Weight loss

Let them eat cake! Best way to drop pounds is to drop the guilt

Dec. 5, 2013 at 4:25 PM ET

celebrating eating
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woman eating cake

Guilt…who needs it? Not anyone who is looking to lose weight.

Educators from the Department of Psychology at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand gathered nearly 300 adults of various ages and asked them the following question: When you think about chocolate cake, do you connect it to a celebration or with guilt? Their response: 73% of the volunteers linked it to a celebration and 27% associated it with the dreadful "g" word.

Part two of the experiment was to determine if their feelings about chocolate cake (their “default food association”) had any correlation with the number on the scale (among the participants who had weight loss goals). 

According to a study's highlights recently published in the journal Appetite, the “guilty” volunteers reported “lower levels of perceived behavioral control over eating.” They were also less successful at losing weight during a three-month period and were less likely to maintain their weight over the course of 18 months.

Let’s face it—unless you haven’t apologized for wronging someone, guilt is a pointless emotion. And sadly, the majority of us tend to feel guilty about the most ridiculous things. As a result, it will slowly chip away at your intentions and will eventually rob you of your power, including the power to take charge of your health. I believe this quote from author Daniel Nayeri says it all: “Guilt is a useless feeling. It’s never enough to make you change direction—only enough to make you feel useless.”

Guilt be gone—now bring on the cake so we can celebrate!

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.


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