Junk foods get a bad rap.
As they are usually low in nutritional value, they’ve earned a cruddy reputation.
And because they are often put in the “bad foods” bucket, we tend to feel like we’re being bad when we eat them.
However, when you think about it, junk foods do have value in that they can provide a tremendous amount of pleasure—an essential component of the eating experience.
Since they do have intrinsic value, thinking of them as worthless garbage is actually unwarranted.
For this reason, in Intuitive Eating, junk foods are referred to as “play foods.”
Like unrestricted playtime, we can experience a lot of fun, joy and pleasure when eating play foods like candy, cupcakes, donuts, fries or chips. Sometimes foods like these are exactly what we need to feel nourished and satisfied.
Unconditional Permission to Eat
When you’re new to Intuitive Eating, it can feel scary to eat the play foods you’ve long considered illegal or off-limits.
Perhaps you’re worried you might lose control and overeat them. If this has been your experience, it's totally understandable. Food restrictions and rules often lead to overeating and binge eating.
However, when you truly give yourself unconditional permission to eat what feels right when it feels right, and honor the messages your body is sending you, you will develop a more relaxed relationship with all foods—versus a rigid, reactive or reckless one.
When this happens, play foods will simply be just one component of an overall balanced diet.