By Tina Haupert

A few months ago, I went out to lunch with a friend of mine. As I was perusing the menu, she said she planned to order something light because she had overdone it the night before on pizza and beer. She went on to explain that she had been "so bad" and wanted to be "good" today.

I don't like using the words "good" or "bad" to describe food choices, but I knew exactly how she felt. There were plenty of times in my life that I felt guilty about the food choices I had made or how much of those foods I had consumed. But the more I thought about what my friend said, the more I realized eating certain foods shouldn't make anyone feel good or bad about themselves.

Like many people, I've felt bad about devouring nearly a dozen freshly baked cookies or an entire plate of buffalo chicken nachos at the bar. On the flip side, I've felt good about eating a fresh salad topped with baked tofu or drinking a bright-green smoothie. I've even tried to make up for eating something bad by eating something good. But, over the years, I've learned that attaching a moral judgment to food prevents me from enjoying it to its fullest.

A foodie trip to Orlando changed my thinking about food forever. The purpose of the trip was to experience the dining and culinary scene, which meant eating nonstop for nearly five days straight. Most days, we ate more than three meals a day! After overindulging at the very first meal of the trip, I felt sort of bad the next morning, so I vowed to eat light. Sound familiar?

Well, the next morning the group enjoyed the most amazing brunch at Bull & Bear in the Waldorf Astoria. The spread included freshly squeezed juice, a wonderful selection of pastries, honey truffle butter, Angus prime beef, tomahawk rib-eye steak, eggs, potato pancakes, and more. I knew right then that assigning a moral judgment to this food would prevent me from enjoying it to its fullest. I'd miss out on the flavors, textures, and smells because I'd be so focused on trying to be good. So, right then and there, I decided to enjoy what I was eating and not let it affect how I felt about myself—and, boy, did I eat! The Orlando Culinary Tour was one of the greatest foodie experiences of my life.

That trip taught me how to really appreciate food. I learned that the more judgmental I was about what I ate, the less delicious the food became. Over-obsessing about every single bite that I put into my mouth was exhausting. But after spending five days surrounded by amazing food and enthusiastic foodies, I realized that living a healthy life and maintaining my Feel Great Weight was all about balance. The way I see it, there's room in my diet for healthy foods, but also for a little indulging every once in a while!