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    Hey! I'm Beth - a 27 year old foodie living and working in the Washington, DC area who has lost almost 90 pounds through Weight Watchers. I love good food, wine and getting creative in the kitchen, and then balancing that out with running, The Shred, and yoga. Please feel free to browse around and hopefully you'll find some ideas, recipes and motivation!

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Breaking the Cycle

It all started with lunch last Thursday. My office got lunch catered for a meeting, and I decided to eat my pre-packed lunch instead of going for the sandwiches/chips that were brought in. I was proud of myself for sticking to my plan, but then I noticed a bunch of my coworkers eating these delicious looking chocolate chip cookies. You know the ones packed with equal parts chocolate chips to cookie, so when they bit into it you could see the melty chocolate oozing out? Those ones. I enviously looked on as my coworkers devoured them, but I told myself I couldn’t have one – that I’d have my apple for “dessert” instead.

NoCookies

Well, long story short, the meeting ended, and I found myself near the cookies in the room, so I let myself eat one. It was AMAZING. Every bite was just as chocolately and delicious as I had imagined it would be. So I ate another one.

And then I ate 5 more.

SEVEN cookies in total.

Seven.

I barely even tasted anything after the first one, but I was rebelling against the rule I had set for myself allowing no cookies and it obviously backfired.

After the cookie incident, the day went further downhill from there. I went out and got frozen yogurt in the afternoon, despite already feeling pretty ill. Then after work, I ended up going to the mall to browse around for a while and then meeting up with my boyfriend for dinner. I didn’t overeat too much at dinner because I honestly was feeling pretty full/sick from the sweets, but then we got home and I wanted more dessert, so I ate about 1/3 of two large bags of granola, so about 6-8 servings of granola. Plus several squares of dark chocolate.

Needless to say, I woke up Friday feeling like crap. My stomach was so full and gassy and I looked and felt extremely bloated. I was also just generally down on myself from letting things get so out of control the day before.

unhappy

The old me would have allowed this to break me and feel very angry with myself and guilty for overdoing it so much. I would have restricted heavily on Friday, causing myself to go into another binge as soon as I couldn’t resist the feelings of deprivation any longer, thereby reverting back into the destructive cycle of eating that lead me to be obese for so many years.

The new me, though, forgave myself. I realized that what triggered this out of control eating pattern was restricting myself and not allowing just one or two cookies during lunch, which could have prevented me from eating seven and feeling so terrible for the rest of that day and the next.

I think one of the main ways I’ve grown throughout my healthiness journey is by looking at imperfections as learning experiences rather than failures, and by learning to get back on track sooner rather than punishing myself for messing up. While in no way was I proud of my behavior on Thursday, I think its important NOT to punish myself for messing up, because it will inevitably lead to more messing up and will continue the destructive cycle rather than breaking it.Β  I’ve learned that when I mess up, I need to just accept that I fell off the wagon and try to figure out why it happened. Was I being too restrictive? Was there other stuff going on in my life that was causing me stress? Was I feeling frustrated about not being one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to think about what they eat? Was I out with friends and just wanted to say “screw it” and have a good time?

Even if I can’t figure out exactly why it happened, I need to forgive myself. I started the next day with a healthy and nourishing breakfast and luckily already had a workout planned for after work that day. Getting a healthy meal and a workout on the schedule as soon as possible is a key for me, not for punishment, but because they make me feel good.

Do you suffer from food guilt sometimes? How do you bounce back?

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71 Responses

  1. Wow, Beth. Thanks for posting this. It’s very reassuring to see that even though you’ve come so far, you’re human and you make mistakes just like I do!

    Congratulations for getting right back on track. I’m still learning to do that after going overboard.

  2. This stuff totally happens and I’m so glad you aren’t beating yourself up over it. Whenever I have a “bad” food day I just start back over the next day. And you’re right, normally it’s because I’ve been depriving myself of sweets or something. I think it’s so important to have room for a little sweet everyday. πŸ™‚

  3. I needed this post! I rejoined Weight Watchers back at the beginning of December, and it’s been pretty smooth sailing so far. It started with jelly beans for me last week, though, and I’ve been gradually descending into old habits for the last several days.

