Let’s get into the topic ‘’good foods versus bad foods’’ and the myth that certain foods are bad for you and certain foods are good for you. Something I hear all the time, and it kind of makes me cringe but it’s just a part of our society, is when someone eats something and they say, “Oh, that’s healthy.” And when someone eats something else, they say, “Oh, that’s unhealthy.”
The reason I find that troublesome is because food is inherently healthy. There is no such thing as bad food. Food does not make you unhealthy in any way, shape, or form. Unless, you’re allergic or you have some issue that you can’t eat certain foods. If you have your gallbladder out and you eat a high fat food, maybe for you, that’s unhealthy. But a normal person with normal digestive system in a good state of being can eat pizza and it’s not unhealthy. The term unhealthy, I believe, relates to its ability to store body fat quickly because it’s a calorie dense food.
Cheese fries. That’s unhealthy. No. Cheese fries are french fries, which are potatoes which are fried, and cheese which is dairy from a cow, and sour cream or ranch or whatever. Those combination of things makes the calories increase quite quickly and makes it easier to consume a lot of it in a short amount of time. So when we talk about good foods versus bad foods, I think what we’re actually discussing is good portions versus bad portions.
Eating Goal Oriented
Somebody like myself and perhaps some of the readers who are more accustomed to tracking their foods, are aware of what healthy and unhealthy foods are, or good or not good foods are. Because we’ve been tracking them for so long and therefore, we can remove these labels, right? I don’t ever look at a food as good or not good, or healthy or unhealthy. I look at a food as, “Does it meet my requirements for my goals?”.
Goal oriented eating is much more appropriate than using the term healthy or unhealthy, or good or bad. I like candy bars, ice cream, sweets, food and cake. Those things, are they unhealthy? No because depending on where I’m at in my life, I either choose to eat them or not. They are goal based foods.
Now, a person who’s not real familiar with tracking their nutrition, they’re not familiar with what macronutrients are. They’re not familiar with dieting in any respect. They just kind of eat mindfully throughout the day, they eat whatever they’re in the mood for. If you give them some idea of what are good and bad foods to eat, this might actually be beneficial. Why? Because they’ll start to avoid calorie dense foods and instead replace them with foods that are more micronutrient dense, keep them fuller, and don’t have the same impact on body fat as let’s say pizza and something like cheese fries.
The Problem With Labels
When I find someone that is interested in getting leaner and losing fat but they’re not really familiar with nutrition on any level, all I do is have them track their diet for a week. But don’t change their eating habits. I don’t want a false representation of what they’ve been doing. Afterwards, we can kind of look at what they’ve been doing and break it down. I often find a common theme and that is people who want to lose a little bit of weight will look for foods that are labeled as healthy or good for you. We can assume that just by changing that structure to their plan that they’re going to be eating better and they’re going to start to see results.
The problem is, when you go to a restaurant or when you go to a grocery store and you look at the front of the package and it says, “Good for you” or “Healthy”. It’s a green label or it’s designed to be marketed to those who want to think it’s a good option. You still need to educate yourself on what’s on the back of the package. What does the nutrition label say, and even deeper, how many servings does that nutrition label say? Sometimes, it will look nice. When you look at the numbers, it’ll say, “Only 100 calories.” But then you look at the serving size and it’s four servings per slice or per cookie.
A great example of this would be the Complete Cookie, which is kind of marketed as healthy because it’s organic, vegetarian, and it’s not baked. These Complete Cookies are good and I eat them, but if you look at the back you will see that the macronutrients are pretty ridiculous for what is considered to be healthy. You have to replace quite a bit of food to eat one of those complete cookies. Not saying I have a problem with it. I don’t. But for the person who’s not real familiar with diet, they might get fooled into thinking that those types of things are going to benefit them, when it may not be the case.
Instead of looking for magic foods or good foods versus bad foods, I would just ask that you start to look at the food labels on the things that you eat. Start to be aware of what you eat. I don’t expect the average person who’s not going to get on a body building stage to track every single thing they eat to weigh it out. But if you just educate yourself a little bit on what are in certain foods, you’ll quickly discover that certain things are a lot higher in fat than you thought, a lot lower in protein, and perhaps a lot higher in carb.
I see some things labeled as high protein and they’ll have like 10 grams of protein but also like 30 grams of fat on the food. I think if I didn’t know what I know, if I wasn’t taught to look at the labels, and I was just trying to eat healthy, I would go to the grocery store and grab a lot of these things, and I would be very disappointed with the results.
So with that being said, are there foods that are better for your goals? Yes, absolutely. Foods that are higher in volume while lower in calories are generally going to be better for weight loss goals because you get the sensation of eating, you get higher volume food, you get satiety, and instead of eating something that’s higher calorie, you’re able to stave off hunger for a longer period of time. There’s a lot of options now for things that are lower carb, lower fat, lower calorie for things that we would typically get a lot of calories from. I like to keep foods similar when I diet, I just change the sources. For example, I eat a lot of calories at breakfast, sometimes I’ll eat waffles or pancakes and syrup. I love syrup. But as I diet, I will start to use lower calorie syrups.
The big picture is, educate yourself by looking at the food labels, track what you eat, and start to be aware of the differences.
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