Life Lessons: Your Principles

November 24, 2008

It has been a month since our last poll, and the results are in!

The question: How does justifying your food choices affect you? The results:

  • I often feel the need to justify what I’m eating and it makes me feel bad
  • Sometimes I’ll explain why I’m eating a certain way, but it doesn’t bother me much
  • I’m guilt-free! I don’t feel the need to explain myself to anyone else
  • I’ve never felt judged for my food choices so this doesn’t apply to me
  • There were 45 voters in total. And almost half of us feel bad- because of how others react (or how we think others react) to what we are eating. While this doesn’t exactly surprise me, it certainly does make me sad. Somewhere along the way, the notion of eating food as fuel and enjoying what we eat has turned into a monstrous guilt-trap of self-loathing. Perhaps not always quite that extreme, but it is absolutely a major problem that needs to be dealt with.
  • This leads me to another question: what do you do to deal with this problem? How do you separate your emotions from food and just enjoy it?
  • I think a big part about this issue is in deciding what our principles are. If I have to ask myself if I really want to be eating whatever I’m eating, or if I’m just having it because everyone else is, or because it’s a “safe” food that I won’t feel judged for having, or because I’m bored/sad/insert other emotion here, then that’s a good indication that I should just set it down and not have it. Similarly, if I am feeling judged for eating a certain way, I’m going to be asking myself why I feel that way. Is it that my choices are completely different than the other peoples’ around me? Are they commenting on it or teasing me? Is it all simply in my head and I’m the only one uncomfortable about it?
  • I think it’s important to think about why you eat what you eat- like anything else in life. Why are you doing what you are doing? Is it because you really believe in what you are doing, or is it because that is how you have been taught to act?
  • It is assumed that we all “ought” to attend school, get a career, and get married. And that’s well and good, if that is what you want from life. But doing this because everyone is telling you that you should, or because you feel as though you would be judged for acting differently, is probably not going to make you happy in life. And aren’t we all about living life to the fullest and enjoying ourselves? (The correct answer would be “yes”).
  • Let me know what you think! Have you explored your options and are you happy with where you are at? Do you know what your principles in life are and are you following them?


  1. You are so on with this post. Emotions and eating go hand and hand like snow and cold. We have taken to judge ourselves and others on what it is we eat and immediately feel bad as soon as the dishes are cleared. Do we think out parents or grandparents worried about what they ate and if they were being judged on it? Guilt should not be a food type.

  2. Well, I don’t have any answers to this as this is something I really struggle with. I’ve honestly never had a normal relatinoship with food. Plus, I’m always “shoulding” on myself. But I like your take on it!

  3. I don’t think I answered the survey, because I never justify my food choices, bad or good. But I DO still feel very judged by people, I just don’t want to attract more attention to what I’m eating by prattling on about it.

    For me, if I eat too little, skip meals or don’t eat enough, I KNOW that my friends/family will be concerned, so I often feel pressure to eat as they do for that reason.

    Generally in life, I tend to follow my own path. I always have done, and I’m grateful for sticking to my principles, because I know I wouldn’t be doing such an interesting job if I had done what was expected of me. I always always take on board other people’s advice, but I tend to follow my gut!

    TA x

  4. Sometimes I long for my childhood, when I had a “normal” relationship with food!! Nowadays? Not so much.

    Good post, Sagan – food for thought!

  5. Err, considering I just wrote a whole long rambling post criticizing other people’s food choices, this is a good reminder of the impact that can have on others! Bad crab.

    I think a certain amount of internal dialog about food choices– justifying them or swearing to be “better next time” or even feeling smug for the road not taken–is fine, and can even be productive. But I think that’s true only when it’s based on our OWN judgment, not what other people might think of those choices. And I also think while a little self-reflection is fine, too much is a road to Screwed-Up Self Esteem. Never good.

    Great post and great discussion!

  6. Great post Sagan.

    In reference to the emotional aspect of things, I think that our environment definitely shapes our choices. And as you said, we are expected to grow up, get married, have kids, and continue on that cycle that society portrays as what is expected and basically what life should be. In fact, lots of times, we raise a brow at those that are not married, or for that matter, those that think differently or live differently that what is expected.

