Food shame is common in individuals with binge eating, food addiction, emotional or stress eating.  Certain foods are more prone to being a source of shame and can lead to overeating and binging.  How do the keto diet, paleo diet or intermittent fasting lead to food shame?  Stress can also contribute to or result in food shame.  Learn how to overcome food shame.


Hi everyone, welcome to Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross show. Today is Podcast #50 on Ending Food Shame, so please listen up if you struggle with binge eating, compulsive eating, food addiction or emotional eating and my special guest Courtney Pfeiffer who’s a dietitian for the Anchor Program will be joining me to give you a lot information on how to end food shame and also what is food shame, what cause is it, so stay tuned.

There with, Courtney Pfeiffer, and today we’re going to be talking about how to end food chain. So, as you all know, probably Courtney is a member of the anchor program team, and she’s also a registered dietitian who specializes in treating eating disorders and, uh, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Hi, Courtney. Hi.

Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here. You’re very welcome. So what is food shame? Why do people have shame around food? Sure. Well, I’m a little bit about food shame. Um, and I would say that it really starts with diets, um, that promote Chain, because, you know, what makes up a diet is it’s restrictive.

That has rules. And it deems certain foods as bad. And so, you know, when these IROs are broken, which is inevitable because we’re human. And then you think of yourself as bad, you’ve been, you’ve been bad about your eating, so to speak. Exactly. And so, um, that really reinforces that really, you know, brings up this, you know, guilt and shame.

If you do break those rules. Um, these feelings of guilt and shame come up, which leads to more of like the all or nothing and eFit mindset, which I had forgotten about the effort mindset. That’s a good one. I know. Which then can lead to, you know, over eating and bingeing because it goes to the opposite extreme because it’s like, Oh, I’ve already messed up.

And so, you know, the diet cycle continues. Um, but yeah, I think that diets and kind of that way that society looks at food really drives a lot of people’s shame around eating certain foods. Are there certain foods in particular that create more shame in this scenario? Um, I mean, it would depend on the diet you’re following and yeah.

You know, at the time. But I would say in general, yes, we eat desserts. Um, a lot of times just anything that has carbohydrates, if no, you’re on one of the mini, no carb diets. Um, you know, rich foods that might have a lot of flavor and substance and nutrients can often be seen as bad. So one of the things that I see is that people tend to go from diet to diet thinking if they just find the right diet, then they will be able to end, you know, their cravings and end their bingeing and so on.

Cause there’s so many new ones. And you know, there are lots of people even in the media who are. A registered dietician, experts, you know, on various national TV shows, talk about, uh, the ketogenic diet and, you know, fasting, intermittent fasting and so on. So, is there any value in any of that? No, not in my opinion.

Well, that was very clear. No. Um, I am very much of the philosophy of fueling your body regularly throughout the day. Um, so keeping them in Hamble as I’m going. The only way to do that is to fuel it with nutrients and the primary and preferred nutrient for your body is carbohydrate. So that is a fact. No matter how people like to try to get around that and bash it, it really does fill your metabolism, um, when even in balance and moderation throughout the day. So you described kind of a shame cycle around food, like that’s related to diets, but even when people are off their diets, they often continue to feel a lot of shame around food and talk a little bit more about that.

Yeah, and I think that just kind of carries over with the mindset that I shouldn’t eat this or that. Or even if you’re not following a diet, it’s still kinda, you might still have that feeling of. I need to be more, you can control. And when I eat this, you know, maybe it feels out of control. Maybe it gets out of control with over eating it. And that again is because this restrictive mindset kind of. Drives these more extreme overeating or avenging behaviors. Yeah.

So basically the diet mentality gets you set up for shame, and then when you inevitably can’t stay on the diet because no one can, then you get more shame. And then also if you eat certain foods that you think are bad. Then that makes you feel bad, like you’re a bad person, and then that fuels shame. I just want to remind people who are listening live. If you have a question for Courtney, just put it in the comment box and we’ll answer it online. And if you watch this later, you can still do that and we will respond to you, uh, online.

How do you get out of this shame cycle? What’s the solution. Yeah. And so, um, you know, I think a lot of times, like you were saying, people can feel like they are bad or you’re, or like they’re a failure. They have failed, um, with reinforces the feeling of shame. You know, because they couldn’t stick to this or because they’ve been judged or whatever it might be.

But I do have some solutions, um, or steps. That you can take. And so maybe one or two of these will be something that you feel like you could do, um, today. But you know, obviously one would be ditching the diet cause that’s just going to continue to reinforce that. But, um, and instead, so practicing permission versus restriction is something, I think that’s just totally unheard of.

And new concept to people, but by practicing permission, giving yourself permission to enjoy that, you might think you are whatever is and shouldn’t be. Um, it really does help to minimize the shame over time with practice, um, which helps you to be able to enjoy these things without overeating venturing on them.

Okay. So might be listening to this and think, well, if I gave myself permission and I’m just gonna go hog wild and just eat whatever, you know.  yeah. And so a small step to giving yourself permission could be enjoying one of these, um, formerly deemed bad foods with a friend, you know, in a supportive setting.

