6 Ways to Stop Feeling So Anxious Around Food, From the Co-Creator of Whole30

For some, the word “diet” is enough to trigger anxiety, fear of failure, and wistful visions of the queso dip and Nutella-filled doughnuts you’re not supposed to eat while on one. And even if you’re not the type to say you’re on a diet, you’ve probably tried to watch what you eat or cut back on sugar before—then felt pangs of regret after coming down from the rush of eating a slice of yet another coworker’s birthday cake. That unhealthy pattern of guilt is what Melissa Hartwig, cocreator of the Whole30 program, wants to help you beat in her book Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food.

Here’s the thing: You should be able to eat the occasional doughnut and love every single fluffy bite without shaming yourself afterward. It’s great to have weight loss goals and hopes for a healthier you, but mental health is just as important as physical, so finding peace with your eating habits is key to long-term success. In Food Freedom Forever, Hartwig outlines exactly how to reset your eating habits and regain control of your food choices in the process. Here are 6 of her tricks that you can use to stop stressing over everything you eat—and start enjoying it.

Eliminate “shame” from your food vocabulary.

food guilt


Eliminate “shame” from your food vocabulary.

“The words you choose to describe your food and yourself have real power,” Hartwig says. “Treating yourself like a child who needs to ‘be good’ on their diet is misguided. What happens when a child misbehaves? They are punished. Food should never be associated with punishment.” And try to stop categorizing the foods you eat as “good” or “bad.” Doing so only heightens the guilt you feel when you eat something from your “bad” list.

Related: 6 Women Share the One Mistake That Sabotaged Their Weight-Loss Journey for Years

Hartwig writes, “Someone asked me on Facebook recently, ‘I ate a Whole30-inspired diet all day, and I know what to call that—I just say I ate Whole30. But what should I call it when later, I eat some pizza? Cheat? Slip? Fail?’” Her reply: “What if you just called it ‘eating pizza?’”