    Now, back to your post about food and emotions. I struggle to this day to separate the two. I try to assess the reasons for certain nibbles and bites, and to be honest, I have grown a little in tackling this love-hate relationship with food, but not by much. I used to continually resort to food as a coping mechanism, but now I am trying to find other ways to find what I am looking for, whether it be just simply talking to a friend. But sometimes, I guess my emotions are just overpowering that I can’t really stop myself from my tracks and stop to assess myself and my own wellbeing. So, overall, it’s still a struggle for me, but I hope that one day, my relationship with food will be better – it might be a long road, but I know it can happen.

  7. Yes often an emotion will trigger a food craving or for me boredom…I always feel like I need to be doing something. The key is to keep buy and drink lots of water. My take anyway. Nice post!

  8. Tom- it definitely should not! It’s insane how its all just come up in the past couple decades.

    Charlotte- I think that recognizing that there’s not a normal relationship is really getting you somewhere.

    TA- am glad to hear that! The pressure is no fun- but following your gut is the way to go.

    Bag Lady- ignorance is bliss, isn’t it?

    Crabby- therein lies the contradiction! As a society clearly we DON’T make good food choices, and need to do something about it. But at the same time, it’s not “right” for us to judge others. Sticky sticky slope. And I agree with your thoughts about moderation in our own judgments and self reflection!

    Sharon- I was speaking with a girl the other day and she asked me (of course) if I had a boyfriend. When I said no, she said, “oh, well, that’s okay! It’s good to be single!”- after she had just told me all about her long-term relationship. For some reason its as though we need some kind of “reassurance” that what we’re doing is still acceptable (even if they clearly don’t think it is). Kind of funny. I’m really glad that even though you’re still struggling with food, there’s progress being made- EVERY step counts.

    Mark- your water is my tea:)

  9. This is a very good poll! I guess I’m a little surprised (not sure why) how high the response was about feeling bad about eating certain things. Ugh, food is such a complex issue. While I may not feel “guilty” about certain foods I’m aware of the orthorexia issue that I wrote about here
    and I try to fill my life with other nourishing aspects beyond food – healthy people, activities, etc.

  10. Feeling guilty about what you eat solves nothing. You have to change your mindset. I know, easier said than done.
    But the occasional treat, in moderation, is ok. Better than binging, but if you do binge, it’s not the end. Eating well is a lifelong goal.

  11. I’m working on not letting other people influence my eating decisions…so far I’m hanging in there. I think it’s all about having confidence in yourself to not care what others think.

  12. i used to be the guilt inducer – whenever i’d eat a dessert or overindulge, i’d feel guilty and feel the need to either keep eating beyond the point of fullness OR run to the gym in an effort to burn it off…

    i finally feel like i am comfortable enough in my skin to eat whatever i want (within moderation of course) without obsessing about gaining weight or feeling guilty… i feel that ultimately i got to this point by reading several books, staying positive (being optimistic and looking at my strengths not my perceived weaknesses), and also the blog community, to be honest…

    great post!

  13. I just wear a shirt with “Ask me why I eat like this” on the front, and “Fear this” on the back 🙂

  14. love the thoughts provoked in your post here, Sagan~

    for me it is a WEIRD opposite.
    people wanna justify to me their choices (always. even in grocery) when I AM 100% judgment free, dont care and only eat the way I do because I love it and it energizes me!

  15. I feel bad about how i feel about food sometimes. but you cant help your gut reaction, so even though its my initial reaction, I just tell myself to shut up.

    Kelly Turner

  16. Jolene- “food is such a complex issue”: is that ever true!!

    James- Agreed that its a mindset that requires change. It might be tough, but it is really necessary.

    Strongandhealthy- confidence is a very big part of it.

    Loveofoats- where would we be without the support of the blogging community?!

    Dr. J- I want that shirt!!

    MizFit- and if we could ALL have your attitude, just think how much happier everyone would be!

    Kelly- gotta love the self talk:)

  17. Yes, I DEFINITELY follow my principles in life – I nourish my body in order to consume enough fuel and to combat my Crohn’s Disease.

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