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What does it mean when I feel that I have to "work off" every bit of food that I eat?

11 Answers
Last Updated: 06/25/2018 at 3:44am
1 Tip to Feel Better
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Katherine Aucoin, Transpersonal Counselling Psychology


I specialize in women's issues. I offer you compassion and support on your unique journey and work with you to heal your emotional wounds to find more freedom and joy.

Top Rated Answers
March 25th, 2015 6:54am
That you're starting to associate the shame or unhappiness you might have in your physical appearance with your diet, making the untrue connection that you could be [x] if you ate less/better. When you do eat - regardless of how well or healthy it is - you have to exercise to burn off the calories. Try to remember that guilt is a poor motivator, it rarely will help you achieve the body outcome you hope for - instead causing you to be depressed, unhappy and unmotivated (and for many people these feelings prompt binge eating - so you can even be working against your goal). The best diets are lifestyles - not a tit-for-tat eating and exercising regime. It's true that weight loss can be oversimplified into a calories in-energy used metric, but ultimately a healthy person with a healthy body won't be able to 100% control what they eat or how much they can exercise all the time, you have to live well and part of that is being forgiving of yourself. You need to enjoy what you're doing and how you're living - guilting yourself and hoping it motivates you won't achieve that.
April 18th, 2015 10:22pm
You body naturally burns calories everyday in order to keep your heart beating, lungs breathing, and head thinking. Everything requires energy to function. Some people believe that they must have caloric intake and physical exertion cancel each other out in order to keep the body in the same state over time. This isn't necessary because the body burns generally over 2000 calories a day without any extra physical activity. Your body requires energy to function. It is normal.
May 4th, 2015 11:06pm
I think it means you are experiencing an negative body image (one of many terms) . If you feel to work food off you maybe suffering from an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not only starving yourself of excessive throwing up. You can experience over exercising some also use forms of laxative.
May 8th, 2015 1:47am
It means you have to burn the calories that equal your food. They average girl burns 1600 calories a day and average boy 2000, Make sure you are not depriving yourself of food though :)
May 22nd, 2015 10:36am
Feeling that you have to work off every bit of food that you eat means that you feel the compulsive need to burn as many calories as you take in during that day.
June 4th, 2015 2:01pm
It might mean you feel ashamed for eating and that you have to make up for what you've consumed. If you feel guilty or disgusted and you constantly think about what you eat and how much you should eat then it could mean you have an eating disorder or are on your way to develop one.
July 28th, 2015 9:02pm
It means that how many calories, carbs, sugars and fats you just ate - you want to work it back off. You want to exercise so that you basically didn't eat it.
December 28th, 2015 6:05pm
This can be quite tricky, feeling the need to burn off extra calories to balance the caloric input is quite common. However, you must consider your metabolic rate and several other factors that require you to have a certain amount of energy input (consumption of food) in your body. You don't necessarily need to work off every bit of food you need because your body uses them already. To make this a little easier on your mind, consider eating well-balanced meals and nutritious snacks. Hope you feel better soon and take care
August 16th, 2016 3:39pm
You may feel guilty for eating certain foods. If they are healthy foods then there should be no guilt there. However, if it's unhealthy such as fatty or sugary foods then you feel like you'll put on weight. This may cause you to want to get rid of it and 'work off'.
January 15th, 2018 7:33am
Food is nourishment for your body & should be enjoyed. Try to find one thing about your body that you love and focus on that. If you feel the need to work off some of the food you just ate then challenge yourself to do enough exercise to feel good and it not to be a punishment.
June 25th, 2018 3:44am
If you feel you have to "work off" food to an obsessive and disruptive amount, then this could be a sign of an eating disorder. However, I cannot give you a diagnosis. Seeing a professional can help determine whether this is healthy behavior and determine the best path for you.