What is clean? the chances are everyone will have a different definition
A Vegetarian: No meat
A Vegan: No animal products
A Paleo: No grains
The list goes on should really be demonising food in such a manner? because no matter what you eat someone will have an opinion whether it’s the right things to do or quote on quote the “healthy” option.
Let’s examine that shall we, what makes a food healthy? Is it the nutrient density? the calorie content? the fact that it’s all over social media? A healthy food can be any food as long as it is consumed in a healthy quantity.
No food is inherently bad for you yet the media would make you think otherwise and every cookbook with coconut oil, exotic grains, sugar-free, gluten-free need I say more.. it can make you feel just a bit crappy about your own diet.
Let’s look at how food’s could be bad for you
- consuming excess food for energy requirement resulting in negative energy balance
- not consuming sufficient micronutrients leading to deficiencies
- placing too much restriction on your choices resulting in disordered behaviours
Any food eaten in excess can be harmful over time, as it produces a negative energy balance essentially you are eating more than you are using which lead to weight gain. Excess weight over time can be damaging no matter whether that can from whole foods or processed foods.
Energy in VS Energy Out
It really is that simple yet we are made to feel like we are bad if we allow these so-called unhealthy foods to contribute to part of that daily intake. For some people on high energy requirements or who require gaining weight these high energy dense foods are optimal for them to ingest sufficient calories to sustain their bodily functions, therefore we must never judge unless we know the circumstances.
That being said all foods hold different variations of nutrient quality and quantity, for example, it’s quite obvious that a bowl of vegetables is more nutrient dense than a slice of cake. Whilst nutrient deficiency is an issue in high energy dense diets, as long as that is not solely your diet then you shouldn’t be at any risk. deficiency is far more likely with food faddism as removing whole food groups from your diet reduces the variety and quality of nutrients available to your body.
Which brings me nicely to my last point don’t place unnecessary restrictions on yourself or your food, just because you see things on social media, in the headlines, in the cookbooks doe NOT mean that you have to do it. The external influences on our own relationship with food are forever expanding which is very dangerous, as these restrictions can develop into disordered eating patterns. It can lead to labelling foods, avoidance of foods and put a strain on your physical and mental energy, food from a biological point of view is fuel, but it’s so much more than that. Food is how we connect socially, it allows us to express our personality, and just enjoy without feeling guilty.
Eating disorders and disordered eating are very real, food fads and crazy diets, negative association with food are very real, demonising a specific food or ingredient is very real in today’s society so how do you escape it?
The answer finds what works for you, there is no normal way to eat because everyone has different energy requirements, different tastes and preferences as long as you are ensuring you eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods and have mental freedom to enjoy a slice of cake if you want it then that is BALANCE. This is the key to a long-term healthy relationship with food and life because you won’t always want the salad or you might see a dessert that screams your name. So just enjoy it, make memories and remember that no food is GOOD or BAD.