    What really shocked me is how quickly I slid back into the mental game of beating myself up over what I ate, even after several great months of healthy moderation. Thankfully I feel like I’ve turned a corner, too, and I’m more able to “keep calm and carry on” than I would have been before. It’s been eye opening, though, because it was like I could feel those old neural pathways opening back up. Not a good feeling, and it reminded me how glad I am to be in a better place now. Thanks for writing about this. πŸ™‚

  4. Such a slippery slope, isn’t it? I’ve also found that if I tell myself “I can’t have any” I end up sneaking & gorging on the crappy food. But if I say “sure, enjoy a slice of cake” then that’s perfectly satisfying! I do certainly still have slip-ups, but I think you hit the nail on the head – bouncing back is what’s important!

  5. Yes Beth I experience food guilt — and although I feel like I am “better” than I was a few months ago, it still happens. And I do the all-or-nothing thing until I feel sick.

    I’m glad you were able to recognize what happened and that you forgave yourself. Your body feels bad, why beat yourself up even more? I appreciate your honesty in this post!

  6. Thanks for your honesty Beth. My worst overeating is related to nights out. Booze and eating junk go hand in hand. I need to figure out that moderation thing still

  7. Deprivation is the quickest way for me to do something like that, too. I think for many people it is, we just don’t realize it right away. My friend did the exact same thing over last weekend and I watched her do it. The “f- it” attitude just totally takes over if you don’t let yourself have a little “give”.

    I just try and remember how awful I feel the next day. Because yeah- it’s no fun.

  8. Great post, Beth!!! You and I were thinking along the same lines this morning =)

    I think it’s important to recognize what triggers binges. And I also think you are definitely on the right track about the speed of recovery. I think that’s something that Weight Watchers really teaches us–the most important thing is to pick yourself up after a mistake. That way, it’ll be a small event in the scheme of things–rather than a month (or longer!) of poor eating that would be harder to come back from.

    Great job!!!

  9. I echo a lot of the sentiments aboveβ€”I needed this! I’m the worst when it comes to food guilt, though I know I shouldn’t be guilty over what I eat: I should own it and take responsibility, brush my shoulders off and start again. I love cookies, too, but that’s really how I am around a loaf of French bread. If I don’t eat any, I’m ok. But if I allow myself “just a pinch,” before I know it, I’ve scarfed down the whole loaf.

    I still struggle so. much. with binge eating. I don’t know how to control it. It breaks me. While I’m trying to figure my own eating habits out, it makes me feel a lot better knowing that there are tons of other people out there who feel the same way.

  10. I definitely suffer from food guilt, and I’m not sure how to deal with it soon. Right now I let it defeat me at times. I’m trying to change my way of thinking and acting. I guess the first part is acknowledging that I do have food guilt and what I need to do is stop the action that leads to the guilt.

  11. I am so glad that you shared this. I have a tendency to start thinking that people who are successful with WW could not possible still eat 7 cookies, and the reason that I am not successful is because I still do. Thank you for reminding me that success does not equal perfection, but rather awareness.

  12. Agreed – it is calming to know that I’m not the only one who has slip ups with food! Of course I suffer from food guilt – for me it is all about managing it. If it happens one day, I have to close that day off and just move forward. Not always easy, but if I let it carry on past one day, that’s when all hell breaks loose!

  13. It’s great to read such an honest post about something that happens to us ALL! Your way of dealing with your feelings and getting back on track so quickly is just spot on and proof that you’ve come so far in your healthy living journey – I hope to be there soon oneday too πŸ™‚

  14. I suffer from massive food guilt. And once I fall off the wagon on a certain day, it’s usually all down hill from there. I say to myself, well the day is already wasted, may as well go out with a bang!! Recognizing it is the first step to stopping it, but that doesn’t always mean that I do.

    If I do fall off the healthy wagon, I just start the next day anew as if yesterday didn’t happen.

  15. It can be really hard to go back to healthy eating habits after getting away from them, even for a short time, so props to you for doing it.

