“Food nourishes – some more completely than others.”

This is what I say anytime I hear someone describe what they are eating as good for them or bad for them.

This is language you need to stop in its tracks if you ever want to have a healthy relationship with food. If you’ve been in my world for any amount of time you know that this is where I believe our focus needs to be. Not on getting the what (i.e. what foods we are choosing) right but the how and why of eating. Having a healthy foundation here allows you to begin to nourish yourself with grace and free up mental space to focus on other health promoting factors like social connections, rest, and movement. And optimal health, being able to do the things you love, is nurtured by so much more than the foods you choose to put in your mouth. 

The restrict, crave, overindulge, repeat cycle

When you subscribe to the good food/bad food mentality, you have a list of foods to avoid. Let’s call these forbidden foods. Simply describing a food as forbidden and placing restrictions around it can lead to obsessive thoughts about food. It’s easy to become preoccupied with thoughts about what you can’t eat when you have a running list of them. This can lead to an unhealthy focus on food and make it difficult to enjoy other aspects of life.

If you have a long list of forbidden foods, it can be difficult to stick to the restrictions long-term. What then follows are feelings of deprivation, which can make it more likely that you’ll eventually give in and overindulge. You know, the “I had one so I might as well finish the sleeve!” situation.

The overindulging of forbidden foods leads to significant feelings of guilt and shame. And then after wallowing there for a bit you decide to buckle up your boot straps, make a food plan, and stick to it at all costs, thinking “this time, it will work”. But it never does. Instead, the cycle repeats itself as you eventually indulge and remain in your unhealthy patterns.

Other reasons you should throw away your list…

  1. It can be arbitrary: Often, people create forbidden food lists based on personal beliefs or popular diet trends, rather than actual scientific evidence. This can lead to unnecessarily restrictive eating patterns that are not based on sound nutritional principles. And in the end – you end up under nourished and unsatisfied.
  2. It can be socially isolating: If you have a long list of foods that you can’t eat, it can be challenging to go out to eat with friends and family or attend social events where food is involved. This can lead to feelings of isolation and make it difficult to maintain relationships.  A no bueno as social connections nourish us deeply.
  3. It. Is. Stressful: Constantly worrying about what you can and can’t eat is stressful and exhausting. This can negatively impact your mental health, overall well-being, and your ability to find joy in your days!
  4. It can be based on moral judgments: Often, the foods that are labeled as “bad” are those that are high in calories, sugar, or fat. This can lead to moral judgments about people who eat these foods, which can be harmful and perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

Overall, it’s important to approach food in a balanced and flexible way, without moral judgments or restrictive rules. Instead of labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” try to focus on how different foods make you feel and how they fit into your overall dietary pattern. Use descriptive words such as sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy, etc. This isn’t easy as it is a complete shift the way you might currently approach food. But the more you use it, the more natural it will become and the more those around you will catch on. 

I’d love to hear from you. Do you have a good food/bad food list? What scares you about letting go of it? Who would you be if you weren’t so focused on it?

By Published On: May 11th, 2023Categories: Uncategorized0 Comments

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