“I was really good today” “I ate all the bad things” “It was a cheat on my diet” “That’s really clean”
… have you ever referred to your food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
Let’s get this straight up front. Foods are not good or bad. They have no moral compass, angelic halo, or evil intent. They are just, well, food. A bunch of edible chemicals.
And most foods have their place. Which can be for health, performance and / or performance.
Now, there are foods that are more versus less nutrient dense. By ‘nutrient dense’ I mean provide a range of vitamins, minerals, fibres and / or other things the body needs to function, as well as calories and macronutrients the body can utilize. Essentially the ‘value add’ the food can give to keep us healthy and performing to our best.
Most of us will typically want to focus on eating nutrient dense foods ALWAYS. And perhaps the less nutrient dense foods SOMETIMES or OCCASIONALLY.
There will be times when we can more easily include more of the SOMETIMES or OCCASIONALLY foods than others. For example, if we need to eat a lot of calories and have already included more than enough of the nutrient dense foods.
And there will be times when we might find it harder to include the SOMETIMES or OCCASSIONALLY so often. For example, when we are staying in a calorie deficit to lose weight and so need to maximise the nutrient density of our food to make sure we get all the vitamins, minerals and fibre that we need.
But this does not make any food in any category ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It just makes it more or less suited to our needs at any one point in time.
By assigning words such as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to food we create emotion around it. We feel virtuous or sinful with certain choices. And these can cause us to have anxiety around food. Which is really never constructive, and certainly doesn’t help us feel happy or accomplished.
So, let us try and remove the emotion and think just about whether a food fits our needs and our priorities at this point in time. And a priority of ‘It is my favourite food and so I would like to eat it, and I am happy with the trade-off that might mean for my calorie deficit this week’ is a perfectly legitimate one!