Many people often ask me, ‘which foods are good and which foods are bad’ but this isn’t a question that can be answered with a list of ticks and crosses. This is a simplistic view that doesn’t take into account any other factors of a person’s normal every day eating pattern. For example, chocolate is a food which does contain fat and sugar. To the person who eats a couple or so squares of chocolate once or twice a week and eats lots of very nutritious foods with very little fat or sugar, this is not a bad food. On the other hand, to the person who eats two rows of chocolate every night of the week, as well as chocolate milk for lunch and a cheeseburger for afternoon tea, then chocolate is not a healthy food for them.
You see, we need to move away from labelling ‘good and bad’ foods and start looking at how often and in what quantities we are eating those foods to determine whether it is something that should or shouldn’t be eaten.
At the same time, there are people who eat exceptionally healthy food and unfortunately feel guilty when having a slice of chocolate cake once in a blue moon. This really does make me sad as I don’t feel that guilt and negative emotion should ever be associated with food. It’s wonderful to eat healthily, but it’s not healthy to feel guilty over a small thing like a rare treat. The world is already stressful enough. It’s important for our psychological health to gain ‘pleasure’ from foods and experience the positive social aspect of eating as well such as dining with friends and family.
It is when we start feeling guilty about food, and categorising foods as simply eaither ‘good’ and ‘bad’ that an unbalanced relationship can develop with food. This can lead us to actually OVER indulge. Have you ever had that thought where you crave a Tim Tam while watching the TV. You sit there and argue with your own voice within, transitioning back and forth from ‘No don’t eat it’ to ‘Oh one little tim tam won’t hurt’ only to give in thinking ‘Oh well, I’ve eaten really badly for the past week, I’ll start a diet on Monday’. You then eat 5 more of those Tim Tams. Slowly the guilt creeps up and you feel ‘naughty’ for eating that ‘bad’ food. Meanwhile, you are still trying to focus on your tv show, help the kids with the homework, prepare for the day at work ahead and try to have a relax….all whilst listening to the inner battles you are having over a ‘bad’ food. From experience, THIS sort of mental anguish and yoyo back and forth behaviour takes far more self control for the 60 mins you argue with yourself over trying not to eat a tim tam, than the self control it takes to eat a healthy nutritious diet throughout the day.
I am not saying we should all eat sweets and high fat foods everyday. Rather, I am saying that by consciously making an effort to eat a healthy nutritious diet regularly by including foods such as wholefoods, lean meats, nuts, legumes and pulses, fish, dairy (if tolerant), fruit and vegetables, then we can allow ourselves a little treat every now and again. Eating treats mindfully and savouring every moment will let our brain register we’ve had a treat. How often have you sat down to a piece of cake or a biscuit while checking facebook only to forget that you had the treat 10 mins later because you weren’t even concentrating on eating it?
So eat treats every so often without guilt and shame. It’s good for the mind, good for the soul, and it may just help us to fit into those jeans too!
Stay happy and healthy….NG x