Let’s start with the basics here: food is fuel. All food provides our bodies with fuel, energy, and nourishment. Different foods have different nutrients and while some foods may not give us as many nutritional benefits as others, it doesn’t mean these foods are “bad” or worse than others. Don’t get me wrong, choosing foods that are nutritious and benefit our body’s health is important. However, sticking the label of “good” or “bad” on foods can do more harm than we may realize.
When we label our foods as “good” or “bad,” we give foods too much power, which can lead to disordered eating. Restricting these “bad” foods can cause a binge-restrict pattern which is harmful to our mental and physical health. This can also cause unneeded stress or preoccupation with these foods. Instead of restricting the foods we label as “bad,” learn to eat all foods in moderation.
Too much of a good thing can be bad as well. Even too much water can be harmful! Too much can mean eating too much in terms of quantity or eating particular foods to the exclusion of others that will help you get well-balanced nutrition. We aren’t meant to eat one food group for the rest of our lives. Our bodies thrive on a diet of different foods and nutrients. Eating a variety of foods ensures we are meeting our nutrition needs, prevents nutritional deficiencies, and reduces obsessions over specific foods.
Listen to your body. If you’re craving a certain food, eat it! There’s power in being able to eat all foods in moderation without fear of guilt or judgement. Every meal or snack that you eat won’t be perfect. But one imperfect snack or meal doesn’t define your nutrition status or self-worth.
Holistic health is about empowering all areas of wellbeing- physical, mental, emotional, and social. You may have a low body fat percentage by eating a diet of chicken and vegetables but feel guilty when you go out to eat with friends. Sacrificing mental, emotional, and social health to only eat “good” foods to reach unrealistic physical goals can lead to more harm than good.
It’s important to know that health comes in many looks and sizes. Even if everyone in the world ate the same exact foods and exercised the same exact way, we’d all still look different. Eating a well-balanced diet and living an active lifestyle includes nutritious foods and foods you enjoy. Prioritize your self-care and do what makes you feel your best.