Our food culture places value on categorizing foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Not a fan of this approach, I prefer a ‘sometimes’ and ‘more of the time’ view of food. None-the-less, if certain foods feel forbidden, having strategies to tackle these feelings can be helpful.
Foods can feel forbidden because individuals:
- Lack trust in themselves around the food.
- Feel like they may fail around foods (eg, office candy dish, donuts during a meeting).
- Feel deprived or have restrictions around food. This can backfire causing individuals to desire the foods even more.
If you feel that certain foods are forbidden, try these strategies when having them:
- Do so when you are peaceful rather than stressed, angry, or upset.
- Establish, in advance, how much you feel that you will need to eat to enjoy, but not overeat the food. Is one scoop of ice cream enough? Can you satisfy your desire for cake with one slice?
- Be curious and mindful while you eat the food; savor it fully.
- Determine what is enjoyable about the food. Is it really as enjoyable as you expected it to be?
- If it is good, appreciate it. If it is not as enjoyable, then stop and try to remember your experience for the future.
- If you overeat the food, forgive yourself. It happens. No one eats better by feeling guilty about food.
Food only has power if given it. So, resist the urge to label foods as totally off limits. Approach them as foods that you eat occasionally and mindfully enjoy each bite.
Happy and healthful eating,
Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN