How to Lose the Food Guilt

I’ve read several blogs & articles recently about the benefits of having a cheat day on your diet. A day when you eat all the stuff you deprive yourself of the rest of the time: pizza, fries, cookies, mocha latte whatchamacallits.

Sounds like a great idea, except by using that word, cheat, we’re solidifying the guilt that’s so pervasive when we eat “bad” food.

Let me explain.

Words hold the energy and subtle messages of the way we’ve used them, in our life, within our family, even through the ages.

“Cheater!” my son yells as his friend muscles past him during a foot race; the other boy bursts into tears. From a young age, we know that breaking the rules is not allowed, and being called out for it can sting.

Cheat on a game, and no one wants to play with you.

Cheat on an exam, and you fail it or maybe get suspended.

“Cheaters never prosper.” The old adage reinforces the notion that anyone who tries to circumvent the established rules won’t succeed.

These message get ingrained in our psyche, part of the belief system that drives the choices we make. When we do cheat, it comes with a sense of having to look over our shoulder, to make sure no one’s looking. Even as we try to let the secret snacking out of the closet (pantry) by making a consciously chosen day of it, the word itself still binds us to that sense.

The result: Guilt.

I shouldn’t be eating this piece of cake.

I shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine.

I’m such an idiot for buying that bag of chips.

Now I’ll never lose those last few pounds/ balance out my hormones/ clear my skin/ _________.

How do you lose the guilt and get back to enjoying your food? Two Ways.

1. Change the Rules

Dalai Lama rules

In a nutritional flip-side version of the 80/20 rule, the cheat day means you eat according to your particular healthy guidelines 80% of the time, so that 20% of the time you can let them slide. It leaves room for being human.

Even highly stringent college courses only require an 80% average to pass.

The great thing about following the rule from this perspective is that you eliminate the need for perfection, a state that’s nigh impossible to achieve. Heck, even when you get to the place you define as perfect, a new standard or option comes into view and raises that bar out of reach yet again.

By shifting your mindset about what entails success, you can relax around the notion of “wrong”, as it becomes part of the learning process of the journey. You introduce ease and choice into the equation.

You can calm down on a day without coffee, knowing that if you really want/need one, it’ll be ok. You can dig into that kale salad with more gusto when it doesn’t feel like a life sentence.

2. Change the Word

As I said before, my main contention with the practice of a cheat day isn’t the theory, but the language.

To extract the guilt, why not call it Permission Day?

Now that word opens possibilities. When you’re allowed to do whatever you want, that sense of ease expands even further.

But if I let myself eat that cookie, won’t I end up in a full-on backslide?

Given the green light, do you actually go fully overboard? The first time your curfew was extended past 10 pm, did you automatically get up to no good, or did it simply give you more time-freedom to hang with your friends as usual?

The more you adhere to whole food choices as the norm, the more your body will adjust to its benefits, and start to crave the “good” stuff regardless of what’s on offer.

Besides, I’ll bet that if you did go too far the first time you stayed out until midnight, the experience (i.e. the hangover) certainly taught you a lesson about your limits.

In the same way, a food hangover will call you out when you sidetrack too far. No need to kick yourself while it’s happening, your lack of sleep & bloated belly will tell you, and you can adjust accordingly.

The new word, permission, also adds a touch of reverse psychology. When the forbidden fruit moves to the other side of the garden, it loses some of its appeal.

There was a time, when I first cut way down on my sugar intake, that it was pure torture to go through the grocery line-up, with its rack of chocolate bars screaming my name. After several months of concentrating on whole food – mostly vegetables – I barely glanced at the candy. In fact, the thought alone of eating that much sugar now makes me feel ill.

Trust your body to know the right thing when it gets it, and to heal from an imbalance with grace.

What about you? Have you found a way to move past food guilt? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.


On Giving up Chocolate and Gentler Sacrifice

Don’t know about you, but getting into Daylight Savings Time always messes me up for a good week. My body & mind, having drunk in the desperately needed morning light for the past few weeks, feels slammed back into the funk & fog of winter darkness.

Considering the switch coincides with the first week of Lent this year, the timing is perhaps more fortuitous. Even though I’m hardly a practicing Catholic anymore, in recent years I’ve embraced these weeks around the spring equinox as one last dive into the workings of my soul before emerging fully into the bright months of the year. (Though the transition is the opposite in the Southern Hemisphere, the energy of reassessment still prevails.)

As a child, the conversation revolved around what we would “give up” for Lent – and it had to be something big, that would hurt, like candy. Chocolate…then wine, as I got older. It was expected but never fully explained.

The 40-odd days of Lent represent the time that Jesus spent wandering the desert and facing his demons, as a preparation for going forth with his mission. Fasts, vision quests, retreats – the idea of stepping away from physical needs & demands in order to strengthen the connection to Soul/the Divine is ubiquitous in spiritual tradition.

Without a solid grasp of this concept, though, my Lenten sacrifice inevitably felt like an arbitrary punishment for something I wasn’t sure I’d done. It perpetuated the idea that a virtuous act and an eventual reward (a new dress & some Easter chocolate) must necessarily involve just that: a sacrifice, a punishment, a price to pay. I’ve recently discovered how deeply held that idea has remained in my psyche, in my cells. (But that’s a topic for another day.)

