We often find when chatting with friends & family that so many of the foods we really love to eat are labelled as ‘bad’ foods. It seems unfair right? Why do all the ‘bad’ foods taste so good? We don’t know about you, but for us, when we eat those foods it can create a real sense of guilt and internal conflict. These food labels generally judge foods based purely on the nutrients they provide and suggest we cut out the ‘bad’ and inject the ‘good’. We believe this is a pretty damn simplistic way of viewing food and a big miss, without consideration of all the wonderful things that food provides beyond nutrients.
Let’s explore a common scenario that often eventuates when in the land of food labels:
- Monday: start health kick, clean fridge out of ‘bad’ foods and fill fridge with ‘good’ foods, feels empowered!
- Tuesday: only ate ‘good’ foods, feelin’ fine.
- Wednesday: someone brings ‘bad’ food to work and 1 square is consumed at 3pm, feeling the guilt creep in.
- Thursday: all day thinking about ‘bad’ food, but come home late from work, order UberEats from the ‘good food’ section to cancel yesterdays ‘bad’.
- Friday: eating all the ‘bad’ burgers and beers with mates at pub, feeling terribly guilty and a lacking self-control for ‘falling off the bandwagon’. (Rinse and repeat on Monday).
What a rollercoaster of emotion, and there is scientific reason for this! When we cut out foods (these labelled as ‘bad’) or go into a state of calorie deficit, our bodies actually thinks we’re starving. It doesn’t know the difference between you intentionally restricting food/calories or not! We also have a deep physiological response to fixate on food when it’s cut from our lives. Thanks to our hunter-gatherer ancestors; it was an evolutionary benefit to fixate on food ALL THE DAMN TIME, because food was super scarce, we didn’t know when we were going to get our next meal!! So they were constantly hungry and constantly searching for food!
Nowadays, when we cut food and calories from our diets, our bodies essentially think we’re starving ourselves, and this prompts us to search for food! It’s NATURAL! We shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed! So when we ‘can’t stick on the band wagon’ we’re not ‘caving’ or ‘lacking self-control’, we’re actually listening to our innate physiological response to want to eat!
When people describe the WIRL Way back to us sometimes, they often refer to us as “the dietitians that tell you you can eat whatever you want” and people often say to us, “yeah right, you don’t really mean that” but we actually do. What we don’t mean is just eat all of the chocolate in the world everyday, rather encourage people to let go of this all or nothing thinking, this ‘good’ and ‘bad’ thinking, this “if I don’t eat the most nutritious meals every meal I’m bad” thinking. It is literally working against us.
How can we instead think about all food on a level playing field of permission to eat, no moral stance of good or bad, just food. Obviously not all food has the same type or level of nutrients but this doesn’t make a food good or bad, just different. IF we eat something we once deemed ‘bad’, how can we move on from this knowing it was simply just an act of eating a food. It’s a nice place to begin.
We talk more about this concept and how to build a healthy meal that can still include foods we love to eat over on our WIRL Tracker.
Your WIRLy friends,
Alicia & Bree