When we label foods as “good”or “bad”, we often feel that WE are bad if we eat the “bad” foods, and vice versa. As soon as we label foods as such, we often restrict or deprive ourselves from any “bad” foods. Especially if we are trying to lose weight. Our society plays a huge role in labelling foods. What we’ve learned from our society, marketing, our well- meaning parents etc. is that foods that are high in fat or sugar are “bad” and that fruits and veggies, lean meats and low fat dairy products are “good”.
Some foods may be healthier than others, there is no doubt about it. But there are no “good” or “bad” foods. The biggest problem with food labelling is that we almost always grow up somewhat deprived of the “bad” foods and trying our darndest to eat more of the “good” foods. The extent of this varies from person to person, but what I see is that MOST people struggle with it. When you deprive or restrict yourself of something, your body instinctually wants more of it. Note: this is not because of a lack of willpower or that you’re weak…
Some experts refer to this phenomenon as the “Last Supper Mentality”. You may think “I’ve gotta get it in while I can, because tomorrow I’m back on a diet!”
Deprivation and restriction is the cornerstones of the diet industry. No matter what diet you’re on, there is almost ALWAYS some form of deprivation or restriction. It may be calories or even whole foods groups. This is why diets don’t work long term. You have to KEEP going back to the diet plan or move on to the next diet because you’re always set up for failure. We don’t do well with deprivation or restriction- we rebel and overeat most of the time.
To be clear, you are not a failure if you cannot follow a restrictive diet plan. In fact, in my opinion, it’s almost physically, mentally and emotionally impossible to succeed. No wonder the diet industry is a billion dollar industry!
It’s important to recognize that certain foods are healthier than others (and it’s important to eat a balanced healthy diet most of the time), but banning less-than-healthy foods is NOT the answer. It’s not until you stop labelling foods as “good” or “bad” and allow yourself to enjoy a variety of foods that you love without guilt, that you stop feeling deprived, start enjoying food again and start eating intuitively and mindfully.
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Did you know that we offer personalized nutrition counselling for kids and families? If this is something you’d like to learn more about, please visit The Centre for Family Nutrition.