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Why the way we think about food matters

Language is a powerful, evocative tool and labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ can make us feel conflicted, guilty, and even out of control. Let’s take a closer look. 


Learning more about the pros and cons of foods is a great way to empower yourself. You can do this by understanding macronutrients (protein/fats/carbs) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and nutritional labelling.  

By thinking of food as fuel, you can look at foods more objectively and decide if they will enrich your body, or not. Dropping the bad/good labels can even help to avoid the diet cycle.

Here’s an example of how the diet cycle can play out: 

Diet or restriction: Chocolate is ‘bad.’ I won’t be having any more of it. Not now, not ever. 

Deprivation: I miss chocolate, but I simply can’t have ANY EVER. I can’t stop thinking about chocolate cake, chocolate bars, chocolate ice cream. Mmm, chocolate. 

Blow out: There’s chocolate in the house. Oops. I’m eating it. I’ll have a square or two…. Oops I’ve eaten it all. Wayyyy more than I planned. 

Feeling guilt or shame: I am so greedy. I shouldn’t have eaten that. I feel awful. I’m a bad person. 

Back to diet/restriction: I’m right back where I started. But THIS time, I’ll stick to it. I will not eat chocolate anymore. 

And so the diet cycle continues. The way to break out of the diet cycle is when you stop labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and allow yourself all foods as part of a varied, balanced diet. Give yourself permission to eat the foods you want and stop restricting yourself! 

Doing this might take a little while and, at first, you might eat lots more of a particular food than you planned. This is because your mind is used to restriction and doesn’t quite believe that you will always be allowed these foods. Be kind to yourself when this happens and know that it will pass. 

Be mindful of the way you talk about food. When you go to say a food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ try and use an alternative. Is it nutritious? Filling? Sugary? High in additives? Crunchy? Not every food is created nutritionally equal, but most foods can have a place in a healthy, balanced diet. 

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