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Sugar Guilt and Feeling Good About What I Put In My Body (WIAW)

To start, I need to premise this post by saying I feel fearful to say what I’m about to say.  I worry that it may come across as being restrictive. Please take this as a warning if you are recovering from an eating disorder and/or working on any kind of food guilt. If you’ve come simply for the food porn, skip the long ramble and scroll your way down. 

WHAT-I-ATE-WEDNESDAY-NEW-BUTTON-PEAS-AND-CRAYONS

With the return of glorious summer weather (!!!), I have already noticed my food cravings shift. It was only a few weeks ago I was doting on everything comfort food and “brown,” whereas this past week my cravings for bowls of veggies and whole foods and home-cooked-zero-processing-natural-as-can-be everything have risen to the front. Wonderful. Though with this has also come guilt and negative thoughts about my past dietary choices. 

This is something I struggle with in all parts of life.  Any bit of success or revelation or positive change is quickly accompanied by guilt for not having done or learned this “better thing” earlier. Irrational and mean, is what that is. 

To be specific, I’ve started to feel guilty about the amount of sugar I’ve been consuming over the past few months. I was probably triggered this past weekend when I heard a nutritionist talk about “processed sugars are inflammatory” and “don’t drink chocolate milk”….ya de ya da. And yet that evening I still went back for a second half of a chocolate bar after having already finished my evening plate of sugar snacks. That’s when its been happening.  My evening snacks have been very sugar laden.  And not even the natural kind…. the processed-as-can-be kind.  And I’ve been spontaneously going back for more after I’ve already had a solid amount. I don’t want to begin looking at grams of sugar, so I have no idea how much I’ve actually been eating. But it makes me feel like I’ve been eating a lot of it. And this makes me feel unhealthy (inflammatory what?!) and out of control. 

I’ve been continuously making up for a lack of calories in a day with sugar at night (and honestly –  I’ve been saving calories in the day in order to have this extra sugar at night). Or I’ve been fueling myself with large bakery muffins and cinnamon buns instead of sandwiches or other real foods. Calories are all the same. But the choices have been poor. 

Now. Let’s get the elephant out of the room here. I know I am in a special case scenario and need to be eating anything I crave – and as much as I want of it – to heal my fears/guilts/judgements about food. And I know even with these extra handfuls of sugar every night I am still not taking in as much as weight gain and recovery require. But I will be speaking more about this – my more recent struggles with food and guilt and recovery talk – in posts coming up.  I’ve actually not been talking about anything recovery related very consciously.  So for now, can we just forget this little part of the equation??

Whether or not someone struggles with an eating disorder, its still important to feel good about what you put into your body. The feeling of knowing I’ve filled myself with unprocessed, homemade and nutrient dense ingredients is wonderful and empowering. I think during my previous recovery attempts, I’ve tended to go a little hay wire on sugar. Definitely in the hospital it felt like everything was sugar. When your body needs it, “a calorie is a calorie”... I know. But I don’t want to feel like shit because I’m fueling myself mainly with unnatural ingredients and processed sugar.  Its a hard balance in recovery.  But I’m still a human who wants my cells to be as fruitful and bountiful as anyone else’s. I question whether I’ll still be able to encourage and share my love of whole foods and minimal sugar and “clean eating” (oh gosh) while working for recovery and weight gain. This makes me sad and confused. But I don’t want to think about that right now. So let’s just leave that for another time, ok?

I’m sorry for this mind dump. This has all just spewed out of my day of eats yesterday, which got me looking back at my past choices. It was a reminder of how damn good I feel when I know I’m eating wonderful whole foods that are natural and homemade and unprocessed. And that I feel like I’ve strayed away from this more than I’d like. So lets just get onto some WIAW action that celebrates these very things. 

Breakfast

breakfast bake sugar guilt

Quinoa Chocolate Pear Breakfast Bake + peanut butter + banana

Aka: my new breakfast addiction. Gluten Free – Dairy and egg free – Sugar Free – Oil Free.  Full of plant based complete protein, fibre and essential fatty acids.  And…. it’s chocolate cake for breakfast. 

breakfast bake sugar guilt

SUCH PERFECT CAKE TEXTURE and all-natural as can be. 

Can’t wait to share this recipe with you…. TOMORROW! So come back then. 

