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Why You Shouldn’t Feel Awkward About Dieting During The Holidays

November 25, 2015

 

Why do we sometimes subconsciously feel shameful for dieting and being healthy?

There really is no one reason why we might feel shameful for choosing to eat healthier, exercise more, or make any other healthy decisions because each of us is unique. However, some common reasons for this might include feeling guilt or shame because you’re getting healthy and others around you are not. Perhaps you feel ashamed for how hard you have to work to make lifestyle changes when a healthy life comes so easily to others. Perhaps you feel shameful for letting go of the old you, the one that used to get ice cream or go out for pizza with friends, or maybe you’re spending more time at the gym and less time with family. Whatever the reason may be the more important aspect of this is what this feeling of shame really means and how we can deal with it.

 

For example, if you feel shame for spending time in healthy pursuits and away from friends and family then perhaps you are actually experiencing fear of being rejected by your social group. Perhaps even thinking to yourself, “I’ll be different and unwanted.” Or, if you feel shame that you have to work so hard to resist tempting foods while other pass them up easily then you may actually be experiencing a challenge of comparison. Perhaps even saying to yourself, “I’m not good enough.” After all, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt. It is critical to identify these negative core beliefs as these are where guilt and shame stem from. 

Although, it is critical to identify this negative core belief we don’t have to allow it to dictate our actions. Nor do we have to challenge, change, or even pay it much attention. In fact, attention only gives it power! Instead of trying to challenge or change this belief… S.T.O.P.

  • Slow down – When you experience guilt or shame, slow down and take a long, deep breath.

  • Take note – What are you actually feeling? Fear of rejection? That you’re not good enough?  That you’re wrong for making healthy choices?

  • Open up – Allow these thoughts and feelings to be there. Accept them and observe them as if you’re scientist discovering them for the first time. Separate yourself from these thoughts. Treat them as meaningless words and phrases your mind generated. Then move on.

  • Pursue what’s important – Go do something that helpful, calming, exciting, fun, relaxing, or whatever makes you feel good! 

Repeat these steps as needed. The important thing to understand here is that we can’t necessarily get rid of these feelings of shame and negative core beliefs because more than likely they’ve been there a very long time. However, that doesn’t mean we have to let them control us. We can learn how to spot them, accept them, and then let them go so they don’t even affect us anymore.

3-4 reasons why we should not feel bad about deciding to diet

I don’t really tell people why or why not they “should” feel a certain way. Everyone is allowed to feel how they feel. If someone feels bad about deciding to eat healthier and exercise more then that is just fine so long as that feeling doesn’t get in the way of them making those healthy choices. I wouldn’t tell someone how to change or control how they feel. Many of us are under the illusion that we can have complete control over our emotions but this simply isn’t true. I’ll give you an example with a thought experiment called “The Polygraph.” Imagine that I’m a mad scientist and I’ve kidnapped you for an experiment. I’ve wired you up to a supersensitive polygraph, or lie detector. This machine will detect the tiniest bit of anxiety in your body. There is no way to trick it. Even the tiniest bit of anxiety and all the alarm bells will ring. You must not feel any anxiety at all and if you do, then I’ll pull this lever, which will electrocute you and you’ll be killed instantly. What do you think would happen? I know if I were in this situation I’d be electrocuted! Even though your life depends on it, you can’t control the anxiety. Therefore, it is not that we “shouldn’t” feel bad but instead we can learn how to deal with those feelings should we experience them. This can be done with the same technique described in the previous answer… S.T.O.P.

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