Good vs Bad Food: How Labelling Food is Causing Unhealthy Habits

Good vs Bad Food: How Labelling Food is Causing Unhealthy Habits

It’s hard to ignore the messages that are bombarding us daily from the diet industry and the media.

Negative messages regarding food can infiltrate magazines, newspapers, news segments and your thoughts about food.

Black and white

Assigning labels to foods, such as “good/bad” and “allowed/not allowed” creates a black and white mentality which can lead to overeating and binge eating which in turn triggers the blame-shame cycle that most chronic dieters engage in.

In addition to the emotional turmoil caused by labelling foods in this way, it can also affect your physical health as you potentially eliminate major food groups.

Here are 3 common side effects caused by labeling food as good or bad:

1) Food Fear

Most diets lead you to believe that potato chips and ice cream are “bad” foods and fruits and vegetables as “good” food. When it comes to dieting, there is rarely an in-between.

In an effort to achieve the weight loss that the diet promises, you will avoid these bad foods at all costs.

Diets are designed to instil a small air of fear that by consuming these “bad” foods you will gain weight and by eliminating these foods from your life you will lose weight.

You then become afraid of food, fearing the effects of what one spoonful of ice cream will cause, afraid of going to the party due to a lack of self-trust around food, and worse yet sitting in social isolation to avoid dealing with the food.

2) Guilty feelings after eating

What happens when the dieting messages force you to give up foods that you love?

You crave them even more. Your cravings become more and more powerful the more you choose to ignore them.

Diets elicit guilt.

When you eat these so-called “bad” foods, your brain sees it as failure. Guilt sets in and you shame yourself for blowing your diet.

The guilt, shame and embarrassment often becomes too hard to bear and this might ultimately lead to the most severe form of emotional eating… sedation, numbing and punishment.

Good vs Bad Food: How Labelling Food is Causing Unhealthy Habits3) Nutrient deficiencies

Labeling foods as “good/bad” can also cause nutrient deficiencies.

You have probably seen and maybe even tried several diets that promote the elimination of entire food groups such as grains, or dairy.

By avoiding a major food group in its entirety, you are not getting all the nutrients you need for good health and optimal nutrition.

There’s a reason why registered dietitians like myself encourage our clients to eat a well-balanced meal plan.

Excluding important foods and/or food groups can deplete your nutrient stores, slow down your metabolism, impair your sleep, and negatively impact every organ in your body.

What foods drain you? What foods give you energy?

Instead of focusing on what other people or diets tell you, focus on how your body feels.

Think about your body as a machine. If it is properly fueled, it will run smoothly for years to come. The goal is to put yourself in a position to feel and look good, both physically and mentally.

Respect your body by giving it what it needs as well as what you love and you will find peace with food for a lifetime.

Connect with Expert Bonnie Giller