    I think they key to recovering is to getting back to your “normal” healthy eating habits – e.g. the fruits, veggies, lean proteins that you normally eat as opposed to a compensatory crash diet – as soon as possible. When I overdo it on chocolate treats, the next morning I’ll make sure I drink a lot of lemon water, eat some greens, and get in a sweaty workout. Usually gets rid of that sugar hangover pretty quickly.

  16. Kudos to you for learning how to forgive yourself that is so important for moving forward.

    I really think that has been the key in my journey as well. Thanks so much for your brave, honest words πŸ™‚

  17. Thank you so much for posting this Beth – what a great post. I am glad to know we all go through this and it’s not just me. You have changed for the positive, whether or not, you can see it on a day to day basis. We, your readers, can see it – in your eating habits, schedules for the week of food – I envy your planning and your point of view! Keep up the great work πŸ™‚

  18. Love this post! Thanks for being so honest with us. I struggle with food guilt all of the time and find it hard to forgive myself. I do however always try my best to get right back into the healthy way of life

  19. I’m so impressed with your honesty and openness! It’s so hard to stay on track, when you have a day like that, but you KNOW You can do it!!! I’ve totally been there, (I would devour entire bags of pretzels in the car or something, being totally unable to stop at just a handful.) But you’ve come this far, you know you can keep going!!

  20. Thanks for sharing! I always try to remember that if I make a bad decision, it doesnt mean that my whole day/week/month is ruined. Thats the nice part about WW!

  21. Thank you for sharing this Beth! I have gone through similar experiences and years ago I would have blown a whole day, week or weekend. For me, usually the cause is stress and I just have to recognize it before it gets out of control.

  22. I definitely empathize with you here! I have been on the on again/off again roller coaster for a month now because I let little things like one slip-up derail me. It’s good to hear that it’s possible to get back on and forgive myself. Way to go with showing yourself some mercy and hopping right back on it!

    For me, I’ve noticed a pattern of sugary indulgences so I’m going through a sugar detox right now to curb the cravings. It’s rough (3 days in) but hopefully will get better! πŸ™‚

  23. What a great post Beth. Sometimes the hardest part for me is not what I did but WHY I did it. Spending some many years not thinking about food makes it very hard to understand how my body works with food and why.

  24. WOW, cookies also started my downward spiral last week and it just seemed to continue. Monday I picked myself back up and got back on board. I think I also learned my lesson, because I spent most of Monday on the toilet. Why do they have to make food with things that you have never heard of or can even pronounce!

  25. And this is why I love reading your blog. You are so honest and you put things I’ve been thinking into words! I’m learning that getting back on track as soon as falling off is no longer a “punishment,” it’s a reward because I feel so good when eating right and exercising.

  26. Upward and onwards. I love that you are honest about your mishaps. It’s nice to see when other people go through the same thing as you.

    And I am glad you are learning from it. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, then they are just mistakes–nothing more. But now, it’s a life experience that you can grow on.

  27. This sounds like something I would have done. Last night I binged. I counted it all – but it was there regardless.

    Sometimes I think my “binge monster” will always be around to show herself whenever the time strikes. In the past 6 years on WW though I have learned to live with her, accept that she will make mistakes and that I can track, move on and still LOSE. Plus, the fact I’ve kept weight off for 6 years is amazing to me.

    So, I still have times when I eat like this but as you say, you have to forgive yourself when those things happen. Because they will when you least expect it. Food guilt happens to me a lot, but I always start new and eat fresh the next day. Also, running helps tremendously! Great post.

  28. what an honest post. we all do that sometimes. I remember when I used to work in a different office that I could say no to a cupcake or cookie in front of people but then when no one was around after lunch, i’d go back and feel so guilty and secretive eating it. why is that? i should have just had a half and moved on, but i kept thinking about it. it happens, move on. i do eat a chocolate mint or something after lunch. i feel like i always need something sweet to end lunch or dinner, but that’s another story!

  29. Great post once again! Thanks for sharing this real and honest part of life. And congrats on forgiving yourself. My theory is this is life – cookies will happen – and you have to allow yourself to have a cookie sometimes. It’s taken me about 30 years to stop torturing myself and beating myself up for those slides.
    Jump right back up on the horse and keep moving forward!

