The battle between good food vs bad food is one that confuses and frustrates many people who are trying to lose weight. But when you add an eating disorder to that equation, havoc wreaks. Is there such thing as good and bad food? What is the criteria for a particular food to fall into one of these categories? Is it perhaps just diet industry fueled obsession that is a possible cause of so much disordered eating?
I know for myself that this issue caused me many years of obsession and frustration. Carbohydrates were definitely in the “bad” category for a long time while I was following an Atkins eating plan and then as my dieting adventures progressed, the number of foods and food groups that were thrown into the “bad” bin kept piling up. The result? A deadly eating disorder, mental obsession, years lost calorie counting, purging, binge eating, hospitalization and the net weight result – I gained a lot more weight than I started with.
So back to the good food vs bad food question. It was time for this referee to rethink the criteria, in light of the decade of my own personal research.
Food that I actually like
Food that I do NOT like
That is my personal view and opinion on the good vs bad food debate. I know this seems oversimplified and I am not a dietitian or nutritionist, but what I have found throughout my battle with eating disorders is that the more I try to obsess and only eat “good” food, the more I will eventually eat the “bad” food that I am so desperately trying to avoid.
I had a girl email me about this exact topic and I will post the email and response here.
Q: Hope you are enjoying your weekend – I have a question for you – I don’t know if you ever battled with the good food versus bad food theory? I guess for many years that is how I saw food – if I thought the food made me gain weight, it was bad; if it made me lose weight it was good. My decision to choose foods was never based on how it tasted to me. These days I’m not even sure anymore what tastes good to me.
Have there been any foods for you that you have been hesitate to try again and how did you overcome the fear of integrating them back into your diet?
A: I really don’t believe that there is such a thing as good or bad food. I spent many years only buying and preparing healthy food and I was obsessed with it. I would allow anything bad to enter my mouth – unless I was binge eating. Then the eating completely took over and it was all “bad” food.
I am was around some health conscious eaters and personal trainers a few nights ago. They were all pretty health food conscious. I think that’s great – for them – but very dangerous for me. One guy is a personal trainer and was talking about what the perfect daily meal plan was – the mix of carb,fat,protein etc… when you should eat, how much… and I could feel my old ED head trying to pull me into the realm of “good food vs bad food” thinking.
The ED wants me back to the counting, planning, eating the perfect food at the perfect time. But I can catch this now before it even starts. I immediately switch off from the conversation. I know that any kind of good food vs bad food thinking is the road to misery, destruction and despair.
There is no perfect meal plan! The only perfect thing is the way that I eat now. I eat things that I like, I eat when I feel hungry and once a meal is done, I do not think about it again.
I refuse to get into the dieting or “healthy eating” mentality. Its just a luxury that people with eating disorders cannot afford.
As for the fear – I totally understand that. Start slow, dont overwhelm your body and brain. Have faith and trust. You can trust that if I am eating this way 3 years on and have probably lost weight, then there is nothing to fear.
Just start off slow, trust your body and learn again to listen to your body and what it wants. Let go of the good vs bad thinking.
If anything tastes like crap and bland, I’m not eating it.
I find that I am healthier now than I ever was when I was trying to be “healthy”. Plus I truly believe that we don’t have the luxury of obsessing about “health and nutrition” – its an Eating Disorder trick to reel us back into the insanity of the disease.
What do you think about the good food vs bad food debate? Does this kind of thinking frustrate your attempts to stay on track in recovery? Or has it helped you to recover? Would love to hear your experiences and thoughts!