3 Ways Food Guilt Makes You LESS Healthy During the Holidays (And At Any Other Time of Year)

by | Dec 3, 2021 | 6 comments


We are excited to share this special guest post from Rebecca the Dietitian! We recognize how much the way you fuel your body influences your exercise results, and are excited to be able to bring you Rebecca’s sound eating advice to help you optimize your health, enjoy eating and get the most out of your workouts. We hope you will check out her post below and look forward to learning more from her. If you are in need of more guidance when it comes to nutrition, her comprehensive course, “Nourished & Fit” teaches you everything you need to know in order to lose weight, increase your energy, and balance your hormones (while enjoying delicious food of course)! Along with the course you will be invited to monthly group calls and a private Facebook community of amazing, supportive women. Please check out this link here to learn more (be sure to use the code ‘JSTV’ for a 30% discount).


Do you ever find yourself feeling guilty about your food choices? Do you have thoughts like, “I am so full I’m sure I have gained weight” or “I am going to have to exercise like crazy to burn this off” or “I might as well keep eating all of this food and start dieting again on Monday”?

If any of these (or similar) thoughts sound familiar then keep reading!

You may think that these guilty feelings and self-deprecating thoughts help keep you on track. After all, isn’t demeaning yourself the reason you get back to exercising or eating right after you’ve gone off the rails? It may seem like that, but let’s consider three reasons that this type of guilt isn’t actually doing you any favors (and how we can turn this thinking around).


#1: Food guilt makes you more likely to overeat or binge eat

Feeling guilty about food can make you more likely to overeat or binge eat, while planning indulgences allows you to truly enjoy what you are eating and then get right back on track. The goal for the ladies I work with is to have a regular day-to-day routine of healthy, balanced eating and exercising that they truly enjoy. We also encourage regular guilt-free indulgences. We don’t call these choices “cheats” because they aren’t. We are mindfully choosing to incorporate some less-healthy foods that are not in our normal routine simply because we want to. Because it’s fun and the food is delicious. And guess what happens when we allow for mindful indulgences with no guilt at all? We actually truly enjoy every bit of whatever we’re eating and then we get back to our normal routine. We don’t need to give up on our entire healthy lifestyle. We don’t need to eat everything in sight before we begin again. Because we can simply plan another indulgence whenever we want. When it becomes part of the plan it’s not such a big deal and we don’t feel like it’s our last chance to enjoy food. I see it over and over again that my clients don’t eat as much when they indulge and they enjoy it so much more without the guilt.



#2: Food guilt makes you more likely to overcompensate with an extreme plan of under-eating or over-exercising that will eventually backfire

If you allow those guilty thoughts to creep in when you overeat then you might feel like you have to punish yourself to get back on track. This often leads to a rigid plan of under-eating and/or over-exercising that isn’t healthy or sustainable long-term. After some amount of time your body will reject this type of strict plan. Usually your brain will take over and you will end up overeating because you’re starving or you will end up at a weight loss plateau because your body will slow your metabolism in an attempt to keep you alive. This “all or nothing” behavior can set you up for a terrible cycle of starving/over-exercising and then giving up and feeling like a failure. It’s not healthy for your body (over time this has been shown to permanently lower your natural metabolism) and the over-exercising can cause injuries. When you incorporate guilt-free indulgences into your regular routine there’s no need for extreme overcompensation. A balanced plan allows you to stay consistently healthy and happy. If you do go off track there’s no need to feel bad about it. Just get back to taking great care of yourself with your normal healthy balanced routine as soon as you are able. Do it because you love yourself, not as a punishment.


#3: Food guilt can cause stress and low self-esteem

Consistent negative self-talk and creating unrealistic goals that you can’t succeed at are really tough on your self esteem. Isn’t it wild that we say things to ourselves that we would never say to a friend? The first step in conquering this self-beratement is to notice it. You may have been doing it for so long that you don’t even realize you’re doing it. Once you start catching yourself, simply observe the thoughts and consider if they are kind or productive. How might you reframe these thoughts if you were talking to a loved one?

