My Good & Bad Foods List

Years ago when I started seeing my acupuncturist, she asked me to keep a food journal. Quite proud of my healthy diet, I was eager to do so. There was one thing, however, that I wasn't too keen to reveal--my Diet Pepsi habit.

I was ashamed to admit I consumed something on my "bad" foods list. I worried doing so would taint my good girl, healthy eater image and that she would think less of me.

Can you relate?

Food Morality
In the food and diet worlds, there's a lot of good girl/bad girl and good boy/bad boy mentality.

That is, if I eat just the right amount of healthy "good" foods, I'm a good person. However, if I indulge in a lot of unhealthy "bad" foods, I'm a bad person. I must repent and punish myself with excessive exercise, calorie cutting, guilty admissions or abusive self-talk.

The thing is, food isn't morally good or bad.

And what you eat does not make you a good or bad person.

Sure, some foods promote good health while others demote it. Some foods create desirable effects (e.g., long-term energy) while others cause undesirable effects (e.g., gas). And the dose can make all the difference.

But food is morally neutral.

You won't go to hell for wolfing down chili fries, bacon cheeseburgers or triple-fudge brownies. Nor will you earn a halo for nibbling on only kale, berries, quinoa and nuts.
The Power of Food Labeling
When we label foods good or bad, we often imply that the eater of such foods is either a good or bad person. Even our desires for "forbidden" foods can make us feel like a bad person (e.g., I constantly crave sugar therefore I'm a weak-willed, bad person).

We've been conditioned to believe that when we eat "good" foods, we're more in control, perfect, disciplined, superior, intelligent, and worthy of love and admiration. We're a better person. When "bad" foods are consumed, we often feel just the opposite about ourselves and other "offenders."

This good/bad food mentality creates a lot of unnecessary misery, guilt, shame, fear, stress and judgment, ultimately impacting our overall health and well-being.  

These limiting beliefs also stop us from being curious and trusting our own innate body wisdom to guide us.

Food for Thought
Take a moment to list the foods on your "good" and "bad" list.

What makes these foods "good" or "bad?"

What information or experiences led you to label each item as such?

Do you eat foods today that you once considered "bad?"

How do you feel about and treat yourself when you eat your "good" and "bad" foods?

How do you feel about and treat others when they eat the foods on your list?

Release Your Moralizing Food Beliefs
Of course, it can be helpful, healthy and loving to categorize foods according to how they affect our body. It is not helpful, healthy or loving to label ourselves or others as "good" or "bad" based on what we consume.

Relinquishing moralizing food beliefs takes time, but trust me, doing so is extremely freeing.

(In case you're wondering, I did fess up to the Diet Pepsi. With my acupuncturist's encouragement, I ditched the soda for many reasons. Sure, part of me wanted to be a good girl, but I had a much larger desire to nourish my body better.)