Do you agree with the saying “you are what you eat?” Does that mean if you eat something disgusting that you are disgusting? No.
Often we judge ourselves negatively as a result of judging foods negatively. When we categorize foods as good (“broccoli”) or bad (“potato chips”), we are set up to view ourselves as good or bad when we eat certain foods.
Consider another option. Think about food this way:
- High nutrition/high pleasure: This should describe most of the foods you choose. This provides a balanced lifestyle that is easiest to maintain because both health needs and food preferences are addressed.
- High nutrition/low pleasure: Not a recipe for long-term success. You can’t dislike your food.
- Low nutrition/high pleasure: It’s OK to indulge on occasion. If we never allow ourselves these treats, we are likely to overeat out of feelings of deprivation.
- Low nutrition/ low pleasure: The worst choice for obvious reasons.
Much of this depends on your taste preferences.
For example, Quinoa is high in protein and low in calories, fat and cholesterol. It is also considered a good source of iron and fiber. If you like the taste of Quinoa, then it would be considered a high-nutrition/high-pleasure food ““ the best kind.
If you do not like the taste of Quinoa, then it would be high nutrition/low pleasure.
When we can eliminate negative labels from food, we can remove the guilt and shame we feel from eating them. Guilt and shame only contribute to additional overeating: a vicious cycle. All foods fit. The more energy we can spend finding healthy foods we love, rather than hating ourselves for enjoying those empty calories, the more likely we are to reach our health goals.
Laurie Little, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist at the St. Elizabeth Weight Management Center in Florence, Ky.