The topic of what food is “good” and what is “bad” seems to come up with alarming regularity. I all too often see people who have had it ingrained into them by the diet culture, previous PTs, the media, etc that some foods are “good” and others are “bad”. I hate this. I genuinely hate this.
Yes, there are foods that support our health more than others. Yes, there are foods that fuel us better for work, exercise, life. Yes, there are foods that, if eaten 100% of the time would do us more harm than good. But can we say any one of these is “good” or “bad”? If you stuck to the different food stories in the media over the months and years, you’d never eat anything. Everything seems to have been demonised at some point. I remember red peppers being a bad thing some years ago; bananas have their phases; red meat, white meat, fish, chocolate, red wine, white wine. Aarrrgh!
I am not for a second saying we should ignore the five (or more) a day idea; I’m not suggesting we all live off pizza and chocolate. No. Not for a second. To suggest that would be to go against what supports our health, and fuels our body to do what we require of it.
What I am getting at is that we can change our language around food. Rather than good vs bad, healthy vs unhealthy, why not look at it as food. I know my clients are intelligent. I know they know what foods will support their health. I know they get tempted by “yummies” – don’t we all? The huge thing here is to remove the “bad” label from the latter. So long as it’s forbidden, we will crave it. We will want to rebel against ourselves and have another slice of cake while nobody’s looking. And hey, if nobody saw it we don’t need to acknowledge it happened, right?
I am often asked by clients to review their food diary. More than happy to. Will I then produce a calorie-counted meal plan? No. I’ll look at what times of day they are eating and aren’t eating. Skipping breakfast can lead to grabbing extra food later, because of an energy slump; a mid afternoon slice of cake can show lunch wasn’t balanced enough. Also, I like to look at WHY someone is eating. Is it habit? Is it comfort? Is it stress? Is it actual hunger?
Once we get to the bottom of why someone is eating what they’re eating when they’re eating it we stand a much better chance of making little changes that will bring big results. No diets, no meal plans, just little changes.
And with those little changes comes the acceptance that food doesn’t fall in to “good” and “bad” lists. It is all just food. Some will make you feel better, some will make you feel worse. Take away the emotion and the guilt from it, and you’ll be much more likely to reach for the things that make you feel better, safe in the knowledge the “yummies” are still there, still available for you, never off limits.
Sound good? I’m always happy to have a Skype chat to see if I can help you get more active and get a more happy relationship with food.