During a run around the reservoir in Central Park this morning, I talked shop with one of my favorite doctors, Mary Wendt. Mary is the founder of Get Waisted, and deploys an awful lot of science and psychology in her quest to help people achieve a healthy weight.
At one point, she brought up the concept of guilt. We feel guilty about lots of things, she mused, but gluttony no longer seems to be one of them. Might restoring a little healthy guilt help us resist temptation and make better food choices?
That stopped me in my tracks. (Literally. My feet were killing me 😉
At first blush, I don't like guilt. Taken to an extreme, feeling guilt about food translates into using healthy food to punish ourselves for the unhealthy food. As in, “I'm going to eat a salad for dinner because I ordered the eclair at lunch.”
When we associate food with punishment, we're not real motivated to consume it. Which makes shifting our diets even harder. Who wants to reduce the amount of pleasure and increase the amount of displeasure in their life? Totally unsustainable.
There's something powerful in what Dr Mary said about gluttony no longer triggering guilt like it used to. The other six “deadly sins” (greed, lust, sloth, excessive pride, inordinate anger, and malicious envy) still evoke feelings of “badness” in most folks. Gluttony lacks that sting anymore. Now it's seen as weakness, as lack of self-control, as evidence of self-loathing.
What if we encouraged people to think of gluttony – overeating, or eating overly rich foods, or fetishizing hyper-palatable foods – as a moral issue?
Would it backfire? Would it empower? Would it change the conversation in a useful way?
Is guilt too dangerous and powerful to deploy in the service of positive change?
Or might a few metaphorical (or real) Hail Marys give people a tool for confronting their temptations in a more powerful way.
I haven't thought this through. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comments section below.
Become a Health Coach
New cohort beginning Fall 2021. Live classes will be 10-11:30am US Eastern Time on Wednesday, so this is a Europe- and Africa-friendly class. Also for folks in the US, Canada, and Central/South America who have flexible mornings.
Find out more and apply here: WellStartCoach.com.
New Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight
Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.
It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂
This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by . Click the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.
The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.
It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.
You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.
Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.
This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive compensation from your actions on such links. It don't cost you a dime, tho.