Maybe sharing it as art at a restaurant. Maybe it’s not starting with bringing large amounts into the house, but starting small, um, in more safe, um, environments. Yeah.

So bringing a food that shall not be named into your home can, can be risky, but sharing it with a friend, or maybe, you know, in a, like. For me, it’s an always cookie. So I voted my favorite cookie store. I’d buy one or two cookies instead of buying a whole bag of cookies. Yeah. Thinking about yes, exactly. Until you feel comfortable and safe around that food to where you can have them in your house. Yeah. But that’s a way that you can start and, um, and just start eating it in different way because if you have one or two, maybe you’re more likely to slow down and really takes an enjoy that food. Another would be to remove the labels of good and bad that you’ve put on foods that is hard to do. It’s so hard for people to do that. One is a really hard one. Yeah.

Like salad is always quote unquote good. And yet, you know, I see people putting like cups of salad dressing on their salad that doesn’t make it necessarily a, you know, quote unquote good food. Right. Well, it is always good, you know? Right. Um, and actually, yeah. It might not give you the best fuel because it might be lacking protein and carbohydrates in this good macro. Yeah. Um, so we’re trying to remove those labels and that takes kind of daily practice of turning those thoughts around every time they come up.

Another would be work on connecting. No connection. So connection with emotions and with body sensations, which include trying to get in touch with your own hunger and fullness cues because your body naturally gives you those. But when you’re so used to following a diet or living by the rules, or just starving yourself. Right. It’s to feeling hungry and thinking. That’s okay. Yeah. We’re feeling stuff and only recognizing that as full. Yeah. So, yeah. Um, so paying more attention to your body, essentially. I’m trying to get me connected with those natural cues. Yeah. I’m working on balance. Um, that’s kind of kind of lifetime, isn’t it? And where that can be starting small, you know, if you don’t give yourself, you’ll in the morning by not having breakfast. And maybe that would be a good start to use and balancing your day.

And then finally talking about it. So talking about the shame, talking about the behaviors of overeating and bingeing, these are all things that keeping them inside just reinforces the shame and the behaviors. But when you talked about it, whether it’s to a trusted friend, to a therapist. You’re on, you know, this, um, finding your Anchor Facebook page, you know, putting out some small information, um, can really just help normalize and, um, kind of get rid of that shame for a little bit, like did it off your shoulders and take the power away from the foods that it tends to have over a year.

Yeah. So I, I think, um, that’s, I mean, those are really good points of which to start and people can just take one of them and practice it at a time. Right. Right, exactly. Yeah. That would be the recommendation to end food shame, which we all want to do. I was talking to someone on my podcast recently and he said, we should make food more boring and make our lives more interesting. How do you feel about that? Cause I think, I think food is fun. When you know, when you have a wonderful meal that’s really fun and interesting, but it does seem like people put a lot of emphasis on their food. The food is love, food is comfort, food is stress reduction. You know, like food takes on all of these mythical, you know, meanings for us.

Yeah, I agree. And so again, I would, you know, go for the balance there because I’m a foodie. You know, I love food and the presentation of it and trying new things and, um, cooking and being creative. So I don’t think it necessarily has to be boring, but yes. I mean to put like so much emphasis on it.  it shouldn’t have, might be a little, a little much.

Yeah. It puts so much pressure on the very act of eating and since we have to eat, you know, at least three times a day or so. And even with snacks more, it’s just like for people who struggle with this, I can see that so much of their energy and time and hopes and dreams now become all about the food.

You know, their lives. Yes. And I would say, especially if someone’s on a diet that tends to be, you know, the topic of conversation, um, maybe certain foods that they have to get, you know, on this certain diet. Um. You might tend to be pretty boring and yeah, and so I’m not so sure that eating in a boring way is the solution, but I do think making, putting more of your energy into your life and not so much pressure on the food is, is part of the solution.

I agree. Yes. Any last minute comments or encouraging encouragements for the people who are listening? Um, I just, just, um, to start small, which again is opposite from a diet, which is usually a complete overhaul. This, like I said, I gave a lot of tips, but I encourage you just to maybe start with one or two that you feel are as realistic for you to start with. So start small and just know that. No. If you’ve had years of a certain kind of mindset that it’s going to take time to retrain your brain to give herself permission and that kind of thing.

Awesome. Okay. Well thank you, Courtney. Thanks for being with me and I’ll see you the next time. Okay, thank you.

I hope you enjoy the Podcast #50 on Ending Food Shame. I just want to remind everyone please give us a review on our podcast so we can help the word out. I also just want to remind you that the Anchor Program is starting a new 12 week intensive program and the Anchor Program is a non-diet approach that is all online, so perfect for the times where we can’t go out and be around bunch of other people. You can be around a group of people all online. It’s a well proven that I have been running for over a decade. And in honor of all the difficulties many of us facing financially we’re rolling back the price of the Anchor Program to the 2019 prices. So if you’re interested just message me, you can find my contact information on my website at Setup a free consult and we’ll talk about how the Anchor Program might help you with binge eating, compulsive eating, emotional or stress eating or food addiction.


Check out my TEDxPleasantGrove talk on Intergenerational trauma here:


The Anchor Program is an Online 12 week non-diet program for people with binge eating, food addiction and emotional eating: