I think in the health and nutrition world, it is becoming more common to adopt the “all foods fit” principles. But perhaps that is not mainstream, as I still get the shocked look on clients’ faces when I tell them there are no “bad” foods.
I truly do not believe any one food or food group is the root of all evil or is causing all our health problems. I believe there is room for all foods in a balanced lifestyle. No, that doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want all the time! Everything in moderation, right?
I recently read a quote by another dietitian that said, “You can eat anything you want and have the health you want. But you can’t eat anything you want, anytime you want, in any portion you want.” I completely agree!
I had a nutrition client the other day that as we were going through his “typical” day food recall, he reported he eats rice cakes (carb) as part of a snack. Ok, totally fine. But a little bit later he states that he doesn’t eat bread (also a carb) because he thinks it’s “bad”. Hmm… I do not understand. They are both a source of carbohydrates and therefore a source of energy. If anything, bread (when whole wheat) is providing more fiber and nutrients than the rice cakes so it was interesting to me that he deemed bread to be “bad”. This lead to further conversation about there are no “bad” foods. He replied with “you don’t think donuts are bad?!” No, I do not. In fact, I think donuts are good! Yum 🙂 I told him that I do not believe in good and bad foods, but rather ask yourself, “what is this food providing?” Is it providing energy, nutrients, carbs, protein, fat, etc.? Or is it fulfilling another need such as emotional comfort, delicious taste, or as part of a social experience with family or friends?
Food is meant to be enjoyed and I am getting tired of the shame/guilt graphics and messages surrounding food such as “you would need to run this many miles to burn off each of these foods”. I think a better way to approach is balance. If you enjoy running, run! If you enjoy eating a donut every now and then, great! If you prefer walking or yoga as a way to move your body, fantastic! If your favorite food is cheese, enjoy!
What good does it do to 1) avoid your favorite food(s) because you deem them “bad” or 2) eat your favorite food(s) and then feel guilty or shameful about it, which ultimately takes away from the food’s enjoyment?
Yes, I am a Registered Dietitian and I love ice cream! Do I eat ice cream all day, every day? No. (Although I probably could). But when I want ice cream, I eat it. And I don’t feel an ounce of guilt about it. Nor do I feel like I then need to go run in order to burn off the calories I ate.
I get it. I really do. I have been there. I have been in a place where I counted every calorie and exercised to burn a certain amount of calories. But that was not sustainable nor very enjoyable and while I now weigh 10-15 lbs. more than I did during that time in my life, I have a much more relaxed approach to food and exercise. I try to eat healthy most of the time, but I also enjoy my favorite foods without the guilt. And let me tell you, it is so much better this way!! So please, do yourself a favor and stop stressing. Food is not “good” or “bad”, food is just food. And if you are struggling with this, please seek help from a Registered Dietitian and/or a therapist.