Is there such a thing as good food?
Is there such a thing as bad food?
Food that’s good for you, and food that’s bad for you?
Yes and no.
We have all been raised thinking there was food that’s definitely bad for you – chocolate, crisps, french fries/chips, sausages, butter, pasta, rice. The problem is that:
1) these things change from generation to generation (butter was bad, now it’s good)
2) in terms of losing weight, it’s an obsolete concept. It’s a counter-productive concept. The more you get told ‘Don’t have this’, the more you want it, the more you WILL have it no matter what, in a I-don’t-care-what-my-thighs-look-like-any-more-I-just-want-this-NOW!!!
Here’s the crunch: the more relaxed about food you are, the more likely you are to lose weight. And in order to be relaxed about food, you need to see it as just something you put in your body for nourishment and pleasure.
Not as something that pushes down your emotions (anger, sadness, shame, fed-upness, elation, you name it).
Not as something that helps you cope with stress, with the children, with how you run your day.
Not as something that takes the place of love.
Just as what your body needs in order to grow and rejuvenate its cells.
But also – and this is a very important ‘also’ – as something that brings you pleasure.
And I don’t mean the kind of guilty pleasure you feel when you go and hide with a bowl or tub of ice cream and then feel the guilt more than the pleasure.
I mean the pleasure you get from truly enjoying, mouthful after mouthful, that ice cream. Really appreciating its texture, its flavours, its nuances spoonful after spoonful (because, in case you haven’t noticed, the pleasure significantly diminishes after 3 or 4 mouthfuls).
The pleasure that will, over time, lead you to eat less because you know you can eat it whenever you want and because you know you only get the pleasure out of it – not the guilt.
So, for example, have you ever had a nice piece of dark chocolate (if that’s your thing – that’s mine) for breakfast?
Because that’s another bugbear of mine – the order in which we’re supposed to eat our food, the ‘when and how and combined with what’ we’re supposed to eat our food.
If you have ever put in front of your child her whole meal and let her eat what she wanted and how she wanted it, did you notice what she did?
She probably had a bit of her starter, a bit of her dessert, a bit of her main, back to the dessert, back to the starter etc. And, shock horror, she may not have finished her meal with her dessert – she may well have finished it with a last spoonful of her main. And…
…shock horror, there may well have been some of her dessert left over AND some of her main left over too.
THAT’S freedom from food.
We eat what we want, when we want, we stop eating when we feel satiety, and we leave the table feeling satisfied. (Obviously, I am aware that this is luxury for a lot of people in the UK and across the world, who do not have enough food and do not have a choice. This is not what this blog post is about.)
And if you just have one or two squares of chocolate for breakfast and cereal for dinner, so what?
Then once you’re free of food concerns, you can make choices for yourself – true choices. Not because so-and-so says it’s good for you (green beans), not because so-and-so says it’s bad for you (chocolate), but because you have taken the time to analyse what you actually like and dislike, and what actually makes you feel good and energetic, and what makes you feel horrible and lethargic.
We all have unique tastes and unique reactions to food.
And when dieting alters those tastes and reactions, when we don’t know who we are any more because of being told so many contradictory things and because of just being told (what to eat, how to eat, when to eat, what not to eat, how not to eat etc.), we feel lost and it feels impossible to decide for ourselves what IS good and what IS bad for us.
Yes there IS good food and there IS bad food – but only in relation to who we are and to our unique tastes and bodies, not in relation to what makes you overweight and what doesn’t.
If you really hate green beans, what is the point in eating them? If beetroot makes you feel bloated, what is the point in eating it? If, after experimenting with food on a daily basis, you realise that Dairy Milk is in fact too sweet for your taste buds and makes you feel lethargic, what is the point in eating it? If you realise that you actually do love Victoria sponge, and it makes you feel good, and you get tons of pleasure out of it, and you can stop eating whenever you have had enough, safe in the knowledge that you can have more any time you wish, what is the point in not eating it?
No food is inherently good or bad.
What’s definitely bad for you is unnecessary food, and that can be in the shape of green beans or chocolate or too much Victoria sponge.
Experimenting with food takes time and dedication, but it is necessary in order to realise, understand and accept what is good for you and what is bad for you. And your definitions will be different from most people around you.
So it also takes courage.
Are you ready?
If you would like to find out more about how you can free yourself from food and ‘food rules’, get in touch here.