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November 9, 2022

🌿 Intentional Living: Turning Guilt into Gratitude 💚

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In This Issue:

Featured Wellness Message: Turning Guilt into Gratitude

Recommended Resource #1: Joyful Eating for Your Family (Facebook Group)

Recommended Resource #2: How Many Emotions Can You Name? (YouTube Video)

My Psychology Today Article: Is Food Guilt Complicating the Way You Eat?

Turning Guilt into Gratitude

woman in blue cap and red sleeveless dress

When family, friends, and food come together, gatherings can be joyous and meaningful. For some people, though, get-togethers can be tinged with food guilt or body shaming, making getting through the party challenging. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Focusing on gratitude, rather than guilt, can take the scrutiny off bodies and food. One way to do this is to be aware of body-checking behaviors; if you notice self-critical thoughts, acknowledge them, offer yourself compassion, and remind yourself what you’re grateful for, such as, “I am grateful to be able to spend time with people today” or “I am enough just as I am today.”

If conversations veer toward dieting, losing weight, or body size, walk away or change the subject. You might interject, “I hear what you’re saying about ______. And something I’m grateful for is ______.” This brings the topic back to what the moment is really all about.

Whatever celebrations you have with family and friends, I hope your time around the dinner table is filled with joy, acceptance, and appreciation.

In health and with love,

Dr. Gia

“And so it is that most people have no idea how beautiful the world is and how much magnificence is revealed in the tiniest things, in some flower, in a stone, in tree bark, or in a birch leaf. The grown-ups, going about their business and worries, and tormenting themselves with all kinds of details, gradually lose the perspective for these riches that children…notice and love with their whole heart.”​​—Rainer Maria Rilke

Joyful Eating for Your Family (Facebook Group)

Find and offer support in this free online community

Parenting can be next to impossible without some form of support. Especially when it comes to establishing a foundation for raising healthy and confident eaters. In the previous issue of this newsletter we talked about the importance of helping children remain intuitive eaters, that is, to relate to food in ways that integrates their innate instincts, emotions, and rational thinking process to nourish their body intuitively. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially if you're going it alone.

That's why I appreciate what the free, private Facebook group Joyful Eating for Your Family is doing to support families. Founded by registered dietitian nutritionist and mom of three Nicole Cruz, the monitored group is devoted to helping individuals and families feel confident in their approach to feeding and finding food freedom. Following rules such as refraining from using the word "overweight" and avoiding labeling foods as "unhealthy" or "healthy," members are encouraged to pose questions and share resources in a safe and supported environment.

The adage "It takes a village" is true. You can feel less alone in struggles you or family members may have by joining a community, even an online one. And even if you're not struggling, I hope you'll feel empowered to share what's worked well for you. You can be a bigger help that you know.

How Many Emotions Can You Name? (YouTube Video)

Brené Brown's latest book, Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience, describes 87 human emotions that each of us has access to. Yet, based on her survey of 7,000 people, most of us identify with just three felt emotions (sad, happy, angry).

Why is this troublesome? Because, according to Brown, "language does much more than communicate what we're feeling, it actually shapes what we're feeling.”

For example, you might say you are “anxious.” However, anxiety, stress, and excitement create similar sensations in one’s body. But they are all very different experiences. Would you feel "excited" or "anxious" as you wait for a friend to join you for dinner after a few years of separation? Would "stress" or "anxiety" describe what you feel if you were finishing up work for the day and rushing home to pack then catch a flight for a vacation? How about if you were waiting for results from medical testing?

The emotion words you choose may capture your experience or shift it. A rich emotional vocabulary can change your life and offer you a greater awareness of feeling grateful.

If you struggle with food guilt, this book may be just what you need to find out the primary emotions that are under the guilt. Not only that, once you develop more emotional fluency, you may be able to cope with distressing situations without turning to food in the first place.

Is Food Guilt Complicating the Way You Eat?

Say good-bye to feeling guilty about what or how much you eat.

For many of us, eating is a whole-body experience. We don’t just bring our physical hunger to the table, we also bring our food-related judgments, along with our emotions. Unfortunately, many individuals experience self-criticism, anxiety, or stress after eating. These judgmental, negative thoughts about eating may lead to feelings of guilt.

​Food guilt is feeling as though you have done something wrong after eating. Typically, this occurs after eating food that you or others perceive as “unhealthy” or “bad.” Food guilt may also occur after eating a certain amount of food, after eating between meals, after snacking, after unplanned eating, or with eating after dinner.

It is common for many people to experience guilt after eating at one time or another. After all, no one has a perfect relationship with food. However, if food guilt occurs often and you are preoccupied with food or you alter your normal eating patterns (such as limiting food intake, skipping meals, banning certain foods, or starting a diet), this is when it may become an issue. If left untreated, food guilt may lead to disordered eating or impact your health, coping mechanisms, happiness, self-esteem, and relationships.

Treatment for food guilt is possible. Understanding primary and secondary emotions when it comes to eating can help. To learn more about how to identify and manage the emotions underlying food guilt, ready my full Psychology Today article.

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