Lunch:

lunch salad apple sugar guilt

Massaged Kale + roasted beets + roasted sweet potato + peas + chickpeas + sauerkraut and a honey crisp apple

Kale massaged in extra virgin olive oil + 2 tsp apple cider vinegar + 1/2 tsp lemon juice + 1/2 tsp dijon mustard + salt

Normally I’d add avocado to this favorite combination of mine, but when I went to the fridge I sadly found my last half was far beyond the edible state. Womp :(. 

Dinner:

mac and cheese dinner sugar guilt

Homemade baked macaroni & cheese + steamed brocolli

Macaroni & Cheese made with a mix of lentil pasta, brown rice pasta and steamed cauliflower (#hiddenveggies). Sauce made of 2 swiss cheese triangles, 3/4 cups grated cheddar, 2 Tbsp greek yogurt, 1/4 cup almond milk, 1 tsp dijon, salt/pepper/paprika. 

Have you ever tried adding steamed cauliflower to your ma&cheese? You’d never know its there!

 kombucha sugar guilt

And a glass of my pear ginger Kombucha for all its probiotics and to help digest all those wonderful nutrients

Evening Snack:

pretzel chocolate snack sugar guilt

80% dark chocolate + pretzels + Tulsi Tea

For all those magnesium and relaxation boosting side effects 

So.

You could look at this post as coming from someone with an eating disorder who is once again “scared of sugar.”  I don’t mind.  Though you could also look at it as coming from an adult who struggles with an eating disorder and yet knows and loves the notion of healthy eating and is just working to find the balance between the two

I will always highly support treats and eating out of a box and – yes – even tonnes of sugar when your body or season requires it. Hell, I need to. And there will be plenty of posts after this one getting back to focusing on those choices. I need to continue working on my own guilt when I feel like I’ve gone “over board” with less than perfect health choices. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take a step back and want to nourish my body in better ways and remind myself how good I feel when I feel good about what I’m putting in my body.

Sugar Guilt and feeling good about what you put in your body. WIAW! Click To Tweet

Tell me,

Do you ever feel sugar guilt? 

Is it hypocritical for someone with an eating disorder to advocate “clean eating?” 

What do you feel really GOOD eating? 

 

 

 

 

39 COMMENTS

  1. chasetheredgrape | 20th Apr 16

    Oh Cora I know exactly where you are coming from and it’s such a tough one – on one hand you think ‘hell yeah look at all my healthy tasty eats’ and on the other hand you go ‘oh gosh is this my ED choosing my food again?’ And panic comes in. For me, this often comes when I go out to eat and have to decide what I really want rather than what my head tells me I should have – and then you have to try and decipher is this my ED head or recovered head telling me what to go for – I don’t even know if that makes sense! Ha!
    But to be honest, I think the fact that you are even having this conversation with yourself, and involving us in the mix, shows just how much you have come on and that things are moving in the right direction. Even if you don’t have the exact solution right now, it’s such a positive step. And that makes me smile so much 😀

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Its so hard. You have to deal with not only your own inner concerns/questions but also worry about what others – who may know your past – may think. And then when you know you need to gain weight its like I feel guilty every time I have a salad. I don’t know. But yes you make complete sense and can see right into my thoughts – as always. Thank you so much for being such a support.

  2. Kate | 20th Apr 16

    First, the mac n’ cheese sounds wonderful!!
    Thank you for sharing where you are at right now. I don’t think you are being hypocritical at all! You aren’t saying clean eating is the only way.
    I understand the balance between wanting to nourish the body while also working towards weight gain. When I was in treatment (many) years ago, we ate a lot of poptarts and snack cookies. I remember asking the RD why we ate such processed food when we our bodies were recovering from malnutrition. She told me that our bodies are getting plenty of the good stuff, but the snack foods were just extra because we got enough nutrients through other things. I think the same is here for you, you are eating plenty of antioxidants/vitamins/minerals, so you will balance out those treats. You have a beautiful diet of fruits and veggies. If the treats help you work towards your goal to gain weight, I say enjoy them. Perhaps adding more fat to your meals could help too.
    I hope you continue to work through those thoughts. I’m here if you need to talk! <3
    Kate recently posted…Rambling & meals (WIAW)My Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Kate, I really needed to hear/be reminded of this. Of course its something I deep down know, but I still need to hear it from elsewhere to help convince myself (and from someone trained in nutrition obviously helps for the better). I’m trying to tell myself that I’m getting all the healthy nutrients my body needs and so I’m not doing “damage” by then having a lot of sugar etc. on top of that. But its like there’s a part of my brain that believes the bad stuff is going to take AWAY from the good and make it all disappear. I’ll be working with a nutritionist this summer so I hope, with her, I can work at adding calories in ways that are not just with sweets (sometimes I find these little additions even harder than just having a donut – so weird) Extra fats like you say is definitely needed.
      You are going to be a wonderful nutrionist. Can’t thank you enough.

