The wish to organize and divide our surroundings into different categories, due to its characteristics, either observed or assumed patterns and qualities, is a really real thing. It makes it easier for us as human beings to create order and to understand life. However, it isn’t always serving us in terms of finding new solutions, being creative, allowing possible deviations and to see individual variety and differences.
Even when it comes to food, we try to simplify and organize the clutter of different advices and opinions, by labeling the food and putting it into boxes. By labeling the food and giving it names, such as “good” versus “bad” foods, we believe it will make it easier for us. Perhaps, we believe labeling food will help us to reach our weight-loss/weight-gain goal, or improve our relationship with food.
But what is “good food”, and what is “bad food”?
For my friend, who is lactose intolerant, milk and cow cheese, are “bad foods”. On the other hand, for my brother, who has a peanut allergy, peanuts would be considered as “bad food”. For me, this is just food I like, food that I truly enjoy and food that is a natural part of my diet. However, if I, just as my brother, would give peanut the label; “bad food”, what would the outcomes of that be?
When putting food into certain boxes such as “bad food”, my brain is going to go “No” – as a big, red, flashing stop sign in my head. I’ll start avoiding it, and in order to confirm the meaning of that box to me, I’ll probably give it certain qualities in order to endorse my choice of not eating that “bad food”. Perhaps I’ll try to find verifications from my friends, social media, newspapers or what scientific studies have showed, which confirms the meaning of that box and my own beliefs.
This way of thinking and mindset, as you probably have noticed, can have a negative impact on our life. If we get too obsessed focusing on what box a certain food belongs to , we loose our intuition and consciousness when it comes to food, we let our restrictions determine our choices of food. In the long run, this leads to that we stop allowing ourselves to have these “bad foods”. Even if we are just talking about small amounts of it, such as, a piece of chocolate, or a handful nuts. Or whatever food that we have decided belongs to the box of “bad food”, because we once had decided to put this box in the corner, or even as far away as on our attic, in order to decrease the distractions and temptation that its presence causes us.
What can I do instead?
First of all, food is food. They all have different qualities and should all be consumed in moderation. Of course, if you are sensitive or have an allergy to a certain food, you better avoid it. But let’s say you’ve made a choice of not eating a certain food, sugar for example, and when you allow yourself to have it, you can’t eat it in moderation. You end up finishing an entire bag of candy, or sneaking into the kitchen during the night to finish a piece of cake or whatever candy bars you can find in your children’s drawer. This might be a sign of that this way of labeling food doesn’t serve you.
Frankly, letting the boxes determine your life is not the most advantageous way to create a healthy relationship with food; initially relationship to yourself. Instead, try to see food as something that is supposed to be enjoyed, satisfying, nourishing and a natural part of your life.
The amount doesn’t determines the level of satisfaction. Neither is one simple serving of “bad food”, going to cause you failure or making you fall of the wagon. Food is food, allow yourself to look at food objectively, without having to judge and label in different boxes.