Food Shame, It’s a Real Thing!

Maybe you have not heard of food shame, but its a real thing and I bet I’m not the only one who deals with it.

Aside from anything made from chocolate, I love fried chicken (crispy, greasy fried chicken). I could eat it till I feel sick, but I don’t even have to eat it to feel badly. Sometimes just thinking about the fact that I want it can make me feel crappy and that’s because I know ‘I should’ make healthy food choices and fried chicken is not a healthy choice.  So by feeling ashamed of wanting (and sometimes eating) less healthy choices, I sacrifice a little bit of my self-esteem.  I know fried chicken itself doesn’t erode my self-esteem, but the fact that I can feel so badly about myself for wanting it, is not a healthy thing either. That’s food shame and that’s a problem for me.

Food shame is sneaky and creeps in to our thoughts. Its incideous that way.   It pretends to care about us, to have our best interests in mind.

“You will feel so much better if you eat this” shame says. “You will feel badly if you eat that, and you dont want to make the ‘bad’ choice, or the ‘wrong’ choice do you? You’re smarter than that, aren’t you?”  And before you know it, you feel shitty for not making the ‘right’ choice (maybe it’s eat the chicken and feel bad, or have a salad and feel bad because you still want the chicken).  For me its chocolate and fried chicken, for you it may be its chips, or soda or going days without veggies, whatever, it’s all shame.  It holds us down, it sucks our energy and makes us feel like bad people (ok, I may be overdramatizing, but shame is shitty).

Food shame may feel like a tiny thing for many of us,  something hardly worth a second thought.  But for me, everytime I have to decide what to eat is an opportunity for that shame creep in. Sometimes I may not even feel the it because its so inconsequential,  but the problem is that it all adds up. A little shame here, a little there, and before I know it, I am loaded down.  And when I’m already struggling with depression, this added shame can be the straw that breaks the camels back.

Depression and shame have a very close relationship in my life. Where there is one, there is usually the other.  But now that I know that, and I can talk (and write) about them both, it’s like shinning a flashlight on the monster under the bed; there’s nothing there to be scared of.  So this is why I’m sharing my food shame story.  I’m shining a light on it so that it doesn’t scare me anymore, and perhaps I can shine the light under your bed too.

img_2006.jpgYes, this is a box of fried chicken that I thoroughly enjoyed with my family.

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