Saturday, December 10, 2011
We are programmed to crave and enjoy carbs and fats, the very things that make us fat. It makes sense, evolutionarily, that our palates are tuned for the sources of nutrition that most effectively keep us alive when food could be scarce. It's our very abundance that's killing us.
In all of my weight-loss success and failure, what's been emotionally hardest is the guilt when I don't succeed and the frustration over labeling certain foods "bad." At the moment, I'm not interested in writing a woe-is-me post over weight-loss frustration. Instead I'd like to re-examine what it means for a food to be bad.
In weight loss circles, a food is bad if it has a high calorie to volume ratio. A small portion of something with a lot of calories makes it bad, be it sugar and other dreaded carbs or fats. I know this is a gross simplification, but I have come to believe thinking of foods as "bad" is also a gross simplification.
Yes, there are some things we just really shouldn't eat. Cheetos, delicious though they may be, have a lengthy ingredient list full of more chemicals than a cheese-ish snack really should have. But what about bread? Is that bad? Flour, water, yeast, salt, a smidge of sugar.
For some people, sure. Everyone's body is different. But I'm coming to realize that when I call a food "bad" I give it, and my appetite, more power over me. It's more likely to become a forbidden fruit or a vehicle for self-disgust should I eat it, than if I simply remember that it's a food I am healthier without. The food by itself is neither good nor bad, it's my reaction to it that makes it that way.
Instead of labeling foods good or bad, I need to balance my thinking. I need to remember that any food, made with real ingredients and a minimal amount of processing, is simply food. It's what I do with it that makes it more or less wholesome for me. By choosing to not think of food as good or bad, but as healthy or less healthy, dietary modification becomes less restrictive and more about choosing to live bigger.
(c) 2011 Laura S. Packer