Something that affects both your mental health and physical health significantly is your relationship with food or how you view food. This influences your eating habits, your appetite, your food choices, and how you feel about food.
What I love about my work is that I get to appreciate how complex our relationship with food is. Every single person is unique genetically and they have unique upbringings, preferences, and experiences with eating.
So it’s probably no surprise that one of my biggest pet peeves is when wellness articles and health experts use the terms “good” and “bad” when it comes to food. And I’m far from perfect, I catch myself doing it unknowingly, too.
It’s because diet culture and media have been very successful at instilling this polarizing way of marketing food items. From a young age, many of us are taught that foods have moral implications or good versus bad.
This very fast way of processing nutrition information works with the primitive parts of our brain because, at one time in our evolutionary history, we needed to know what foods were bad and deadly, and what foods were good for survival.
This is why the diet industry is worth over 200 billion dollars today because of polarizing views on food work!
For a few decades in North America, fats were deemed as BAD. So there was a whole generation of people who ate low-fat, fat-free processed foods.
And then they discovered that not all fats are bad and in fact, there are many natural sources of fats that are vital for health and disease prevention!
And then for a few decades, people in North America said all CARBS is bad. So people went on low-carb diets and zero-carb diets.
The problem with this line of thinking is how extreme it is.
Not all carbs or sugars are bad, and certainly not for everyone. Some people really need sugars to help them do their jobs and thrive in life. But their intake has to match their context.
The same goes for fat or any other nutrient.
It’s just like the weather. Rain isn’t good or bad, it’s all about context, like how much is it raining? Is it raining when more water is needed? How often is it raining?
Instead of asking if a food is good or bad, I challenge you to ask yourself the following questions:
-What can this food do for MY health — both mental and physical?
-How much of this food do I need to help me get the benefits?
-How often should I consume this?
-Where and when should I eat this food for the best results?
These questions are just to get you started on cultivating a more mindful and informed approach to nutrition. And you’ll see that almost all foods can have a time and place in your unique definition of a “balanced diet”.
Chocolate chip cookies, pizza, broccoli, and tofu, aren’t good and bad, and eating them doesn’t make you good or bad. They are simply here to serve your health.
We are no longer living in an era where our foods have to be labeled with black-and-white, life-or-death messages. That only exacerbates our disordered relationships with food and keeps us in the dark about how our bodies really work.
And its use for every single person is different. Some people need a bigger serving of its nutritional benefits, while others need a smaller serving to supplement their balanced diet. You get to control how you use it in your health journey.