  30. Best advice of the century: “The new me, though, forgave myself. ” Love this. love love love. I completely agree that you need to treat yourself with the same kindness and forgiveness you would treat anyone else. I also think it helps to think about how you would advice another person in the same situation- I think, ‘if I had a daughter or a best friend who felt the same as I do now, what would I tell them to help?’ And then, as hard as it can be, I do that.

    Thanks for your honesty and beauty Beth. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it and applaud it πŸ™‚

  31. Isn’t it funny how we can gorge ourselves and not taste any of it–or enjoy any of yet–yet we can’t stop? I’ve had those days where I just gave up and ate like mad. I didn’t enjoy any of the food I ate after the first few bites. It was just wasted calories. 😦

  32. I totally relate to that cookie thing…

    But the bounceback is amazing !!!

    You are an inspiration to many !!

  33. Just in the last few months I’ve realized that all food has a place in my diet – I have a bagel once a week, I have my 18 point pizza over the weekend – typically if I ate more than 2 slices of pizza, I would just say “forget it!” and eat like shit for days (weeks, months!).

    Somehow I have made the switch and I am controlling the food and not letting it control me. And I’ve lost almost 10 pounds in the process! πŸ˜€

    Great post!

  34. Thank you for being so honest in your post Beth ! I am sure you and I are not the only ones who can relate to what you did. I still battle all or nothing food behaviors on a daily basis. I am so glad you forgave yourself and moved on- so important!

  35. beth – i have SO been there! it was once i truly gave up restricting my diet that i found that sense of balance. it took me a long time to realize that messing up said nothing about me, my character or who i was as a person. it happens, and the sooner i let it go, the better i ultimately feel. tomorrow is a new day sister – and your attitude and post WILL inspire many!!

  36. Hi Beth, I’m new to your blog, but am so appreciative of this post! Thank you for being so honest and open about the slippery slope, it’s one I’ve fallen down many many times. I’m starting to get things back on track and you are an inspiration – thank you!

  37. Isn’t it funny that, for as far as we’ve come, it is so easy to go right back?

  38. Oh, goodness I have been THERE! You did just the right thing by not restricting the next day. I found that one of the biggest helps to stop the cycle. Awesome post!

  39. Again, you write a post that is unbelievably timely for me! Just before I stopped over here to visit your blog, I literally just finished writing a blog post about how I am doing really well right now, but I am feeling a little bit scared of slipping and the guilt that goes with it. Regardless of how on track we are, slip ups can still happen. I think you are so right about the difference between then and now being how you choose to respond to the slip ups. Sounds like you got right back on track and reminded yourself how amazing we all feel when we are making healthy choices for ourselves!!

  40. Thank you so much for posting this. I suffer from food guilt all the time, and I usually respond by restricting myself 2x as much as before.

  41. I’m so glad you posted this. You have such a positive outlook and I’m really impressed! It’s so easy to slip up and then feel so down on yourself. Nice job! πŸ™‚

  42. Thanks for posting this. I totally know the feeling of eating seven cookies, and not tasting them at all.

    I usually respond by restricting myself, basically going on a crash diet, which usually backfires by making me feel more deprived, which makes me want to binge even more.

    I am learning to bounce back by eating healthy, whole foods, and avoiding the foods that make me feel like crap, like processed foods and simple carbs, but still making sure I eat enough. And I try to get some exercise. That usually makes me feel better.

    My goal, more than getting out of the mindset that I should punish myself for slip-ups, is to get out of the mindset that the food I choose to eat should ever be considered a “punishment.”

  43. Ugh, this is my biggest struggle. I’m trying to take a different approach this time, and while I’m following WW, I’m trying to be kind to myself for any deviations I might end up taking. Obviously, beating myself up about it, hasn’t worked.

    I heard something once that resonated with me. If you’re driving in your car and using a GPS and you make a wrong turn, it doesn’t tell you to just forget it and drive off the nearest cliff. It figures out a new route and tells you to make a u-turn and get back on track. So I try to remember to tell myself that just because I had a bad meal, or day, or week, that I can just make a u-turn, and I’ll be back on my way.