  3. Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy | 20th Apr 16

    I don’t think trying to eat whole and unprocessed foods contradicts disordered eating! Like Kate said, if your body is already getting lots of good things, perhaps it needs some extra calories and fats to reach optimal levels for functioning, and sometimes sweetened things are easy additions. I definitely agree with you about feeling better when I’m eating whole foods, which happens the majority of the time. I also prefer to make my own treats, where I can control what goes in and how much, so to me at least, it seems much more wholesome (and way less processed) than buying something.
    Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy recently posted…Please Don’t Give Yourself Cheat DaysMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      So like – if one is taking in lots of good nutrients through regular diet and lots of fruits and veggies (and especially if one is underweight) – sugar and processed “junk” won’t do you damage or take away all the good you are putting in your body… right?! I know that’s a silly question and I know in my predicament I just need calories, but I do need reconfirmation that taking in some “less healthy” doesn’t take away from the “healthy.”
      Thanks Sarah. It really helps hearing this support from an RD and friend. Knowing you won’t judge my crazy/irrational questions or concerns means the world.

  4. Heather @ Polyglot Jot | 20th Apr 16

    Thanks so much for sharing! I have struggled with guilt and disorders growing up, and i understand where you’re coming from! I don’t think you’re being hypocritical at all! I still work toward finding balance on a daily basis…but I definitely struggle with feelings of guilt.
    Cant wait for the recipe tomorrow! Looks so delicious!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…Link Love: Healthy LivingMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Thank you Heather. Though I would never want to bestow guilt on you – it does help to know others feel the same way. I love your approach to food so you are on my list for rational and healthy motivation!

  5. GiGi Eats | 20th Apr 16

    I love my mindset when it comes to food. I don’t put anything unhealthy into my body, my brain has been trained to not even look at such things… Probably because I know all the harm they will cause me (I have a lot of food allergies, etc so that helps too)… Salmon, here I come! 🙂
    GiGi Eats recently posted…We’re “Pretty Happy” About These Recipe!My Profile

  6. Emily Swanson | 20th Apr 16

    Do you ever feel sugar guilt?
    I do, and I think sometimes, it is, because the excess amount of sugar actually doesn’t make me feel that good. It’s amazing how God made us to eat everything in moderation. A sweet here and there tastes really good, but I COMPLETELY understand what you mean here.

    Is it hypocritical for someone with an eating disorder to advocate “clean eating?”
    No, it’s not, because you want to take care of your body. You don’t sound restrictive. You sound, more like you want to eat things in moderation and enjoy things in moderation which is 100% wonderful! 🙂
    :)) <3 you Cora. Please continue to share each step.
    Emily Swanson recently posted…WIAW: Why I Can’t Do Diets Any MoreMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Thank you Em. It is amazing how our bodies will tell us when we’ve had too much of something… or when we want something. And to keep reminding ourselves that if it is the latter and the body wants something, to have it!
      You are right – it is all about moderation and balance.

  7. snackiebird | 20th Apr 16

    I know, recovery is hella hard. As for me, I gained wheight after my restriction on all sugar treats. Buns, bread, cookies… You name it. It was fast way, but I didn`t feel good. And I am glad to see that you are really mindful about your eating! I think your food seems pretty well and clean enough. Always “Уes” to sugar snack in the night.

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Exactly. It will get the job done – which is probably all that is important – but you won’t feel good. So that’s what I don’t want to happen. And yes my sugary snack at night won’t stop – thank you Marina!

