Why you should stop labelling your food ‘good’ and ‘bad’
Are you labelling your food? I mean not labelling it by adding a sticker with ‘contains additives’ or ‘may cause allergic reactions’ to it, but labelling your food and what you eat as ‘good’ and ‘bad’? Or do you hold other beliefs about food like ‘gluten is the devil’, ‘sugar is evil’ and ‘one should not eat carbs’? Do you feel it helps you, like really helps you in changing your eating habits and moving towards a healthier lifestyle? If you want to lose weight, has such an approach ever helped you to lose weight and maintain a lower weight in the long-term? If you want to have more energy, has such an approach helped you to be more energetic in your day to day life? If you want to be healthier, has such an approach ever led you to actually feel healthier?
I would be really interested to know, because I genuinely think it may not be as good as an aid as you think it may be. Labels like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can be really useful and helpful, but only in the right context. Unfortunately, many people nowadays do not use it in the right context because of the emotional connotation that comes with those words ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Instead of using those labels in a factual, logical way, we are now using those words to extract what we think about ourselves based on what we eat. If we eat well, we are good; if we eat not so well, we are bad. Apart from the fact that this is black/white thinking which is problematic in itself, labelling food ‘good’ or ‘bad’ means we give food emotional power over us.
Now, if you think about it, food is just food. There is no good or bad food (unless you refer to taste), only nutrient rich or nutrient poor food. In its most basic, food is nourishment for our physical body and this physical body then supports our emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Hence, food is not a direct nourishment for our emotional, mental or spiritual body. It really is just fuel. So unless you start using the labels ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in a purely factual, guiding way to make informed decisions on how to fuel your body, the approach of labelling your food will completely backfire. This is because you have expectations towards food that it can just not fulfil or only fulfil you in the short-term.
Labelling food ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (or any other label really) sets you up for a perpetual cycle of anxiety. You start desiring what you cannot have and try to resist the desire feeling bad for desiring it in the first place. This then brings on guilt and shame, particularly once you feel your willpower is letting you down and you are having forbidden foods.
Hence, instead of labelling your foods good and bad and giving it power over you, why don’t you start checking in with your body after you eat to see how you feel? How does the food make you feel? Do you feel energetic, light, satisfied, fulfilled or do you feel sluggish, tired, mentally foggy, unsatisfied and unfulfilled? I guarantee you that once you start becoming a lot more attuned to your body, you will automatically notice that your body starts guiding you directly towards those foods that it needs to thrive and support you without feeling you are depriving yourself or restricting yourself. What have you got to lose?
Thank you Bettina Schelkle for this wonderful article about labelling your food. She is absolutely right! Forget everything you have heard or read about good or bad foods. Focus on how you feel instead. This is so much more powerful!
Happy feeling 🙂