Each week, someone always says to me ‘oh, I was bad this weekend’. No, they didn’t rob a bank, kill anyone, or pick up some random dude at the pub, or wherever random dudes hang out these days (well, not that its any of my business, though it is juicy gossip..). Usually being ‘bad’ means they ate some junk food or didn’t exercise. Well, chances are I ate junk food too and maybe I didn’t do anything more active than clean the bathroom. And its OK.
Having a chocolate bar does not make you a bad person. Its really not a big deal. Yes, it may mean it’s taken you further away from your health goal, but it doesn’t mean you’re ‘bad’.
I may have an issue with you having several chocolate bars at once or having chocolate bars every day, but it still doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ person it just means it might take longer to get to your health goal.
The problem with considering foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and therefore ourselves as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because of what we ate is that it sets us up for failure, feelings of guilt and a need to punish ourselves.
When we think of ourselves and our food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ we end up in danger of an all-or-nothing, obsessive approach that can lead to a cycle of bingeing and restricting.
If we consider food as neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ and instead look at it as just food, as a way to nourish our bodies, get energy or simply give us joy we start to take away the self-judgement, the feelings of guilt and the need to punish ourselves for being ‘bad’.
Suddenly the ‘bad’ foods are no longer ‘off-limits’. Because of this we no longer need to exercise our willpower to avoid them because, after all, they are just food. Somehow the attraction of the ‘bad’ food loses its shine after a while because, well, we can have them if we want.
We should instead focus on things like:
- How is this food making me feel?
- Is it what I really want to eat at this time?
- Is this food choice the best option for me right now?
- Am I in control of my food choices?
Focusing on these instead of if the food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ will guide you to make the best choices for you at the time and help you to be more mindful of your food.