    And thanks for having the courage to share that story. Obviously your words have resonated with a lot of people. πŸ™‚

  44. thanks for sharing this. I too experience food guilt. I also sometimes go completly off the rails at times. I begin to think that the day is already ruined so I might as well just go crazy and eat anything I want. I want to get to a place where I can look at the next meal as a chance to get back on track and not just say screw today since I overdid it already.

  45. great post! I need to read that other people do this same thing! I have days like that too…something just goes wrong and I end up eating. It all starts with restricting myself like you said, then ends terribly. Makes sense I guess…our bodies are like rebelious teenagers! So now I allow myself one meal, usually sunday night, where I don’t restrict myself. I don’t go crazy, but I don’t plan that meal I just let whatever happens happen. It helps me a lot with the rest of the week when I feel like I am sacrificing too much. Of course monday workouts always kick my butt in the end, but the food and feeling of carelessness on sunday is worth it! In the past I would have definately had a screw it attitude and undone months or hard work by just giving up. The new me learned it’s ok though! The next meal or day or workout or whatever is a fresh start!

  46. Great post! Your honesty and willingness to forgive yourself are KEY! I’ve been there and the guilt afterwards is just additional pain – it doesn’t teach you much. Being human, we are not going to do this perfectly- so these things happen. But they don’t have to put us back where we used to be.

  47. Awww Beth, I’m super proud of you for not being self destructive and restricting the next day! I have been there and done that many times (still happens, too!) and it’s an awful feeling all the way around. Your outlook on this event is just what everyone needs to hear though: just take it as a mishap and get back on track the next day, while trying to figure out what triggered it. You are such an inspiration:) This post was exactly what I needed today, thank you!

  48. I really like your philosophy on this. That series of questions you posed, trying to evaluate the cause- I think that’s key. asking those kinds of questions has been hugely important for me and makes what I eat NEXT after an unfortunate sideline, a more intellectually driven, than emotionally driven thing.

    For me I don’t suffer food guilt, but there is a tantrummy 2 year old/ teenager inside me that doesn’t want to be bothered with eating right and working out, doesn’t want to think about consequences, so my frequent battle is around quelling that inner child with calm reason. I often use the same set of questions you listed above, to find a reason and an alternative to use in a similar situation in the future. Around healthiness, I often feel like I am parenting myself!

    I love the theme you add about self-forgiveness- also key, and probably needed to move on to effective problem solving.

  49. Beth I’m so glad you wrote about this! To be honest sometimes it’s intimidating reading your meal planning posts after I’ve had a day when I’ve eaten over my daily points and I ask myself why I can’t plan as good as you can! I often have those moments when I have eaten something I regret and I think the key as you pointed out is to learn from it – recognize that you can just allow yourself a treat next time and not go overboard!

  50. What a beautifully honest post! I particularly love when you said “The new me, though, forgave myself” πŸ™‚ So wonderful!

  51. This happens to all of us! If I feel guilty about eating something, I usually try to work extra hard at the gym either that day or the next day. That usually makes me feel better πŸ™‚

  52. I’m still working on forgiving myself when this happens to me. I think it’s healthy to note that it happened and just move on.

    When I feel guilty or I over-indulge, I try to drink a lot of water. It helps me feel like I’m full. It almost always stops me from having a full-on binge.

  53. I feel exactly same as you!
    I am so glad you share with us!
    I give some cheat day for myself which is on weekend. I eat as much as I can then I feel so guilty and sick. But next day, I try to get back to where I should be.
    it is hard but other wise, I have to go back my past habit again. that can’t happen!

  54. 😦 I’m sorry you had a rough day but I am so proud of you for working on learning from the binge than beating yourself up about it. I’m definitely guilty of doing that a lot and forgiveness is hard. It’s good to see and hear about other people forgiving themselves, too, just so I know I’m not the only one out there struggling with these same issues and that it’s hard even for people I look up to to forgive themselves, too. We’re all human. Mistakes/bad days/old habits happen. But as long as we brush ourselves off, love ourselves unconditionally, and move on we’ll make it! πŸ™‚

    hang in there! You’re doing great! And you’re a great inspirtation – bad days and all πŸ˜‰

  55. I love this post. This just makes you even more real. I have been there too. Sometimes I have to remind myself that can and should eat the “cookie” just so I don’t go head over heels off the the deep end. Thanks for being honest, this will inpsire so many people to forgive themselves for over indulging.

