Right then, lets talk about ‘Demonising food’…
- Low carb
- Low fat
- Cabbage soup
- Slim fast
These are just some of the terms phrases that come to mind when I think about the modern-day diet culture, now I’m not saying that “diets” are new, low fat for example was around in the 80s, but I’m sure we can all agree that it’s getting out of hand?
I put a post on my Instagram page this week that received a great response, it said “here’s an idea, why don’t you stop dieting, and just eat 3 square meals!? How radical”. The idea that we can eat 3 meals (and maybe a snack or 2) containing all the nutrients we need, that we don’t have to starve ourselves and only eat in a 4-hour window, that we can eat after 7 pm, that we can eat carbohydrates or fat or sugar (the list goes on!). This gets me to the reason for this – my first blog! Demonising food.
My 9-year-old daughter told me recently that she’s not allowed chocolate in her packed lunch. When I asked her why she said because the school say it’s “not healthy”. I’ve taught my daughter to know better than to categorise food as “healthy” or “unhealthy”, but we still had a discussion about it, which went something like this…..
Me: “So Trixie is broccoli healthy?”
Trixie: “yes mummy”
Me: “but if we ate a diet predominantly containing broccoli would that be healthy?”
Trixie: “well no mummy because you’d be missing out on other important food groups” (see I’ve taught her well!)
Me: “so, if we ate a diet of predominantly chocolate would that be healthy?”
You can see where I was going with this. My point is, that by labelling food as “healthy” or “unhealthy” we are demonising certain foods. In fact, many “diets” out there don’t just demonise certain foods, they cut entire food groups, ketogenic for example where carbohydrates are cut out.
Now, I don’t know about you but as soon as someone tells me I can’t have it I want it even more! By demonising whole food groups, categorising them as healthy and unhealthy it makes it an issue, “oh I can’t eat that, it’s not in my diet” or even worse, “I can’t eat that because it’s bad for me”. Get me started on attaching morality to food and we’ll be here all day (I’ll save that for the next blog).
What I’m trying to say is that by not having something that we would actually really like to eat it becomes this “forbidden fruit”, something we could even become obsessed over, consumed with and even dream about eating. Very few people can sustain this behaviour, the much more likely occurrence is that we deny ourselves something for so long that we eventually give in and often binge on it, taking away the pleasure of actually enjoying it.
This takes me back to my original idea, isn’t it best to allow ourselves these foods, every once in a while, or in moderation and actually enjoy eating them? For example – chocolate, I know this is a food that many deny themselves when they’re trying to lose weight. I personally eat chocolate every day (a nutritionist eating chocolate every day? I hear you say!), I will have a couple of squares or a small bar which stops me from wanting to eat a whole family-size bar to myself on a Sunday night.
Everybody is different in their relationships with food, but I can pretty much guarantee that we all have some foods that we love to eat and find it very difficult to avoid fully. My answer to this would be, don’t. Give yourself permission to eat anything you want, but just keep in mind your goals. If, for example, you want to lose half a stone next month before your trip to Ibiza with the girls then maybe a box of Krispy Cremes every day isn’t going to be conducive to that goal. That doesn’t mean you’re “not allowed” them or that they are “bad” foods you’re just choosing not to eat that entire box because you might not fit into that teeny weeny bikini you’ve treated yourself to.
Just be mindful of your reasons for eating or not eating something.
It’s your choice!