I’ve come up against that same feeling of being randomly punished the first few times I considered a seasonal cleanse, or tried to give up a certain food for health reasons. I see it in my clients too. I can suggest a woman give up, say, dairy to reduce her fibroids & menstrual pain, then will inevitably have to talk her down from a ledge. Despite the much-touted health benefits of a detox, there’s still a lot of fear around being deprived or you’re missing out, or that you’ve done something wrong.

What is it about the idea of giving something up that reinforces the wall of resistance?

We live in a time of accumulation – the growth of the American Empire is a story of personal wealth. Be it money, property/stuff, fame; more = better. (And we wonder why we’re getting fat in the process!)

With the “pursuit of happiness” geared in material gain, the idea of letting something go can feel like you’re swimming against the current of your purpose. It can feel like giving up on your dreams because you can’t have everything. It can feel like a failure. And so we approach it kicking and screaming.

Albert Einstein made a beautiful observation:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

In the same way, we tend to measure that goal of “personal wealth” from the external. Rather than using the objects & opportunities around us as tools to serve our purpose, they have become our purpose.

Lent, seasonal detoxes, Spring & pre-Passover cleaning: all of it is meant to focus us back into what’s truly important.

You’re meant to use this time of year to re-prioritize your life based on what you learned during the inner quiet of Winter. Get rid of what’s getting stale, like last year’s flour used to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Release what no longer serves you, as you shed the wool sweater that’s now unnecessary.

Plant the seeds for the beauty you want to see blossom in the your life, your relationships, your health.

To help you with just that, I’m giving a free webinar, because what I want to see grow in this world is the number of women with the tools to live their outer lives more deeply connected to who they are inside.

Get in on the conversation right away: in the comments below, tell me what you struggle with when doing a seasonal cleanse. Or tell us your experience of Lent. When you share your piece, you open the possibilities for others.

Let the Love In

Inspired by Judy Chicago, I’ve created a virtual dinner party: One category of my blog will be dedicated to honouring women who I want as a part of my soul community. Each woman at my virtual table has a lesson to teach, even if it’s simply to inspire us with her ability to hold greater aspirations for ourselves than we’d ever thought possible. Each one will be a manifestation of the Goddess, a Wise Woman, a pilgrim on the road of the Sacred Feminine. I want to share the wisdom of these women as part of my community of support.

No matter how many times I watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it remains one of my favourite movies. No matter how old I’ve been at each viewing, there’s always some aspect that speaks to me. Holly Golightly embodies so many facets of who I’ve been/ wanted to be/ am:

Holly G

  • The carefree party girl.
  • The barefoot dreamer,
  • The spontaneous mischief make,
  • The gold-digger,
  • Or the scared & lonely girl inside.

Plus, she rocks those Givenchy dresses like nobody’s business.


It would be such a treat to have her (as played by Audrey Hepburn) at my virtual Dinner Party, to remind us all of the lessons of life & love she learns every time we watch.

The first time you see Holly, you’d think she’d read Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map. Even though she’s not sure what exactly she’s seeking in life, she knows what it feels like: quiet & proud (like Tiffany’s). If she “could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s”, she’d lay down some roots and call it home.

Tiffany's 2

But like so many of us, by looking for that sense of home in the arms (and wallets) of ratty, rich men – in the externals – she bypasses what’s most important, and frankly, what’s right in front of her face.

Yet, despite her feelings, she just keeps letting her fear of going hungry or being trapped in a cage drive her decisions.

Sound familiar?

It takes a great deal of hard knocks, and some harsh words from the one man who wants nothing more than to love her, for Holly to realize that she’s “already in that cage.” Built herself as she runs from preconceived notions she holds true.

A cage built by beliefs that no longer serve her.

Lately, I’ve likened it to being a rat stuck in the same spot in a maze. No matter how many new techniques, different doors, or changes of mindset I try, in the end, I’m right back in the same damn dead-end.

It’s got a big blaring label called “I’m not enough”.

At any given time in my life, the maze might have been my weight or another health issue, work, a love relationship, or my relationship to money. Inevitably I’d get stuck in a rut of poor discipline, energy or motivation…frustrated by a lack of tools, or not sure how to use them. Like standing outside Tiffany’s with my nose pressed to the glass, but unable to grasp what I want.

As Jack tells Holly, “No matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”

Fact is, I keep ending up in the same place because I’m like those flies in the experiment who don’t realize the cap’s been removed. Somewhere along the way, I was told to stay in a certain box, and so I made darn sure to keep myself folded just so. To fit some old, irrelevant, outdated, false expectations I’ve held for myself, others have had for me…or that I’ve assumed others have had.

So, Life just keeps bringing moments and people and situations, in an attempt to show us that the lid’s been removed, the box is disintegrated, the maze has an escape route. They show up again and again, telling us to lift our heads slightly and have a look around.

For Holly, it was Jack. Constant, devoted, and carrying a Tiffany’s box in his pocket for months.

All she had to do was open the door to the cage and let the love in.

Holly & Jack

Where do you get stuck?

If you were to peer outside your own sense of confinement, what would Love be there telling you is true?

If you had a hand to guide you over the threshold, where would it lead?

(When you share your thoughts in the comments, you open the door of possibilities for others.)

If you’re ready, I can be that hand for you. Show yourself a little Love for the month of February: book a free 30-minute Free Initial Consult so I can show you what the world outside the jar is like.

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