- Kelly Neilson, MDA, RD, LD
Are there foods I shouldn't eat?
As a Registered Dietitian, I can comfortably and confidently declare: YOU CAN EAT ALL FOODS.
“Whaaat? What about carbs and chocolate and bacon and ice cream and bananas and Oreos?”
Yes, all foods can and should fit into a healthy diet and here’s why: There are no “good” foods and “bad” foods. Gasp! I know, this goes against everything you have heard about and learned about food. The dieting/health/fitness world would like you to believe that there are in fact bad foods that you should never eat because they will destroy your waistline/appetite/hair/toned muscles/ability to hold a steady relationship/etc.
The problem is that when food is placed in this “forbidden” category, it becomes so much more alluring. Have you ever created a food rule for yourself like, “I will not eat chocolate”, only to discover that this is short-lived and you eventually end up eating chocolate? What happened? When we are told we can’t have something, we feel deprived and can only think about that thing. If someone left you in an empty room and said, “You can do whatever you want, but don’t look in this drawer”, what would you want to do? Look in the drawer. If I told you don’t think about the color blue—you can’t help it, you’re already thinking about it!
When you place a food in a “bad” category, that food immediately has power. You can probably be okay to turn it down the first several times, giving yourself pep talks on having “self-control” or “will power”. You can try denying that you are thinking about it, but in the end you know you really want it. What happens when you are at a party or at a restaurant celebrating something and you say “Ok, I’m going to have chocolate, but just today.”? You most likely will overdo it, and make yourself sick because you know this is your only day to eat chocolate. Then come the feelings of guilt and remorse, and you say to yourself “See, I can’t be trusted with chocolate”. Can you see how this is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and a trap you set up for yourself? It wasn't the chocolate that made you overeat, it was your built-up feelings of deprivation.
So what’s the answer? Are you ready for the earth-shattering response? Here it is–Make Peace with Food. That’s it! Call a truce and wave the white flag. Free yourself from believing that there are good and bad foods. One food does not have the power to make you skinny or make you fat or destroy your health. Now, I am not disregarding the fact that different foods have different nutrients. I am well aware of the fact that an apple has different nutrients than a chocolate chip cookie. I am not stating that all foods are nutritionally equal, but I am saying that all foods are all morally equal. This means that if you have a slice of cheesecake you are not a bad person and you don’t need to go on a cleanse the next day to “clear it out of your system”. (Don’t even get me started on cleanses…we’ll save that discussion for another day ;))
The bottom line is that in order to have a truly healthy and enjoyable relationship with food, you need to start breaking your old food rules and being okay with eating all kinds of food. If this is a new concept for you, you may be having some doubts and fears. You may be thinking that you can’t do this. In my future posts, I will be discussing many of your fears and how you can truly make peace with food. Until then, Ciao!