The Consequences of Feeling Guilty About Eating

There are several consequences of feeling guilty about eating. We'll tell you what they are, why they happen, and how to deal with them.
The Consequences of Feeling Guilty About Eating
Maria Patricia Pinero Corredor

Written and verified by the nutritionist Maria Patricia Pinero Corredor.

Last update: 08 October, 2022

Feelings and food often go hand in hand. This happens almost without us realizing it, but every time we eat, we feel something related to our food. The negative feelings that surround eating can lead to the consequences of feeling guilty about eating.

The feeling of guilt is the feeling of having done something wrong or of harming something or someone. So, guilt for eating refers to a feeling that you’ve done something wrong by eating a certain food or by the amount of food that you ate.

When do we feel guilty for eating?

Just as in everyday life when we may feel guilty about certain issues, we can also feel this way when it comes to food. The most common causes are eating too much or eating a certain dish and then feeling bad because you think you’re going to gain weight.

The reality is that there are consequences of feeling guilty about eating and they even include certain psychological disorders. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Bulimia

Ortiz, in his article Eating disorders, states that bulimia is a disorder in which a person feels abnormally hungry and eats compulsively in the form of binge eating. After this occurs, he/she then feels guilt and discomfort. This leads to vomiting, taking laxatives, or exercising too much to “purge.” By binge eating, we mean very short episodes of rapid consumption of food and in very large quantities.

In addition, the expert indicates that during periods of overeating, people usually feel ashamed of their behavior, so they promise themselves not to repeat it. So this can then transform into a cycle of binge eating followed by guilt and trying to purge the calories consumed. These people tend to feel dissatisfaction with their bodies and often seek to intensify their restrictive regimens.

Bulimia can trigger complications such as the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Severe dental cavities
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Absent menstrual periods
  • Drug abuse and self-harm
  • Heart and digestive problems
Bulimia
Binge eating and bulimia are borderline conditions of binge eating that carry guilt and behaviors that lead a person to do extremely harmful things to lose calories after binging. 

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Anorexia

Anorexia is a psychiatric disorder characterized by a refusal to maintain a minimally normal weight through the restriction of a person’s caloric intake or excessive expenditure of energy when exercising. In these cases, guilt, obsession, rejection, and high competitiveness cause a vicious cycle.

The complications and physical alterations of this disease are various and at different levels:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Amenorrhea
  • Hypertension
  • Malnutrition
  • Hair loss
  • Atrophy of the nails
  • Lack of attention and concentration
  • Alterations in the perception of hunger and satiety

Binge eating disorder

This is a disorder in which a person eats a much larger amount of food than normal. While eating disproportionately, he/she feels out of control. Unlike the other problems, this one isn’t about burning calories.

In this case, the person experiences shame and guilt. Their hunger responds to anxiety, discomfort, and emotional instability. The phenomenon of emotional hunger then arises.

This is the type of hunger that appears in response to emotional needs. It manifests itself suddenly and persistently. The sensation then usually persists despite eating.

This can lead to health problems such as the following:

  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Digestive problems
  • Pain in the joints
  • Menstrual cycle alterations

Like this article? You may also like to read: What Are the Consequences of Not Eating for Several Hours?

How to deal with feeling guilty about eating

This process involves the help of psychology professionals who can help the patient to understand his or her body and help them to understand that no food is bad if eaten in moderation.

Conscious eating

It’s also recommended to apply conscious eating to try to understand why the negative emotions we feel and find the cause of the internal conflict. This is a process of eating while being aware with all our senses of what provokes us to eat and how we perceive it.

digestive disorders from feeling guilty about eating
Eating disorders affect our digestion and can cause vomiting.

Physiological versus emotional hunger

Another measure that can be taken to deal with feeling guilty about eating is to learn to identify physiological hunger versus emotional hunger. The former is our body’s need for nutrients. At that moment, a series of signals are triggered that let us know it is time to eat.

The second is a type of hunger that comes from the mind. It doesn’t occur due to a lack of food, but is instead usually oriented to a craving for a specific food.

Eating only to recharge energy

In general, it’s recommended to eat only to recharge your energy and, in case of feeling guilty, to go to a mental health professional. In this way, a number of serious disorders can be prevented.

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The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.