It’s seductive to think about foods as “good foods” and “bad foods.” With good foods being the bucket of foods everyone should always choose and bad foods being the bucket of foods to stay away from. This creates a lot of nutritional confusion, as foods can be compared based on infinite factors – calories, color, plant content, nutrients, phytonutrients, taste, looks, temperature, texture, or nostalgia. Not everything works for every body. This makes it difficult to allow specific to only fall into two categories.
Let’s first say that there are some foods that do fall into these categories:
- “Good Foods” for most people would be considered all vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds in appropriate portion sizes, and adequate water consumption
- “Bad Foods” are anything fried including French fries, fried chicken, shrimp, fish, chips, and sodas – both regularly sweetened and diet sodas
However, when working to improve your eating patterns, the idea of putting foods into a bucket of “good” or “bad” foods makes it difficult to discern the multitude of foods that lie in between. And not everyone has the same nutritional needs which further causes confusion.
Additionally, this way of thinking leads to a mindset that you are good or bad, depending on what foods you choose.
rather than good foods and bad foods, remember that most foods live on a spectrum of how they support your goal
When making food choices, rather than consider food as good or bad, ask yourself, “will this help me achieve my goal?” and “is this the best option for me at this time?” You may recognize that there is a large grey area that doesn’t necessarily fit the good and bad model.
As an example: Is yogurt a good food or bad food?
There is a large variety of yogurt products that are commercially available. Traditional yogurt is made from milk. Some yogurts are high in protein and low in sugar, some are high in protein and high in sugar, some are low in protein and high in sugar. There is a large spectrum of what’s available, this it’s hard to say that yogurt is good or bad.
If your goal is to reduce inflammation, and you know that dairy products cause inflammation for you, none of the yogurt varieties are good choices because they do not support your goal of decreasing inflammation.
If your goal is to balance blood sugar, then the high protein, low sugar yogurt may be a good fit because it can help you to reach your goal.
However, if you are in a situation where the only food available is yogurt or fried chicken and French fries, then yogurt may be a better choice in both cases.
The bottom line is you need to know what you are working toward, and evaluate the benefit of food based on your own needs.
If you need help understanding where to start, I’m here to help.