Another tip to help you conquer negative thoughts is to set realistic goals. Is it realistic to not have one unhealthy food item during the holidays? Is it realistic to work out 7 days per week when you’re super busy? Consider allowing for the wild schedule and the amazing food that may occur. Maybe you can plan for completely guilt-free food indulgences 2-3 times each week this month and shoot for healthy eating otherwise? Or you could set a goal for healthy eating 75% of the week. Allow for some lighter/shorter workouts and some days off to accommodate for the extra holiday activities on your calendar. If you set yourself up with reasonable, attainable goals then you’re more likely to succeed which will boost your confidence and help you stay on track long term.

A little kindness goes a long way, especially when it comes to honoring our body and our health. Practicing self compassion and care can help you enjoy the spirit and joy of the holiday season even more.


We hope that you have the most amazing holiday season and that you allow for lots of healthy treats as well as guilt-free indulgences. Move your body because you’re amazing and you’re worth it. Have lots of fun and focus on self-care whenever possible.

Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy holiday season!


Do you have a question or a topic you’d like Rebecca to write about? What have you found helpful in overcoming food guilt? We love hearing from you, so please share with us in the comments below!





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  1. Janine Davey

    I have suffered with a low self esteem and body loathing most of my life through allowing social pressure and family criticism to affect me. My parents were always focused on being thin. I was a chubby child and when I hit my teens, I developed an obsession with exercise and lack of healthy nutrition. My first exercise equipment that my parents bought me was an energy (Precious MacKenzie, NZ weight lifter) was promoting. I soon became obsessed with over exercising & got strong and fit. I had a low self esteem, having not dealt with my self loathing, I had become slim & needed the external validation from family to feel ok, all the wrong unhealthy reasons, being thin & looking good in clothes was all that mattered to me.😔
    Eating disordered, uhealthy relationships and overindulging in alcohol became lifestyle for me for many years.
    Now at 52 years old I am a single parent with an adult son & teenage daughter. I am a Community Caregiver and have shared care of my daughter.
    I started following your You Tube channel 5 years ago, you helped me to get fit & strong. I learnt yoga, strength training and cardio workouts. I started to take care of myself and eat healthy , cook delicious recipes and work out with you regularly. I no longer binge & purge, having a busy lifestyle helping others and hiking in our beautiful WaItakere range & choosing healthy friendships, forgiving and connecting with my parents & siblings ❤ you are my go to Jessica when I workout at home, I am healthy, strong & fit at 52 yrs old because I often turn to you for strength & relaxation exercises. I have introduced you to friends & family & you’ve been a life saver under lockdown. I know you’ve been off the scene for a while, nice to see you back again 😄
    Thanks for allowing me to share here, you are a staple and inspiration in my life. Thanks Jessica 😊 🥰

    • Jessica Smith

      Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful, inspiring story with us Janine! Congrats to you on all of the incredible shifts you have been able to make! Please keep up all of the amazing work you are doing taking care of your body and your health so that you can continue to take such great care of all those around you. Thank you so much for being a valued member of our community and for inspiring us too! We are so happy to have you here 🙂

  2. Rachel

    Thank you for the great tips. I compare myself a lot to others and see myself as a failure because I am not that slim. But started to rephrase. I am probably the only woman at the office who can do 25 push-ups, so maybe I am not the one with the smallest waistline, but I am strong and I take care of my body. That is important, not your dress size! I am very much an all or nothing kinda girl, so for me it works really good to plan in indulgence moments. For me it is the weekends when I have movie nights with my husband. I really enjoy the cookies and chocolates and it helps me to leave them in the cupboard on others days, because I know it soon will be the weekend again. And what also really helps is have good healthy alternatives for those “I need a snack badly” moments. My tip: slice an apple, sprinkle cinnamon, almond flour and walnuts over it, 1,5 minutes in the microvave and you have an instant apple pie snack 🙂 You can also add coconut shredded and/or 70% chocolate.

    • Jessica Smith

      This is so great Rachel! How amazing that you are starting to rephrase the way you are speaking to and seeing yourself! YES to being STRONG! THIS>> “maybe I am not the one with the smallest waistline, but I am strong and I take care of my body.” is beautiful! PS – 25 push ups?! That’s AWESOME! Thanks so much for sharing this, and for sharing your great snack tips too. 🙂

  3. Tracy Proffitt

    This is so true. Thanks for addressing this issue. So many of us were raised with weird food and guilt philosophies. It was the norm. I’m glad we are moving away from this thinking!

    • Jessica Smith

      Thanks so much for reading Tracy! I’m glad we’re able to start moving in a more positive direction too 🙂


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