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How do I get rid of the guilt, the shame, after a relapse in my compromised relationship with food?

Will my relationship with food ever become easier? How do I get rid of the guilt, the shame, and the icky feelings after a relapse?

I’m glad you asked. Like all things, I truly believe that we get better or they get easier with practice. Maybe things don’t always change. Or maybe we still struggle a lot. But I believe that with practice we get better and we get stronger—and thus we are better equipped to handle harder relationships with food. This is hard work and requires a lot of intentionalities. We don’t get stronger or better equipped overnight. And it also doesn’t happen by accident. So be prepared to put in some hard work when you’re working on your relationship with food. And also be prepared to become stronger in the process—making it feel a little easier each step of the way. You are worth the hard work and your relationship with food can become easier. 

When I first started my healing journey from bulimia and anorexia, eating food and my relationship with food was one of the HARDEST things in my life.

“It almost felt impossible to have a healthy relationship with food again. It did not feel easy.”

But I’m so thankful that today it is a lot easier for me! I have a healthy relationship with food again. I don’t overthink every single thing that I put in my mouth. Unfortunately, not everyone heals in this way—but there is hope. It can get easier. Keep getting the help that you need, asking for help, being honest with yourself and those around you, and putting one foot in front of the other.

Guilt and shame are some really tricky emotions. One of the most important things when it comes to feelings/emotions is to remember that they are all okay. All of the feelings are okay.

When you start to feel shame, guilt or just crappy about something you ate or a relapse, acknowledge what you’re feeling and allow yourself to feel it. Most of the time we push harder emotions aside and end up stuffing them down deep inside. This is not healthy for us. And, instead of working through the emotions when they arise, we push them aside to inevitably have to work through them later. So remember that all of the feelings are okay and you are allowed to feel them all. Remind yourself that this moment is one small moment in your life and that the next moment or the next day is a fresh start. I find it helpful to write these reminders on sticky notes and place them where you’ll see them frequently. Surround yourself with encouragement, truthful reminders, and people who will let you talk through what you’re feeling. 

I always recommend a therapist, a coach, or a dietitian when you’re struggling with these feelings as well. It is so helpful to have experienced/knowledgeable people to walk with you. Last, but not least, remind yourself to speak to yourself as you would your best friend. If your best friend was struggling and having the emotions that you are experiencing, how would you talk to them? What would you tell them? Then try to tell yourself the same thing. Look yourself in the eye in a mirror and give yourself a pep talk like you would your best friend. This will take practice, but over time it will help change the way you talk to yourself. It will help you have a little more compassion and love for yourself—and you are so worth it.

Abby Horst

A podcaster, wife, health/wellness coach, beach lover, and musician. She specialises in nutrition education, meal planning, and developing sustainable habits. She passionately works with her patients to help them build healthier and happier relationships with food, exercise, and themselves.

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