Why food is not good or bad
“Oh no! I can’t eat pasta that's a bad food”.
If you’ve said this to someone or to yourself, this article is for you.
We all know this feeling and thought, “that food is bad for me”. Usually the culprits consist of heavy carb foods, treats, snacks, drinks, meats...anything and everything at one point has been “bad for you”.
I remember when a diet that had high fat was bad for you. The craze to have low-fat milk, low fat cheese, low fat butter helped to mold our vision of what was healthy for us or not.
Honestly - we aren’t even to blame...the media has controlled what we perceive as good or bad. They play the line of research studies that find and create all or nothing statements about food or nutrients.
A diet like the keto diet has gotten lots of praise and attention in the past few years. It’s the new fad diet that is determined to be “good for us”.
History has shown us that this is just the “flavor of the week”, and something that will change as time goes on.
What exactly determines what a bad food is?
Normally people would consider that a “Bad food” is something that doesn’t provide good nutrition to our bodies. Foods that are high in fat, high in sugar, or high in sodium and processed additives are considered a “bad” food.
On one end, yes..these foods aren’t ideal and shouldn’t be a constant in people’s diets. I would never tell someone to only drink soda, only eat ice cream and choose mid morning snacks that are gummy bears and goldfish!
These foods are easy to overeat as they don’t provide nutrients such as fiber to help satiate us after finishing. These foods are also highly palatable which makes it that much easier to continue to eat or drink way past our necessary amount.
This is why they get such a bad wrap because they are almost always associated with weight and fat gain.
We’ve been sold this idea that these foods provide no nutritional value and will derail you from your goals.
However even your chocolate chip cookie will provide nutritional value in the form of energy. Every food has some caloric properties and will be used in almost the same exact way as a piece of fruit or vegetable. Energy is created equal in this , and so are the calories you are eating. It’s really quite simple...anything you put in your body (food or drink wise!) will be broken down and digested into usable forms of energy.
20 calories of cookie is used in the same fashion as 20 calories of an apple
So what’s this mean?
The chocolate chip that you so often dread eating is providing you similar energy as would a piece of fruit. The big difference here is that it’s a whole lot easier to eat 5 cookies than it is to eat 5 apples of equal size. The apples will simply fill you up much more quickly, are not as palatable and require more work to eat (need to cut, slice etc.).
The true problem occurs when it comes to eating too much, and too often in your weekly diet. Instead of seeing things in black or white, good or bad...try to understand that food doesn’t have a preference and your body doesn’t pick sides!
What does eating bad foods in moderation look like?
This question is highly specific to each individual but I will paint with a broad brush here to help illuminate how you can still be healthy while eating “bad foods”.
The goal here is to create a realistic view of how “bad foods” should be eaten and how often.
One thing that I use with clients is for them to pick 2-3 days where they will want a snack, a treat, or a “bad food”. Simply limiting the days that you dive into something that is extra tasty will decrease your overall calories, and reduce your overall weight over time. This is a highly effective strategy for those who can’t get rid of their sweet tooth or have issues when it comes to diving into a big bowl of pasta 4x a week!
For example, I’m a huge fan of chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I can eat that every night while watching Netflix after dinner! Now I know that when I tend to eat more ice cream, I notice a change in my body.
So knowing this, and knowing how much I love ice cream I made a plan for myself to only eat Ice cream 2-3 nights a week.
What I found was that on nights I didn’t eat any...I didn’t crave any because either
I just had it the night before and don’t really want it
I’m looking forward to 2 nights from now when I can guilt-free eat the ice cream.
Remembering that I want to continue to improve my physical fitness and limiting the treats at night will help me get there.
This same line of thinking can be used for any type of food, not just desserts.
Let’s be real here - once you start telling yourself you can’t eat that food….your body wants it more than ever.
This isn’t about restriction it’s about freedom of choice. The choice is yours to decide what you find important enough to make changes in and where you will place your focus!
What makes a good food?
You might be reading this and think..."uhhh - yes I know what a good food is!"
Normally however good foods are those that are grown from the earth, not found in any packages and are low in sugar, fat, and calories.
This is me painting with another broad stroke, but more often than not when you think of a good food you will see a piece of broccoli, lean meat or fruit in your mind!
Now I would recommend that 85% food intake coming from these sources.
If you follow our Instagram you already know we love to use lots of different colors in meals as well as plenty of vegetables.
Okay so what’s the problem then of seeing these foods as “good”?
How the good vs. bad creates a problem
For us - this dichotomy of good vs bad is strictly a mindset problem. You won’t get fat or gain weight just because you see foods as good or bad. However you might be more prone to extreme dieting if you do believe this.
Have you ever been in a position where you had “enough of this food” and decided to cut it out completely?
How did that work for you? Were you able to maintain this for a long time? Did this last 2 weeks and then did you slowly creep back to your normal eating habits?
I hear this all the time…”I’m going to cut out rice, pasta, cookies...etc”. Basically, cutting out “bad food” because... why?
Bad foods are the foods that are holding you back right?
I would argue with a resounding...NO!
I can take this one to the bank and cash it because I know it’s not the food that is the problem but rather the habits that are the foundation of eating poor food choices!
It’s very easy to point at a food and say “No more eating you! You are only causing me pain and discomfort and making my pants tight!”
It’s a lot harder to take an honest look at yourself and say “hey..I notice that when I’m home from work before dinner I tend to stress eat pretzels”.
By only seeing foods as good or bad you limit the opportunity to take a hard look at what really is causing the issue. It takes the responsibility off of yourself and puts it into a piece of food.
How can you can move on from good vs bad food
I want you to leave this blog with some actionable steps to help you get back on track and back in the right mindset when it comes to making changes to your weight, body fat, and overall confidence!
1. Plan 2-3 meals/snacks a week that you enjoy that “bad” food that you so desperately want to get rid of. Stop trying to cut that one food out - it only causes more stress and resentment to the whole “diet” process. The process should work within your life and allow you to flourish!
2. Start thinking of eating a little bit better. Change the voice in your head from saying “I ate really good today” to “I ate better today”. “I ate bad today” to “I could have eaten better today”. This puts your head into a positive minded state which will help you stay motivated to improve rather than feel forced into eating good or bad.
3. Get away from social media or news that constantly talks about good vs. bad. There’s no denying the influence of those “social influencers” and media heads who want to sell a headline but saying big statements about different foods. Super food this, bad food that...enough already! Find that works for you and turn off that influence from someone who doesn’t even know you.
Try out these tips and see if they work for you. At the end of the day the foods you choose to eat are your responsibility. You have complete control of what you put in your body regardless if it's considered by others to be “good or bad”. Life isn’t so black and white nor should your food choices be. Everything has its place and everything is “on the table”.
Get your mind right and your body will follow!