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Guilt about eating chocolate associated with body dissatisfaction

Michelle May

I’m not particularly surprised by the following findings from a study reported at the American Psychiatric Association meeting.

chocolate - gourmet 2Young women who crave chocolate — and feel particularly guilty about it — were significantly more likely to have other features of eating disorders…and body image dissatisfaction.

The study didn’t draw conclusions about the cause, in other words, which comes first:

  1. Is it that eating chocolate or other favorite “off-limits” foods leads to guilt > penance > more cravings > overeating > weight gain > body dissatisfaction?
  2. Or is it body dissatisfaction leads to dieting > restriction > deprivation > cravings > overeating > guilt?

Either way, this is what I refer to as the Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. The real questions we need to answer if we are ever going to break free from this vicious cycle are:

  • Why is chocolate a “bad” food? (Please don’t say “Well, dark chocolate isn’t bad” – I mean why is any food “bad” when it provides pleasure in moderation?)
  • Isn’t it obvious that making a delicious food “bad” only increases feelings of deprivation and cravings?
  • When you feel guilty about eating something “off-limits,” does that cause you to stop eating it–or do you end up eating more–but just enjoy it less?
  • Why do so many women feel bad about their bodies – and is this body dissatisfaction leading to improved health or obsession?
  • Why is it so hard for so many “experts” to recognize that a negative, restrictive approach to eating just doesn’t work?

What other burning questions and comments do you  have?


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