“There are no bad foods”: Fact or Myth?
We see this comment in both nutrition and exercise, and I love the debate in both. I see it most often on twitter, and just sit back, put my feet up, and watch the comments roll in. What are my thoughts? Is it true? How do I approach this topic with my kids? Let’s get into it:
I believe the real debate is in our definition of the word “bad”, and once we’ve established something is bad, what do we do? This isn’t a good vs. evil debate, and I’m not sure who made it that. It’s a “good for us or bad for us” debate. There is no food that reserves our seat in heaven or hell, but there are foods that if we eat to much of them will send us to either destination faster. Please read the rest of this from the correct perspective:
I’ve talked previously in this blog about extremism in food. For example, high sodium intake was correlated with high blood pressure and heart disease. So, many people went from high sodium intake to zero. If it’s not good at the highest volumes, then we shouldn’t have it in any amount, right?
Nope. Not right. Especially not in that example. Sodium is a necessary micronutrient for survival. And there are different types, as well as different ways it is manufactured and distributed. We need the right kinds of sodium in the right ratios. Too much, not good. Too little, not good. Wrong kind? Never good, and this is where this gets fun.
What about foods that provide absolutely no nutritional value, and are in fact acutely inflammatory? Are those foods “bad”?
My answer: YES. They are bad. Morally bad? Of course not. Health bad? Yep. Does this mean I should not eat them? Again, NO. We have become so sensitive to any negative connotation of anything. In my opinion, it’s ok to say “yes, this food is bad for you, and it’s ok to eat it anyway”. In the right amounts and as part of a complete nutrition plan that is a majority nutrient dense.
It was important to me that my kids understood this, and at a very young age they already do. They eat all the fun foods. Every one. Ice cream and pizza and fries. When we go out to eat they order whatever they want to off the menu. And they eat all these things without any guilt. When they say “that food isn’t healthy”, they aren’t demonizing it. There isn’t any emotion behind it at all. They just understand that particular food isn’t the best for them and when they look at their plates they know the foods they should prioritize first. Dad gave us grass fed ground beef, broccoli, and mac and cheese, he would prefer I eat my properly portioned protein and veggie before asking for seconds of the mac and cheese. And because I serve these types of foods consistently, they 100% enjoy them anyway.
So, are there bad foods? Of course there are. There are foods that, at the wrong ratio, will not only decrease our longevity but can also make us lethargic and less productive. Eat those foods, just be methodical with timing, amount, and frequency. Remove the emotion and guilt. Don’t take the fun out of fun foods! Just don’t take the fun out of life by consuming certain foods at a rate that also makes you feel like crap mentally and in poor health physically.
The bigger issue is still extremism itself. The first “There are no bad foods” comment probably had the exact message that I’m stating here, but we take these statements and use them as justifications to eat whatever we want at any volume. Or, we demonize a food and say we can’t have ANY of it EVER. Both thoughts are wrong, and harmful.
Be aware, understand what we consume has an affect on our body, and eat appropriately to fulfill the goals you want to achieve, whatever they might be.
I hope everyone has a great weekend!