15 May 2020
But Aren’t Carbs Bad for me?
15 May 2020
Today I want to dive into the concept of “Bad” vs. “Good” foods in a bit more detail.
So many times when I start working with someone I hear one of these phrases.
- Aren’t carbs bad for me?
- Oh that’s so high in fat, that’s not good is it?
- I was really bad last night and I ate bread with my dinner
- I’ve been really good all week – just salads for me!
All of these sentences set up our relationship with food to be ripe for judgement. Food is not meant to be good or bad – it’s just food! It’s how we relate to food that can be problematic or supportive, but the food itself, is just a collection of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats meant to give us energy (calories) so that we can continue to live a healthy life. No angels or devils on your shoulder…. No good or bad.
Now I’m not saying that this means it doesn’t matter what we eat. The quality of the food we eat is instrumental in providing us with the foundations for health. What I am saying is placing the label of good or bad on a food sets us up to have a challenging relationship with food and from that a challenging relationship with ourselves.
If you have been alive for several decades you will have noticed that diet trends seem to cycle between No Fat…..all the carbs and No Carbs…..all the fat. How could fat “bad” in the 80s and “good” in 2019? And why were carbs “good” in the 80s but “evil” in 2019? In reality we need all three macronutrients (carbs, fat, and protein) to maintain good health – that’s the very definition of a macronutrient – a chemical element or substance that is essential in relatively large amounts to the growth and health of a living organism.
We need all of the macronutrients to maintain our health! Any diet that significantly limits or eliminates one of these categories cannot set you up for long term health, and cannot be a lifestyle. And on top of it, any severe restriction of these will end up creating this good/bad relationship with food that often times leads to periods of restriction then finally when you do “give up and eat the bread” you feel like a failure. Which creates this cycle of restrict and feel good…start to crave the “bad food”….eat the “bad food”, feel like a failure…repeat. This is not a cycle that sets you up for a successful relationship with food and your body.
Whenever I look at a fad diet to determine whether it will be helpful I ask myself this. Does it unrealistically focus on one or two foods to the exclusion and vilification of other types of foods, or an over reliance on fake “foods” such as shakes or bars? Or does it promote a balanced diet that focuses on whole foods?
Whole foods win hands down! Food is meant to be enjoyed in season, in healthful portions and with a variety of all foods! My weight release journey of 60lb included me eating dark chocolate every day, (in a reasonable portion size and with full presence, but more on that another day!)
We need all three of the macronutrients.
- Protein helps us build muscle, maintain our bones, have healthy skin, make enzymes and hormones!
- Healthy fats help us feel full, feed our brains, absorb vitamins, feel energized, support immune function and help regulate inflammation and hormones
- Carbohydrates give us energy and (especially when choosing fruits, veggies and whole grains) provide us vitamins and minerals and fiber so that all the systems in our body have the energy they need and the ability to eliminate waste efficiently.
The problem isn’t in the food! The problem is for a whole variety of reasons we have forgotten how to listen to what our body is asking for. For example one of the most common mistaken cues that we fall for is misreading the cue for thirst as hunger. But we often also will crave highly processed high sugar high fat foods when we are tired or stressed because we know we will get a boost of energy and dopamine (which is our feel good hormone) and then we will be able to get back to work. When instead what our body really is looking for might be a piece of fruit, a good source of fat and most likely a nap!
This art of intuitive eating is something that as a culture we have largely lost. So don’t feel bad if you don’t know how to do it! That’s where working with a nutritionist comes in. We work together to develop a relationship with food again, we start to look at what your body is asking for, we look at the right mix of carbohydrates, fats and proteins for you. We base your plan on YOU….not for what worked for Sally in the office next door who lived on protein shakes and now has “the perfect body”, or Uncle Joe who ate nothing but bananas for two weeks and is “completely ripped”. We look at what your life looks like, are you under a lot of stress, do you have an underlying health concern that means you need more of one type of food than another, do you have food sensitivities, where are you in your lifecycle, these are just a few of the factors we need to consider when thinking about what foods will work best for you.
Nutrition is so individualistic, and the real work to be done is to recreate a way of eating that works for you! This can feel really overwhelming if you are trying to do all the research yourself. Let me help! Together we can stop the judgement of yourself and food. Together we can help you and food work together to keep you fueled to do more of what you love and we can kick the good/bad labels to the curb!
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