New Poll Reveals That 80 Percent of Women Suffer From Food Guilt

05/21/2015 11:19 pm ET | Updated May 21, 2016

Before I got into the world of health and nutrition, I was pretty unhealthy. I grew up on the standard American diet, eating nothing but processed foods. I was addicted to sugar by age 12 and quickly became an emotional eater. I tried various diets before I even reached college. I lost weight, gained weight, and was a slave to my sacred scale.

Over time, I became fed up. There was no joy in the way I approached food. These experiences pushed me to become my own health advocate, to help free myself from my unhealthy habits and, in turn, led me to pursue a career in health and nutrition.

During my health coach training, I reverted back to my younger ways except this time, with organic and unprocessed food. I tried various types of clean eating programs from raw to vegan to paleo. Smoothies became a staple until eggs became cool again. I was obsessed with eating healthy all of the time. While I might've been putting healthier foods into my body, I still wasn't feeling good while eating.

Needless to say, this feeling is a common one. I've found that most people, regardless of their nutrition background, deal with this feeling on a daily basis. That feeling is food guilt.

Food guilt is the guilt we feel around eating, or not eating, certain foods -- especially when it comes to eating "junk food" or falling off of the healthy-eating wagon.

Because of the food guilt I've witnessed in both my clients and peers, I decided to dig a bit deeper into this issue. I conducted a survey with the Harris Poll/Nielsen Group, and we found that nearly 80 percent of women and almost 70 percent of men suffer from food guilt.

That's more than three-fourths of American women and more than half of American men that are placing fear around their food choices. This is everything from the non-organic vegetables to the ice cream cone from the local creamery.

It is important that we recognize how we have come to fear food in our culture. We've taken any excitement, enjoyment or pleasure from our food and have infused it with toxicity, both figuratively and literally. This type of stress that we carry around food can lead to things like eating disorders, weight issues, anxiety, and depression.

I believe it's time we start switching our thoughts around food from guilt to love.

In my work, I've dug deep into our relationships with food -- from emotional eating to food guilt to figuring out what eating lifestyle will work for you.

This is the place from which my new book, Food Guilt No More, was birthed. I saw this need for people from all walks of the health spectrum to be able to look at food with love rather than constant guilt and shame. Regardless if it's a piece of organic kale or a processed cookie, it's important for people to take back their pleasure in food and find peace while eating once and for all.

If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.