Hey lovelies! Welcome back to my blog and thank you for reading! Today I wanted to write the first post in a series I’ll be calling “Stop Fearing and Start Fueling.” This series will be focusing on common foods the media labels as “bad” and debunking the myths behind them and also the “fear food” we create for ourselves and how to overcome them. I know a lot of my readers are girls who have a past with eating disorders or unhealthy relationships with food, so I hope this can help shed some light on why we should stop fearing certain foods. I also know a lot of you just want some insight on healthy living, so this series can help provide some truth and information on why certain foods you may think are “bad” really aren’t. Today I wanted to just start by talking about the idea of “good” food and “bad” food.
Let’s stop fearing and start fueling. (hashtag worthy? let me know)
(I would like to preface this blog post by clarifying that I am not a doctor, dietician, etc, and am simply sharing my own knowledge through research and experience. If you have any dietary restrictions, please follow your doctor’s guidelines for what is healthy for you. If you are struggling with any type of eating disorder I encourage you to seek help and visit a doctor and dietician.)
I’d like to start off by saying I believe there is no such thing as “good” and “bad” foods. I do believe there are foods that are more nutrient dense and foods that are less nutrient dense, but I don’t like to “food shame.” Of course I don’t believe McDonald’s is especially good for you (as far as the ingredients and chemicals they add to their food) but I also don’t think having McDonald’s once in a while is bad.
Labeling food as “good” or “bad” implies you are better for eating “good” or worse for eating “bad.” No, food doesn’t have morals and what you eat makes you no better or no worse than anyone else.
HEALTHY IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE
What is healthy or not healthy for someone is going to depend on their own situation. Everyone is different. Not only do we look different, but we are genetically and biochemically different as well. Food allergies and intolerances are good examples.
Lifestyle also plays an important role for someone’s dietary needs. An athlete will need much fuel than someone who is sedentary. A runner will likely need many more carbs than someone that just leisurely goes to the gym a few times a week.
For someone who is overweight and dealing with diabetes, Ben & Jerry’s in that case would be “un-healthy” for them because they probably need to be focusing on a lower sugar, lower calorie diet with the goal of improving their health. On the other hand, for a girl recovering from an eating disorder, who may need to gain weight and mentally need to challenge herself to having the ice cream- Ben & Jerry’s would be a very healthy choice for her. Her body needs those calories, fats, and carbs, and also it’s a big mental step to overcome. This example shows that just saying “ice cream is bad” makes no sense. The ice cream is not “bad”, it just depends on the context.
HEALTH IS NOT JUST ABOUT FOOD
The terms “good” and “bad” food usually only refer to health. But food is and should be more than just fuel. For most us, food has the ability to increase our quality of life and also happiness! When we think of food only for the health benefits, we might be missing out on overall happiness. Happiness does play a big role in our overall health. And isn’t that what it’s all about? What is the the point of living a long “healthy” life if you are unhappy doing it?
Of course, if you strictly focus on “foods that make you happy” and only enjoy fast food and neglect nutrient dense foods, it can eventually make you unhappy and unhealthy. It is all about balancing and trying to maximize both happiness and health. Besides, how “bad” is a food really, when it makes you so happy to eat it once in a while?
The media way too often tries to tell us which foods are “bad” and which foods are “super” and will “prevent disease” in some magical way. Nobody wants to click on a Facebook article that says “The Key to Being Healthy is All About Balance and We Can’t Say What That Will Be For You.” No, that is long and boring. People want a quick fix and need a catchy title to draw them in. “Lose Weight Only Eating Bananas” or “10 Foods That May Be Secretly Killing You.” Let me tell you, you can eat as much kale and chia seeds as you want – but those alone are not going to make you healthy. “Health” has so many factors including your exercise, sleep, hormones, and is completely unique to each individual. We can’t simply say that eating super foods is an all across the board “fix” to our health.
Besides from “worshipping” certain foods, the media try to demonize other foods. Like one food is what’s going to make you unhealthy or gain weight. I am a nutrition nerd and I love learning about it, but nothing bothers me more than the people that try to shame others for what they choose to eat. Dairy may not be great for some people, but I’m not going to tell someone it’s “bad.” For example, I don’t think of butter as “bad” like many people think, it’s actually a very healthy fat and has no proven negative effects on health – but that’s another conversation for another day. 😉
Before you get drawn in to what media has to say, do your own research and ask yourself what you think about it.
LEARNING TO STOP FEARING FOOD
For me, a big part of my health journey was actually focusing less on being perfectly “healthy” with food. I had to learn that “unhealthy foods” (I put that in quotes because again- who determines what’s unhealthy for me??) had a place in a healthy balanced diet. The fact that I feared eating pizza was more unhealthy than if I actually ate that pizza. Mental stress and fear around food does more damage to our health than a slice of pizza ever could. I had to learn to see food for what it was. I had to learn to talk myself through it in my head. “Yes that pizza has more calories than my typical dinner, but what are calories again? They are units of energy. Okay, so it’s just more energy. And pizza is really just bread. I like bread. With cheese. I like cheese. Tomato sauce and veggies and meat. Cool.” Not so scary when you break it down right?
Of course I am not saying I eat pizza everyday. I really like fueling my body with whole food sources like meats, rice, sweet potatoes, oats, peanut butter, eggs, avocados, fruit, veggies, etc… but I don’t just eat those things because I “have to.” It’s a choice and I choose to eat other things when I want to. But I am still working on my own journey to being completely guilt free when I eat foods I’m not as comfortable with. And that’s okay. I want to show you guys it’s OKAY to feel like that, but it’s not okay to let it effect you. If you’re out with friends at a restaurant and you want to order a burger but you feel like you “should” order a salad, stop and think. Do you want a salad because you truly want that salad or is it because you’re trying to order something low calorie? It’s totally cool to want a salad, I love salad. But’s also cool to want a burger. And you should honor that. It’s not cool to think a burger is “bad.”
I hope this post wasn’t too rambly for you and maybe helped a bit. Let me know your thoughts on the idea of “good” and “bad” food and what you’d like me to talk about next.