In the current and ever-growing situation of nutritional terrorism, it seems like second nature to label foods as good or bad, right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy — even fattening or slimming.
There are few people who do not feel guilty or embarrassed about eating chocolate, ice cream, and, or a slice of birthday cake — especially if it’s outside of the “socially acceptable” normal contexts, such as holidays, hot days, or birthday parties.
I spent most of my life in the willpower trap — believing that all I needed to lose weight was to eat less of the forbidden “bad foods” I loved so much. I’ll explain to you why you should abandon that mentality if you want to find peace with food and your body.
The first thing to consider is that my list of forbidden foods increased with every diet I tried. Quickly counting — if I tried at least two diets yearly and spent at least a decade on diets, you can imagine the length of my forbidden foods list!
For each diet, there was a list of different rules I prescribed myself — many of them even contradictory. At one point, eating felt like a real juggle. Below you’ll find my list:
I should not eat gluten
Sugar? No way
Alcohol only on weekends
Sweets? No way
Beef? Only without fat
So can I eat bread now? It better be brown bread then
Sweeteners aren’t safe anymore? Which sugar will be the better option?
What if wine is good for the heart, should I drink it daily?
White cheese? Yellow cheese?
Natural yogurt? Skimmed?
Is milk poison?
What about the egg yolk?
Has anyone decided whether it’s good or bad? As you can see, eating was really overwhelming.
I had so many rules when eating or deciding what to eat, that it was impossible to feel as if I was doing a good job. I felt so pressured that, invariably, I ended up mocking or ignoring my rules … once, twice, three times … until I lost everything I had conquered. And to me, that was a crime.
And that leads me to the first big pitfall of dividing food between good or bad.
The morality of this judgment extends to our character
It works as simple as this.
Chocolate is bad. I behaved badly because I ate chocolate.
Salad is good. I behaved well because I had a salad.
What you eat may be more or less nutritious and work better or worse for your goals, but it definitely does not reflect your character.
So here you have a gentle reminder:
Happy man when enjoying burger and a coke
Eating a burger and drinking soda does not make you a bad person. Nor does it mean that you are not happy.
You’re not a better person either because you refrain from eating pizza.
This perception of “good food = good person” only generates anguish and anxiety. Giving in to the idea of “bad food” leads to a sense of disappointment and a relentless will to repair the damage — aka, starting a super strong restriction tomorrow.
BUT… only tomorrow.
Dividing food into “good or bad” leads us to eat more of both
After all, if it is “good”, it’s harmless, no matter the amount.
However, if it is “bad”, you believe that the minimum amount will be fattening — and you get what I call the “since I ate” mentality.
Since I ate chocolate — and chocolate is bad and forbidden — I’d better have some ice cream, make some popcorn, order a pizza later, and eat more ice cream for dessert.
One “bad food” does not mean your day has been ruined. Let the next dish help set you back on the right path!
Instead of thinking about whether food is good or bad, think
about what your body needs now. Nourishing your body well does not mean simply
What do you really want to eat?
What will satisfy you?
What will make you feel good?
What energizes you and makes you feel better?
Pay attention to what your body tells you. It knows exactly what to do.