April 4, 2021

Labeling Food as Good or Bad – You Should Resist it

labeling food as good or bad - baking together

Labeling food as Good or Bad – Stop it!

We know it’s hard, but we must resist labeling food as good or bad. Here at Nutriving we believe in the power of nutrition. We have spent many years studying food and understanding its important role in chronic disease prevention. We are all about this! There is, however, another aspect of nutrition we believe is essential for fostering a good relationship with food. 

 

Food is Wonderfully Personal!

Unlike medications, we cannot treat food like a prescription. Food has ties to what defines us as people in such a beautiful way. We simply cannot pretend we can disassociate food from human emotion and human connection. Food is wonderfully personal (read more on this here!). The things you consumed in your childhood reflect what cultural influences you had, maybe what socio-economic background you come from, or what makes home feel like home.

For this reason, we do not believe that what finds its way onto your plate should be categorized as “good” or “bad”. Labeling food as good or bad implies there is a moral component to how you view food. There is no morality to be found within your dietary choices. No one is morally superior or inferior in how they approach food.

 

This is usually the point of the conversation where things become somewhat confusing for our clients. Are we saying that eating a bowl full of dark leafy greens is not healthier than eating a bowl full of cheesy fries? No, that’s not it. If we can direct our attention now to the message the mainstream media has with relation to nutrition, you may better understand our point. 

 

The Toxic World of Dieting

The world of mainstream health and wellness has sold us the fallacy that dieting is the only way to be healthy. Typically, this means following cooking practices or consuming food items that potentially exclude your cultural background–usually favoring a white-Caucasian food preference rather than other cultural culinary practices.

Dieting also means that you follow a set of food rules that override how your body might be feeling. Dieting is about labeling food as good or bad. Dieting usually has no concern over your budget, and it’s very inflexible regarding big moments in your life. Lastly, dieting usually requires overly restrictive eating patterns designed to make you feel like the smaller you get, the better.

 

We wholeheartedly disagree with the dieting perspective. We designed our nutrition counseling practice Nutriving to be the kind of nutrition counseling practice that gives you all the tools to nourish your body based on current scientific evidence. In addition to this, we want you to find freedom and curiosity in food, rather than a restrictive and militant approach to nutrition. A healthy relationship with food, at its core, is a relationship where you make your food choices lovingly to care for your body.

This means that you mostly make food decisions that help your body function to the best of its ability, which is important. This also means that you are not overly restricting yourself from the foods you love. If you love a food item, you savor the hell out of it because you know that enjoying food is part of a healthy relationship with food.

 

Stop labeling food as good or bad. Enjoy your food and leave the concept of morality out of your plate. 

 

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To be clear, we’re not talking about how to read food labels – though we love to talk about that…  For information on reading food labels, check out this helpful resource from the Food and Drug Administration.

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I am a Registered Dietitian (RD) based in Chicago, IL. I have worked in various clinical settings including dialysis, ICU, and NICU. I am bilingual and have had the pleasure to work with many Spanish/Spanglish speaking individuals.

2 Comments

  1. Mike April 4, 2021 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Delightfully refreshing advice! Might take me some time to unlearn my mostly unconscious predjudice to thinking of food as good and bad, but I’m looking forward to less guilt and more personal and enjoyable nutrition. Thanks ladies!

    • cpruz2790 April 5, 2021 at 1:55 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Mike :) We are all a work in progress, so you are not alone! Even just taking a moment to pause and bring awareness to those thoughts is a big first step on the road to less guilt and more enjoyment!

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