  8. Dani @ Dani California Cooks | 20th Apr 16

    I really appreciate you sharing your story as you go on this journey. i definitely see so many blogs out there that are like “im recovered and i’m GREAT and this is how you do it” so I really think it’s wonderful that you’re sharing it as you go. keep listening to your body and not laying judgement on what you want or desire. we’re so hard on ourselves!
    Dani @ Dani California Cooks recently posted…WIAW – Springtime in the Pacific NorthwestMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Haha well that is definitely not what I’m saying here. I’m not great and I still don’t know how to do it. But sharing my struggles as I go really helps to figure it all out – so thank you!! I need this kind of pep talk.

  9. Aubrey @ Clusterforked | 20th Apr 16

    Cora, I totally completely understand the way you are feeling about sugar right now. I know you know this, you wrote it in the post, but sometimes it’s useful to have affirmations from others. Recovery or no recovery no one food should be better than any other, if your body is craving something (whatever that thing is) you probably need it. Even the impulsive ‘going back for more’ scenario is 100% normal and okay. It is really great though that you have acknowledged these thoughts and feeling, hopefully that will allow you to overcome them in favour of a balanced mindset that works for you. Sending positive vibes!
    Aubrey @ Clusterforked recently posted…Winding down? – WIAWMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Thank you. Yes. I need this pep talk and as many affirmations from others as I can get (wish it wasn’t the case – I know these things deep down myself. But hearing them from others is still needed to strengthen the beliefs and give myself “permission.”). Hopefully just getting this little mini tantrum out will let me get back to realizing my sugar is totally okay.

  10. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table | 20th Apr 16

    That breakfast bake looks amazing!!! Nothing wring with a little cake for breakfast!

    P.S. You’ve been saved from WIAW purgatory. 🙂
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…My Version of Camping + WIAWMy Profile

  11. Susie @ Suzlyfe | 20th Apr 16

    I am not worried about you in the least. Here is the thing: you are coming at it not from a restrictive, self-destructive mindset but rather from a mindset of wanted to make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Sort of like how I had to reintroduce food tracking during marathon season to make sure that I got ENOUGH. As long as you are the driver, and not the passenger, to your feelings, I think you are ok. And you are being open (and mindfully concerned). You know yourself well enough now to know if you should be sounding the alarms!
    Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Runner Hydration and Fueling Mistakes to Avoid (Coaches Corner)My Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Mm. This helped a lot. You are right. Ultimately I want to be healthy – and that comes from all sides of things. Thanks Suz <3

  12. katalysthealth | 20th Apr 16

    This is a really brave post to put out there, because I can totally see where some might ridicule you for these choices. I, however, am 100% on your side and can totally see where you are coming from here. I too struggle with my sugar intake at night and while I will NEVER go back to calorie counting, it can mess with my head! I 100% think you are coming at this the right way though. You’ve got an open line to yourself and your true feelings on the matter, have opened yourself up to us on this topic, and have a set plan. That doesn’t sound restrictive or damaging at all!
    katalysthealth recently posted…WIAW 4.20.16My Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Ahh thank you Kat. This really means a lot to hear. I think it is fair that any one of us would have sugar (or other) guilt. I guess its just important what we do with that guilt and always stay within a healthy and compassionate mindset and even if we make a new “plan,” to have it be true to our needs. You rock.

  13. Heather@hungryforbalance | 20th Apr 16

    You are totally allowed to fuel your body with food that makes you feel good, eating disorder or not!!
    You are NOT a hypocrite!
    Lots of veggies, lean proteins, and dark chocolate make me feel good.

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Thank you Heather <3

  14. Victoria Myers | 21st Apr 16

    Loved your honesty, what a great read!
    Victoria Myers recently posted…What I Ate WednesdayMy Profile

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Thank you so much for coming by and reading!

  15. Brittany | 21st Apr 16

    UGH I can totally relate. I felt VERY restricted for about 6 months this past summer, which spiraled into some unhealthy eating habits, which THEN spiraled into “I need to just eat what I want so that I don’t go down a dark path.” This has led me to now consuming things that are NOT healthy and I feel the need to be strict again. I’m trying to look at it from a health standpoint though, and processed sugar is NOT good for me even when I crave it. I don’t have to give into every single craving…it’s all about the balance which I am slowly trying to find again.

    • Cora | 22nd Apr 16

      Oh my gosh what a cycle. That is so hard… like a feeling of never being able to achieve a balance. Or just never being happy with how we are currently “doing it” and always wanting to be “better.” I know it all takes a lot of time and trial and error to figure out…but I think with all that time, we will eventually get a quicker response to the foods that actually feel good and what doesn’t. I’m telling that “balance” to get its ass over to you and let you be!!

