Good & Bad Foods
Are you trying to be ‘good’?
Many people, when trying to lose weight, often have what I call a good/bad mindset.
Good means low calories, low fat, missing out on treats and it usually starts on a Monday.
Bad equals higher fat, more calories, alcohol, takeaways and rears its ugly head at the weekend.
You spend most of your time switching between the two and not really feeling comfortable doing either.
Plus, your weight loss is anything but predictable.
So is this black and white mentality to nutrition the best approach?
And if not, is there another way to look at the way you think about what you eat that could improve your relationship with foods and help you reach our goals quicker?
Maybe there is.
Good Versus Evil
Growing up, we’re all usually told about how sweets are bad and vegetables are good for us. Let’s look at our definitiions in a little more detail:
‘Good’: Nutritious foods containing vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein, and often low in calories, fat, and refined sugar.
‘Bad’: Foods of low nutritional quality, and usually high in calories, fat, refined sugar.
If you had to pick one group to live off then it’s a bit of no-brainer that the good will triumph over evil.
But we don’t have to pick one or the other and this simplistic outlook doesn’t take into account: ·
1. How much of these ‘bad’ foods you eat
2. How often you eat them
So it’s always better to look at the bigger picture and not a few days in isolation.
Ordering a pizza once per week doesn’t make you unhealthy in the same way a chicken salad once per month does not make you healthy.
Labelling foods as ‘bad’ can also have some negative implications on the way you feel.
If you’ve had a really nutritious day of eating and then finish off the day with a few pieces of chocolate but you’ve been telling yourself chocolate is ‘bad’ for the whole of your life then there’s a good chance you’ll feel a bit disappointed.
All despite giving your body everything it needs and just a little something sweet to satisfy your taste buds. It’s that black and white thinking again.
On Diet, Off Diet
Similar to the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food viewpoint is the ‘on diet, off diet’ mentality.
On diet: Trying hard to lose weight (and being ‘good’).
Off diet: Not focusing on weight (and being ‘bad’)
Again, it’s two contrasting approaches that couldn’t be more different.
Hot-stepping between the two extremes is not the recipe for balance.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, maintain it or put it on, your diet should probably be quite similar.
The main difference will be the total number of calories:
1. Weight loss: create a modest calorie deficit.
2. Weight maintenance: eat exactly what you need to maintain your weight.
3. Weight gain: create a modest calorie surplus.
You still need protein, carbs, fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals and fluid whatever your goals are.
It’s obvious that there will be less room for ‘treats’ if you’re trying to lose weight while still maintaining a balance of the things that we need to live a healthy life.
Rather than labelling foods good or bad or seeing yourself as on a diet or off it, you may benefit from taking a less extreme approach to your nutrition. Here’s how to apply the above for a more balanced and less frantic life:
1. Look at the bigger picture and not days or events in isolation before drawing any conclusions on whether or not you're on the right track.
2. Start fuelling your body, most of the time, with things that make it run efficiently.
3. Don’t be afraid to eat things that you enjoy that may not have any direct health benefits but put a smile on your face.
4. Keep your diet fairly consistent to create a sense of balance and control
5. Banish all feelings of guilt associated with certain foods. They are not ‘bad’, they just don’t need to dominate your diet.