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How to Eat Chocolate Guilt Free

Do you ever find yourself focussing on your food guilt instead of enjoying time spent with friends or family?

Each year as Easter rolls around, we might hear (or say) the following sentiments:

“I’ll be good this year and avoid (insert delicious Easter snack)…” or “I was so bad for eating/drinking (insert tasty food/drink)…”

You may not notice, but our culture makes a lot of judgements about food and our eating behaviours! We might find ourselves feeling proud that we restricted certain foods we labelled as ‘bad’, or find ourselves feeling guilty when we did eat those same foods.

Labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is not a new concept, however this messaging is very strong (especially at certain times of the year, like Easter), and it might be undermining your attempts to improve your health.

There’s never been a better time to rethink how you think about food and how to make food choices (including choosing to eat chocolate!) without guilt.

Why do we feel guilty about eating certain foods?

Think about this: food has no moral value. It is not good or bad, it is simply food.

We’re not born thinking that food is good or bad, or feeling guilty or ashamed about our food choices, so where do these feelings come from?

From a young age, most of us hear family or friends saying these things. It’s almost impossible to avoid the advice in the media and from diet culture that we should be disciplined and have strict food rules to be healthy and happy. We also tend to blame certain foods for holding us back from our goals, then restrict them in an attempt to achieve our goals.

Restriction of chocolate is one of the common examples of this. We may think that all our health problems or difficulty losing weight are due to indulging in foods like chocolate, when it’s more likely to be our overall food habits and choices contributing to these issues, rather than one food eaten at one time.

So how helpful is this guilt for overall health and food enjoyment?

What we often find is that when we restrict certain foods, this leads to increased cravings of those foods and viewing our actions as a ‘failure’ when we give in and eat them – leading to feelings of guilt or regret, or like we have little control over our behaviours.

If you resonate with the above, consider this: an ‘all or nothing’ approach creates impossible expectations and is the quickest way to fail. Why? Because with this mindset, if you can’t eat ‘perfectly’, then you may as well throw in the towel and not worry about eating nourishing foods at all.

What should we do instead?

Ditch the goal of perfection. Rather, think about something small that you can do each day. Aim to build on positive habits towards meeting your goals, instead of trying to do it all.

What does a healthy diet – this means a general way of eating, not a restrictive ‘diet’ – look like? What positive habits should we build?

A healthy diet is based on whole foods – these foods are nutritious and provide the tools our bodies need to feel full and satisfied.

It looks like this:

  • include an abundance of vegetables each day (aim to do this at lunch, dinner and snacks)
  • embrace a variety of fruits
  • aim for mostly wholegrain and higher fibre, carbohydrate rich foods
  • incorporate meat, poultry and legumes (aim for leaner varieties)
  • enjoy healthy fats
  • drink plenty of water

Did your jaw drop when reading the above? Probably not – this information isn’t new, but what we’re encouraging here is to focus on the foods to include, rather than on the foods to limit, as a way to improve your relationship with food.

How do we have our chocolate and eat it too?

We know that chocolate can fit into a healthy diet, and that restriction can make us crave it more. When enjoying chocolate, we would encourage you to engage all of your senses. This practice can help you to get the maximum enjoyment out of your food by being more present and mindful of the experience.

If you are looking to make a healthier choice when it comes to chocolate, it might be helpful to add a whole food to your snack – some examples could be some yoghurt or tasty fruits like berries, orange or mandarins.

As you start to focus on the abundance of foods to include in your diet, you’ll probably notice that you are feeling more nourished, more in tune with your body’s hunger and fullness signals and more free from food guilt – so that you can enjoy special times spent with those you love and eating your favourite foods!


If you’re looking for more help with navigating eating behaviours and implementing positive strategies, or would like some individualised advice on healthy eating, book in with one of the experienced dietitians at The Healthy Eating Clinic or call us on 02 6174 4663.

At The Healthy Eating Clinic, we want to equip you with habit-based nutrition advice so that you can eat well for the rest of your life! Make an appointment today.