Guilty feelings about food/diet?

January 15, 2018 - Evelyn Dorkel

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As a dietitian, one of my standard question during the initial nutrition assessment is: Do you feel guilty after eating certain foods? At least 80% of time, I get a “Yes” in response.


Our society is increasingly labelling food as good or bad. Saturated fat is bad, sugar is bad, salt is bad, carbs are bad, gluten is bad… Chances are you have heard these many times. But has feeling guilty about food helped you improve your diet? Probably not.


People who feel guilty after eating certain foods tend to focus on these foods which makes them even more interesting and irresistible. So, next time you catch yourself feeling guilty about certain foods, take a step back and look at the overall balance of your diet:

  • Have you had your 5 handfuls of fruit and vegetables today? If not, make a list of vegetables and fruits you like and decide how you can implement them more easily in your daily routine: e.g. fruit on your breakfast cereal/porridge, salad or piece of fruit/fruit pot with your lunch, vegetable soup, cut up raw vegetables or heated frozen vegetables with your dinner.

  • Make sure you have a protein rich food at every main meal to avoid cravings for sweets/snacks between meals. Protein rich foods include fish, poultry, meat, eggs, cheese, tofu, beans, lentils, peas.

  • Wholegrain starchy foods such as seeded bread, brown rice, whole pasta, wholegrain couscous, quinoa and oats contain lots of fibre which are important for our gut health, healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels and keep you fuller for longer. Have a portion of these at every main meal.


For your overall health including a healthy weight, focus therefore on 3 balanced meals per day (on most days), avoid skipping meals and manage portion size to your needs. Listen to your body to find out when you are physically hungry, eat slowly and stop when you are not hungry anymore.


Get rid of the guilt, an occasional treat can be part of a healthy diet, just make sure that you get your overall balance right and that you savour your treat with all your senses!


Evelyn Dorkel