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My food routine is off and I feel guilty, What do I do?

How often when your routine is thrown off do your food habits seem to go out the window? A lot of us struggle with food in general, but even more so when our routines are thrown off or we are out of our normal day-to-day life.

It’s easy to start reaching for the snack foods, the easy foods, the takeout, etc. when you’re already feeling overwhelmed.

And then it’s easy for the false guilt to set in because those foods have been labeled “bad” in your mind. Or maybe you start to not feel so great physically and so you start to beat yourself up for the choices that you’ve been making.

Sound familiar? I get it. I struggle with this myself. My husband and I just made a big move across the country and the last couple of months have been very chaotic and we have been out of our normal routines a lot. We had been eating a lot more takeout, easy to grab foods, and just not quite as well as we normally do. And even when we were making “healthier” choices for takeout, I was still finding myself being hard on myself. The conversations in my head would go something like,

“You’re not good enough, you can’t even cook dinner,” or “Eating like this isn’t helping you physically or mentally.”

Do you recognise those voices? First of all, if you do, you’re not alone. Secondly, we’re going to practice combatting these lying voices so that you know how to stand up for yourself.

Let’s practice. A few things to evaluate when these voices come up:

  1. Is it true? For example, are you really not good enough just because you don’t have energy to make food, or are you doing the best that you can and making the best choice for yourself in that moment?
  2. Is it helpful or hurtful? Does this voice/this saying help you love yourself and make the best choices for yourself, or does it hurt you and tear you down?
  3. If it’s helpful, acknowledge the truth, make whatever change you need, and move on. If it’s hurtful, rewrite the script to something that is helpful.
  4. Is this statement coming from you or is it coming from someone else? My therapist once encouraged me to name the voices in my head—where did that thought/criticism come from? Did it come from you or did it come from someone else? Write some statements from YOU for YOU that you want to start focusing on.

Finally, I don’t want to neglect the fact that food really does impact how you feel—and that’s a legitimate reason to not want to eat takeout all of the time. But I also want you to understand that there is a difference between not eating this way because of how it makes you physically feel and how it makes you emotionally feel. Let’s break this down a little.

Physically: when you feel bad in your physical body based off of what you’re eating. It can include stomach aches, fatigue, nausea, foggy brain (feeling like you can’t think clearly), etc.

Emotionally: when you are having a mental battle with yourself. This can include guilt, shame, criticism, ugly voices, etc.

So the next time that you are feeling bad about your choices, evaluate whether you’re feeling bad because of a physical reason or because of an emotional reason. If it’s an emotional reason, combat the voices. If it’s physical, maybe add in some more foods that help you physically feel better. No matter what, remember that you are not alone! Struggling with these feelings and voices are normal. You are not less than because of them. And food wants to be your friend—even takeout.

Abby Horst Mallard

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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