thanksgiving, and you may have felt some guilt afterwards. And now the holiday season has begun and you may be worried about feeling even more guilt. To help you set yourself up to feel less guilt during this time, I want to tell you about my Thanksgiving experience this year – how I ate plenty of food, more than usual, and I didn’t feel guilty at all after eating.
“Well, how much/what did you eat?” you might ask.
It doesn’t matter.
It’s not the amount or what, but how I thought about it that mattered.
To set myself up for success and to not feel guilty, there were two things I did.
One was that I made a plan.
The other was choosing to think thoughts that wouldn’t cause guilt.
I decided ahead of time that I would eat one plate of food. I also decided that I would only eat what I love, I’d check in while I was eating to make sure I loved it, and if I still had some room after then I’d eat the stuff I just liked. And my main goal, was to not get uncomfortably full like I have at pretty much every other Thanksgiving.
I set myself up to not feel guilty by making decisions ahead of time that I knew I’d be happy with the day of. Then before, during, and after eating, I thought thoughts that wouldn’t cause guilt.
I loved everything I ate. I didn’t feel deprived for not having eaten the things I didn’t eat because I focused on how much I loved what I had.
After I finished my meal, I felt proud of myself for only having had one plate like I had planned.
After finishing dessert, I was happy with the choices I had made. There were 4 dessert options. I chose 3 I thought I might love. I ate one whole serving of the one that was my favorite and some of the other two. I checked in and while I was eating those other two and decided I didn’t love them, therefore I didn’t need to finish them. I had already enjoyed so much food and I wasn’t enjoying these two all that much. So I pushed them aside and was completely engaged in conversation.
I stuck to my plan and focused on what would make me happy.
Then came the kicker.
After dinner and dessert were finished, another dessert was unexpectedly presented. It was something I knew I’d love so I went for a piece (although, once I bit in I found out there was a surprise filling inside that I wasn’t so excited about).
Prior to this I felt a little over full, but not uncomfortable. It was like a perfect Thanksgiving full – a little more than I’d like to be on a normal day, but it’s a holiday so it’s ok. I assumed this would be light enough that it wouldn’t have an effect on my fullness, but I was wrong.
After having this final piece of dessert, I hit a slightly uncomfortable feeling – something I really didn’t want.
Dang it, I had been doing so well and felt so good before. This is where the guilt would be expected.
Except it didn’t happen.
Because I chose to not feel guilty.
Guilt is a choice and it was one that I had no intention of feeling that day.
Yes, I shouldn’t have had that last piece, but I did. I ate it even though there was a filling in it that I didn’t really like, and I didn’t let it bring me down.
Afterwards I realized I could have just eaten around it, a “duh” moment now, but while eating I didn’t think of it.
Next time something like that happens I can think back to this and make a better choice.
It’s all about learning from those mistakes.
If you ate what you think is too much, you can either beat yourself up and think you did something wrong, or you can look back without judgement and figure out what you would have done differently.
What specifically can you learn from and how can you do better next time?
Then the next time you’re in a similar situation, you can be ready.
I talked about making a plan, decisions ahead of time. These decisions can be as specific as you want them to be and I’ll tell you, the more you make the easier it is to not feel guilty.
However, if I had made all those plans, followed them, and did feel guilty, maybe they weren’t the right decisions for me and next time I could plan differently. But since I was happy with them before I even got there, there was a strong chance I’d be happy in the moment and after as well. And even more importantly, part of my plan was to not feel guilty so that was kind of a sure thing.
Regardless of what happens, guilt doesn’t have to be an obligatory feeling every or any time you eat.
It’s up to you. Choose your thoughts wisely and choose to not feel guilty.