I am so over hearing about “good” and “bad” foods. I swear, everytime someone says, “Oh I can’t have that- it’s bad for me!” I can’t help but roll my eyes. I’m a nutrition coach and personal trainer. And if you know the tiniest bit about me and my approach to diet, you know that I don’t buy into restricting foods you love. I’ve found that cutting them out of your diet largely leads to overeating and restricting later. Hello yo-yo dieting.
We don’t need to categorize foods into a binary to know how healthy they are. A head of broccoli obviously has more nutrients than a Krispy Kreme doughnut. But does that mean we should never-ever have another chocolate glazed? NO. A healthy diet is a balance between nutrient dense and processed foods. And I make a clear note to say that balance does not mean 50/50. Unprocessed, whole foods should ideally make up the majority of our diet.
But processed foods are everywhere and they are designed to taste so good! Most of us have grown up eating chips, packaged sweets, cereals, ice cream, and all the things that society deems “bad.” These foods are scientifically proven to be addictive and thus make cutting out cold turkey nearly impossible.
So what do we do?
There are quite a few ways we can approach our relationship with processed foods. If you find that there are foods you tend to overeat in a single setting, make note of them. Maybe chips are a hard item to keep in the house because you know if you have one bowl, you’ll go back for more until the bag is gone. In this case it may be helpful to say:
“Right now, keeping chips in the house isn’t working for me. If I want to enjoy them, I can absolutely go to the corner store and pick out a single serving bag.”
When we recognize our habits and label foods as ones we tend to overeat, we give reason to our issues with them instead of defaulting to… oh, well it’s just bad for me! It’s okay not to be the pinnacle of self control and if you need to establish boundaries for yourself and some of your favorite foods, do it! You can always reintroduce them later when you’ve established a strong foundation in your relationship with mindful eating.
If you take anything away from this post, I hope this quote from Precision Nutrition’s article sticks with you.
“Rigidity—good or bad, all or nothing—is the enemy of consistency.”
There is room for all sorts of food in your diet. Food is so much more than its macros. It’s connecting with others, enjoying the moment, and can even be a cultural experience! Imagine going to Italy and not enjoying the most authentic bolognese. Blasphemy!
So the next time you feel inclined to label a food “good” or “bad.” Stop. Take stock of why you think that. Is this food that I eat for energy or pleasure, or maybe both? All of those three choices have room in your diet. It’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for you.