  16. Stephanie Leduc | 21st Apr 16

    I can definitely see how this can be a struggle, it must be so hard to decipher what is the ED thoughts and which are just regular thoughts. I have thoughts like these all the time, and I don’t think it’s your ED talking for your night time snacks. Perhaps for now you will want to eat healthier and that’s okay, just as long as you recognize that you want sweets one night and you don’t stop yourself from that either!

    • Cora | 23rd Apr 16

      Not just trying to discern between the thoughts, but when you truly love healthy food but most of it doesn’t have enough calories for what you need! That’s the frustrating thing.
      That’s exactly it.. and precisely what I need to be on watch for. Thanks Steph. It helps knowing we all have these similar thoughts and cycles with what we want to eat more of.

  17. Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl | 21st Apr 16

    It is definitely a balance between losing that restrictive mindset and still being able to care about what you’re putting into your body. This Sunday when I was really hungry, I ate a lot of good for you foods, and a lot that isn’t so good for you, and afterwards had to just take a mental step back and tell myself that it was what I needed that day, but in general it’s also okay to choose the apple over the Mars bar even if other people are going to ask you whether it’s a sign of your ED.

    • Cora | 23rd Apr 16

      I think as long as we honestly evaluate for ourselves and listen to what we really need in the moment – it shouldn’t matter what others thick. I absolutely loved your “rungry” post this week. Such an awesome example of listening to your body. You needed more that day – so you did what your body wanted! Thank you for sharing it.

  18. Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy | 22nd Apr 16

    Okay, I don’t know how to respond to your comment that you responded to mine (are you following me?) so I figured I’d just post a new one. Sugar and processed junk will NOT take away all the good you are putting in your body – no way no how! You are in a state where your body needs calories and it ultimately doesn’t matter where. Of course, we want you to get better quality calories so you’ll feel better physically, emotionally and mentally and maintain your energy consistently, BUT at the same time, healthy, whole foods generally have less calories, so your body wants and needs to get more calories from elsewhere. Enter sweets. Right now, it may just be what your body (and mind) needs. You need not worry about this too much – once your body gets to a stable weight that it thinks is sufficient, you may need those other sources of calories less, but for now – you go for it girl.
    Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy recently posted…Life lessons learned from rock climbingMy Profile

    • Cora | 23rd Apr 16

      Weird, I don’t know why you can’t reply – I’m definitely following you – so maybe its something on my end :s.
      Anyway. This is what I needed and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to help me. I need to repeat this all to myself consistently. The healthier choices are lower calorie in general – so I need to get my numbers up and the most efficient way to do so is with the sweets.
      Your clients are going to be so very lucky to work with you. You’re damn good.

  19. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 24th Apr 16

    When it comes to dealing with an ED or past ED, I have no advice. I do know though when it comes to healthy (in my opinion) eating, I need a mix of whole, good for you, foods and processed sweets. One is good for the body and one is good for the soul. I try to eat more of the former and if I notice the balance is slipping (i.e. I’m eating lots of sugary stuff and less good for you foods), instead of dumping the sweets, I simply try to ingest more of the good stuff. It works for me.

    • Cora | 24th Apr 16

      I really, really, really like this tip Meg. I’ve never thought of it this way before. This is really going to help me moving forward.

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  21. kyrabocha | 27th Apr 16

    Hey Cora,
    I think you’re being thoughtful about your food choices and how they make you feel and that’s great! I think it’s totally normal as a person to go through ebbs and flows in sometimes craving different things. I know that there are some days when I drool over instagram photos of people’s smoothies and buddha bowls, and there are other days when I’d rather have a few servings of captain crunch or some candy. Even if it’s really psychological to be in the mood for lighter fare (we attribute eating cleaner foods to being the more ‘correct’ choice, etc.) perhaps your body is looking for some other nutrient, too, so there’s nothing wrong with indulging that desire. And for the times you do crave sugar, and honor that craving, it might play with your conscience but at the most microscopic level, all food is just different arrangements of chemicals. So your body might have needed some quick energy at that time! I don’t know if this is helpful or if it made sense, but it really makes me sad to see the effect that the schemas we’ve created around food (good or bad) can cause us to distrust what our bodies say we really need!
    kyrabocha recently posted…I’m back!My Profile

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