“Good” vs “Bad” Foods – If You Have a Complicated Relationship With Food, Here’s What To Know

I often ask people what they’re eating… it’s part of my job as a naturopathic doctor!  But, as you know, that is a loaded question for many of us.

I’ve come to realize that most women (and plenty of men too) have a SUPER complicated relationship with food.  I know I have in the past!

When I ask my patients about food, I get a lot of “oh, I was so good/bad yesterday…”.

Let’s take a closer look at this statement.  The idea of good foods vs bad foods comes partially from what people believe is healthy, but also largely from what they think will help them lose weight.  

Our habit of dieting to try to lose weight has taught us over time that certain foods are more acceptable than others.

But categorizing food as “good” and “bad” actually isn’t helpful at all.  By putting a moral judgement on your food, you’re actually judging yourself as a “good” or “bad” person on a particular day, based on what you eat.  

Look back at the quote above, because these are literally the words that I hear come out of people’s mouths every day: “I was so bad yesterday.”  Listen for the next time you hear this (or say it yourself!), because it is all over the place once you start paying attention.

Two things:

(1) YOU are NOT a better or worse person because of what you eat.  Ever.  No matter what it is; no matter how long you can or can’t sustain that way of eating; no matter what happens to your weight along the way.  You are still the same person, worthy of all the same things.  And no one (certainly not you) wins when you find a way to categorize yourself as “bad”.

(2) Denying ourselves pleasurable foods, or the ability to take pleasure in the food that we eat, is HARMFUL.  It’s harmful in many ways, but primarily: It causes guilt, which can negatively affect us in any number of ways, AND it actually makes us think about the “forbidden” foods more!  It primes our brain to think more in all-or-nothing terms, which is a breeding ground for things like binge eating and feeling “out of control” around food.

Emotional eating gets a bad rap – but here’s the truth about it: eating IS, in part, an emotional experience!   So stop resisting it!

Our bodies are designed to derive pleasure from food when we eat it – that’s part of what helps us stay alive!  Otherwise we could eat cardboard all day long, and as long as it had nutrients, we would never need anything else.  But that would be GROSS, totally depressing, and I don’t know about you, but I would NOT be about it.

Eating is about more than physical nourishment – it’s also about sharing moments with friends and family, it’s about celebration (birthday cake, anyone?), and it’s about enjoyment.  

By beating yourself up about taking pleasure in the food you eat, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

So instead, try this: eat what you want, and dare to enjoy it.  

Experience the freedom of allowing yourself to have what you want, without guilt. Easier said than done, I know – but there’s no other place to start.

Take the first step to breaking free of the diet-binge merry-go-round.

Maybe you’re asking yourself… “but what about my health?  If I let myself eat anything I want, I’ll just eat pizza and ice cream foreverrrrr!!!!”

I got you – we’ll cover this in next week’s blog, so stay tuned.

And in the meantime… eat something delicious!