The good food bad food argument is a heated one. I think the whole fuss stems from the hope that if you just have a list of foods to avoid, you can be blessed with a healthy weight and a long life. Experts agree, though, there are no bad foods.
There is not a single food on earth that one could argue would absolutely cause weight gain and bad health. People will say, "well, if you ate it all of the time...." There is no food you could eat or would want to eat all of the time. But any food could easily be enjoyed on a daily basis.
All foods are just some combination of protein , fats , and/or carbohydrates . These are called 'macronutrients', meaning we need them in large quantities. Vitamins and minerals are called 'micronutrients', meaning we need them in small quantities. Those little guys get all the glory from the healthy eating gurus, but it is very easy to meet your requirements of these. Conversely, I have seen many clients who were not meeting their needs for macronutrients, which greatly impacted their feelings of being 'out of control' with food.
There is no better way to stop binges and overeating than legalizing food. People really resist this. They think they need to keep certain foods off limits so they won't overeat. But they will be the first to admit this is not working. Having guilt about food absolutely distorts your relationship with food . This makes you are eating out of control .
People will argue that among the macronutrients there are better choices. There are good carbs and bad carbs . There are good fats and bad fats . This is like saying there is good water and bad water. Biochemically all nutrients breakdown in our bodies and look the same. They all go to perform the same functions.
Good Carbs and Bad Carbs
The whole theory behind good carbs and bad carbs is based on absorption rate. Absorption rate affects insulin release...all very exciting stuff. The theory sounds solid and convincing, until you translate it to real life.
Carbohydrates digest quickly. When eaten by themselves, you may get a rapid increase in blood sugar and a rapid increase in insulin. Then you get a rapid drop and feel hungry very soon after you've eaten. This is most important to note at snacks, as people often do chose just crackers or fruit, etc.
But how often do you eat just a piece of bread? Or just a plate of pasta? You consume almost every food in combination with other nutrients. Protein and fats slow the absorption rate of carbohydrates. So if you will ensure you combine carbohydrates with either protein or fat (or both), which you normally do anyway, you do not need to worry about the moral value of any given carb.
Good Fats and Bad Fats
Good fats and bad fats are also the frequent victims of the food police. Well, with a name like that, it's no wonder! The fat with the worst reputation of all is the dreaded... saturated fat .
After all these years of hating on saturated fat, research is telling us maybe it is not so evil. In fact, in many studies over the past decade, researchers are showing no link between saturated fat intake and cardiac risk. In a literature review of dozens of historical studies on saturated fat, the finding is the same.
In fact, in some instances there is a protective benefit!
Fats perform important functions in the body. From hormones to soft skin, all fats provide a benefit. In my work with clients, fats may also be the most important factor in not feeling out of control with food. So I say, all fats are good fats!
On that note: all foods are good foods!
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Siri-Tarino PW, et al. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease Am J Clin Nutr. January 2010Mente A, et al. A Systematic Review of the Evidence Supporting a Causal Link Between Dietary Factors and Coronary Heart Disease. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(7):659-669.
Contact us with any questions about eating and behavioral health issues. You or someone you know may be in need of outpatient or residential eating disorder treatment.
Jennifer Pereira LPC, RD - Therapist & Dietitian
1. Do you worry that you have lost control over how much you eat?
2. Do you make yourself sick (or use laxatives/exercise) if you feel uncomfortably full?
3. Do you currently suffer with or suffered in the past with eating issues?
4. Do you ever eat in secret?
5. Does your weight affect how you feel about yourself?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you are not satisfied with your current eating patterns, contact us for more information.