I grew up thinking that there were ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods.

In my middle school health class, I was taught to avoid fats at all costs. At home, I was encouraged to eat fruits and veggies because they would help me grow. And somewhere between the Atkins diet that my parents religiously followed for a few months and my own self-hate (ugh, teenage years are the worst!) I realized that I—like many of us—had an unhealthy relationship with food.

And it’s rooted in the idea that there are certain foods that are ‘good’ vs. ‘bad.’ Which simply isn’t true.

So whether you’re struggling with food groups, fad diets, and body image, or are curious how things you consider ‘bad’ could actually be good, here’s what you need to know:

happy woman eating


Food preference is largely rooted in memories.

If you think about the foods you love, why do you love them? When did you last have them? If you ask me, I can pinpoint the exact moment I last ate macaroni and cheese, where I had it, and the specific flavor, texture, and spice. (LOL I’m not kidding.)

For many of us, different (and preferred) foods come with memories. And this is true about the reverse, too. Sometimes breaking down those barriers and predetermined realities can help us understand the truth about what we consider ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food.

Maybe it’s not as bad as we think, we just have bad memories.

We have to stop seeing our appearance related to what we eat.

With the digital culture, influx of social media, and rules regarding what we ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ eat, sometimes we think that there’s a direct connection between what we eat and what we look like.

This. Is. Not. True.

And if you’re fooling yourself into believing it, you have to change your perspective. Food is energy, it’s fuel, and it’s something that helps your survivial. It’s not who you are or what you look like.

Properly fuel your body so you aren’t inclined to overindulge.

Creating a healthy relationship with food starts by eating in moderation – not necessarily classifying what’s ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

Think about your post-workout meal, for example. What is it? Is it giving you proper nutrients? Is it filling you up so that you aren’t inclined to crave?

Changing what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food starts with our dialogue.

How many times have you heard, “Ugh, I ate so terribly this weekend?” or something of the like? How many times have you said something like that? (Guilty as charged!) Quite often we create negative associations with food simply because we’re making ourselves feel bad about what we’ve eaten.

But isn’t not the food that’s bad. It’s not the situation that’s bad (even if you ate a lot or binged). Rather than beating yourself up for something, obsessively counting calories, or even giving yourself permission to ‘eat poorly’ see food as simply food.

You can have a lot some days and a little on others. You can eat fruit one morning and a donut the next. You can enjoy pizza and beer with friends on Friday and then a quinoa salad Sunday.

It’s about balance not building negative perspectives and habits.

Marisa Donnelly

Marisa is a full-time freelance writer, editor, and fitness enthusiast located in Ocean Beach, San Diego. She is the author of the poetry collection, Somewhere On A Highway and founder of Be A Light LLC, a remote writing coaching/tutoring/editing services company.


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