If I asked you to define healthy… what words would you use to describe “healthy.” Are there certain foods that are healthy? What qualities of food make it healthy? Low in calories and/or fat? Do you consider certain behaviors healthy? Exercising frequently, taking the stairs, etc…And on the flip side, I bet you can name numerous foods that are “unhealthy” and coincidentally they are most likely your favorite indulgences. For me (and keep in mind I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant), my indulgences include a greasy cheeseburger and fries or rich vanilla ice cream with hot fudge and not the low fat stuff, I mean the real thick and creamy full fat goodness. But I digress.
What if I proposed the the word healthy is creating a problem? But importantly, what if there was another way to look at it? Another perspective that may give you a stress free relationship with food?
By labeling a food healthy or unhealthy, we are creating a black and white relationship food. The word healthy implies something good for your body and unhealthy is something to avoid. If you have something healthy, GREAT! Gold star for you! You ate your green beans! If you eat something unhealthy, prepare for the guilt shame spiral. Have you been there before? I have. While I was losing my weight, I had a certain list of foods I allowed myself to eat and an even larger list of foods I never ever allowed myself to eat because they were bad for me. And of course, those were the foods I craved. The foods I would drool over. JUST GIVE ME A DAMN DOUGHNUT!!!! It made for a miserable grocery shopping experience and forget about going out to eat! Ordering the food I “should get” (dry grilled chicken with steamed broccoli and water) as opposed to what I really wanted (cheeseburger, fries and a margarita) got old really quick. I bet I’m not alone here in this and many other situations that involve this black or white thinking about food.
So what’s the answer? Maybe change your black and white thinking to more of a spectrum. Some foods would be green light foods. And yes, you can guess what those would be. Anything naturally green is a great place to start. Some may be reaching toward yellow light foods. Maybe not eat them everyday but they still have a place in your diet. Red meat is a good example. Maybe don’t eat it everyday, but weekly, it’s a great source of iron and protein. And then there’s red light foods. It doesn’t mean STOP DON’T EAT THIS. It means carefully consider if it fits in your food spectrum for the week, day or even particular meal. Don’t fill your plate with red light foods or eat multiple red light foods today/this week. Does that make sense?
Another way to look at building a more fulfilling relationship with food is use the 80/20 rule. Eat sensible 80% of the time and give yourself 20% of whatever indulgences you want. But calling something healthy and unhealthy, to me, seems unwise. Ice cream can be healthy in terms of reaching your calcium requirements and it has protein as well. It boils down to everything can fit in moderation. Right?
Make it awesome!