I Overate Because I Felt Guilty Eating

overeating-obesityWhat if I just have a small slice of raspberry cheesecake? I was good today, I deserve it. Maybe a bigger slice would be okay if I eat celery later? They would cancel each other out, right? Or I could eat the cake while jogging in place?

These are the musings of a young woman’s mind in a Yoplait yogurt ad. Sound familiar?

Does to me. Evokes the mantra that once ruled my twenty-something brain. Back then, food was both magic and evil. That’s a noxious combination, known to create obsessions and addictions. 

A person who feels guilty about eating often overeats. They obsess about food. Food calls to them. Think you’ve had a little too much? Feel guilty! Now that you’ve sinned you might as well go all the way. Besides, the Häagen-Dazs “good-feeling” crowds out the “guilt-feeling.”

Works the same with alcohol. To the Irish, spirits magically change your mood. But overindulging brings shame and disgrace. Imbibed a bit too much? Might as well drink more and feel better. The Irish have fairly high levels of alcoholism. It’s different in places where alcohol is simply a part of dinner. A good wine is a dining must in France. And alcoholism is low.

But back to eating disorders. Some are more serious than mine had been. Jenni Schaefer survived both anorexia and bulimia. She told the Huffington Post that you start to divide foods into “good” and “bad” until they all seem bad,

I was shocked by how (the Yoplait ad) really nailed it on the head. That’s exactly what I thought every time I opened a refrigerator door.

Experts worry that messages like these make the obsessive thinking seem completely normal, leading, alternatively, to too much eating or too little. At least Yoplait pulled the ad when concerns surfaced.

When I was struggling with my own food-obsession I was shocked to find a diet that proclaimed that food is good, not bad. Maybe because the book, Eat to Win, was written for athletes.

The notion that food is good and shouldn’t be an obsession had a profound affect on me. I highly recommend a healthy perspective on food that recognizes the need for both nourishment and enjoyment.

Note: I’m doing reruns for the holidays.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
I Can’t Believe I Ate A Whole Head Of Lettuce!
500 Calories + Pregnancy Hormones = Perfect Body
Beautiful Women’s Hips Are Thinner Than Their Heads?

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 1, 2014, in body image, feminism, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I think that add resonates because it is normal. It’s not right, but I guarantee most women and many men experience an unhealthy relationship with food at some point in their lives. It’s kind of like depression and suicide. I’d be willing to bet most people have considered suicide at least once in their lifetime, although most will never actually follow through with that action.

  2. Happy New Year !

    Aliosa.

  3. I can’t believe that’s a real ad– I don’t have a TV so maybe I’m just out of touch when it comes to advertising. My sister-in-law has a private practice for Eating Disorder treatment. She is really big on the whole “no food is evil” thing. She says to eat, enjoy it, and then let it go. Emphasis always on the “let it go” and stop obsessing about it. Food is amoral.

  4. I like that- reframing as food being good for you and not bad. I’ve gotten that before-but reading this post it really sunk into me a bit deeper in my bones. Not a bad way to start the new year. Thanks, and Happy New Year!

  5. Whenever I start to become more active and exercise more, I almost always use it to try to justify eating more unhealthy snacks. When I start to go back to my lazy ways, I’ll still find myself three-quarters way into an almost pint of HaagenDazs just to finish it all with the ‘I got this far attitude’, Through all of it though, I’ve never realized that discussing these kinds of thoughts with people I know could have lead to reinforcing the idea that they should be labeling foods inherently good or bad.

  6. I also open a refrigerator door even when I do not need anything to eat, and usually end up grabbing a bite of something not so healthy, which makes me guilty. I know that eating between meals prevents me from losing weight or staying in good shape. I think this Yoplait ad resonates with a lot of us and makes us think that their flavored yogurt product could be the best substitute for the real raspberry cheesecake. The fact that this ad was pulled infers that there are so many people suffering from eating disorder and also that it could have caused people to undergo the disease. Through this article I have realized how important and difficult it is for us to balance “nourishment” with “enjoyment”.

  7. I’m in school studying Kinesiology. Learning about how the body works is amazing, and it’s cool to learn how your body uses food to function. Food is good for us, it’s our fuel source. I think a small part of the reason why we’ve labeled food as “good” and “bad” is because we have put so many additives/preservatives into what we eat (pre-packaged and otherwise) and now it’s difficult to find non-GMO produce at a normal grocery store. Unfortunately most of the food available to us is lacking in one way or another or isn’t recognizable by our bodies (insert multi-vitamin here). We aren’t starving, but we are malnourished at a cellular level. This cellular malnourishment affects how our brains function and that can lead to our obsession with food, it certainly led to mine, and it’s not easy trying to fix it either.

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