  56. Such a wonderful, well-written post Beth! Good for you for not only forgiving yourself, but looking at how the situation fits into a bigger picture.

    Forgiveness and understanding that no one is perfect I think is a life long practice for those who have struggled with their relationship with food. And your message is so great.

    I do struggle with food guilt, but try to create “safe” indulgences to teach myself the power and possibility for control. This will be a lifelong practice though.

  57. so proud of you for the new attitude!! i’ve definitely done the same thing before and it’s amazing that you were able to turn it into a reflection of how much you’ve grown. you rock!

  58. Thanks for being so honest! You are right that the best way to bounce back is to identify what you were feeling and why it happened, and then to get right back on the bandwagon. I know that for me, extreme deprivation plus stress can certainly lead to a slippery slope of overdoing it.

  59. What a wonderful and personal post. I think most people go into denial about eating those cookies. You showed how to own it and move on. Thanks Beth for sharing.

  60. I try really hard not to feel guilty about what I eat. If I want something indulgent badly enough, I’ll let myself have it and just enjoy it. I’m totally an emotional eater, though, a habit which I am learning to break but sometimes I’m not successful. If I eat “bad” foods for a couple days in a row, I start to feel bad about myself. I have to kind of mentally shake myself and just say no to more bad stuff until I’m back in the habit of only eating it rarely. I just go back to my normal number of calories/healthy foods, though, I don’t restrict.

  61. […] you SO MUCH for all your support on yesterday’s post. It’s sort of ironic how these types of behaviors have so much shame and guilt associated with […]

  62. I can easily chomp down ten cookies, and even though I know it ain’t right, I don’t care–at the time. Then on my next run, I feel it. Slogged down..it ways me down. I always try and shake it off and start over. Every day is a new day. We are perfect in our imperfections.

  63. I can relate so much to you its not even funny! Now when I allow myself to have a cookie I consciously prepare myself. I say “You can have one or two if you want” after that stop. But if I want the cookie that bad I give myself the one or two. I take it to where I’m going, put the package away and tell myself the food will still be there tommorow! I also ask myself “Do I really want this? Am I really hungry? Will this make me feel better or worsE? The usual answer is no, no, and no.

    I just recently stopped binging. It got really bad. But ever since I’ve had a more relaxed attitude I have not! Not to say there wont be days ahead of me…but the future looks bright!

    All or nothin mentality only goes So far.

  64. […] Breaking the Cycle […]

  65. […] from Beth’s Journey wrote about cheat days — those days where you eat one too many cookies and have to re-focus. We’ve all been […]

  66. Chocolate chip cookies do the SAME THING to me! Its incredible how we can lose control over eating.

    Good for you moving on and wiping the dust from your feet. That is whats going to help us keep out weight off.

  67. […] Featured Reading: Beth @ Beth’s Journey – Breaking The Cycle […]

  68. I’m also so thankful that you posted this because I struggle with this too. If I overeat, I feel so terrible about it. But when I just let myself have 1 cookie, I’m fine with it. Finding that balance, without going overboard, is still so tricky for me. It’s nice to know that even though you’ve lost so much weight, you still make mistakes too. I always think these women who’ve lost all this weight never make these mistakes like I do!

  69. […] not resisting the cookies in the break room at work, or going a little crazy on the chips at lunch. These things are going to happen, and the sooner I get over it and forgive myself, the better. I wish I could have embraced that at […]

  70. […] After having an overly indulgent several day stretch both food and alcohol wise last week, my body is craving a break. I use the term detox loosely, because for someone like me who is majorly prone to overdoing it, in no way do I restrict myself while getting back on track. I’ve written about this before, but it’s really important for me to make a conscious effort to forgive myself immediately once I’ve overdone it, so that I can move on rather than keep a destructive cycle going. […]

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