We must stop with all the good food/bad food and diet talk.

8th December, 2015

As you let go of diet mentality and start eating more intuitively, it’s not unusual to notice how caught up or obsessed other people are with food and weight.

One client became really aware of how her family constantly engages in good food/bad food talk, how they almost fear some foods and all in the name of “watching their waists”. Her family have been dieting and struggling with their weight for as long as she can remember. Despite constantly restricting food and trying to be “good”, most family members are now at their heaviest weight. This is an all too common scenario and the problem does not lie with the individual, it lies within the dieting process itself. Given people have been in dieting in the millions for over 60 years, if the ability to control our weight was as simple as eating less and moving more, we’d be a nation of thin people. The fact that the overwhelming majority of people are unable to maintain weight loss is not because they lack willpower or are lazy, the reasons people can’t maintain dieting and can’t maintain the initial weight loss are due to complex biological and psychological changes that are part of our bodies defence of body weight and our survival mechanism.

Therefore, as dieting or restricting calories does not lead to long-term weight loss or health benefits and can actually cause harm through damaging a persons relationship with food and their body, and even lead to weight gain, it’s time to stop the diet talk!

Here are some examples of the good food/bad food and diet talk that so many people are engaging in on a daily basis:

“We can look, but we can’t touch!” – this came from a group of women in their 50s, they were commenting on the cake display in a cafe.

“Are you allowed to eat that?” – a comment from a client’s friend who knew she was seeing a dietitian

(then from the same friend) “Aren’t you worried you’ll put on weight?”

“They’re pure evil!” – in reference to the calorie content

“It’s ok to be naughty once in a while”

“A minute on the lips, a life-time on the hips!” – this has been around for years and years

“Surely that can’t be good for you?”

“I’ll burn it off tomorrow.”

“One won’t hurt.”

“This bad boy…” – something I have noticed being used more recently

If you have spent a number of years dieting and engaging in this type of talk, how helpful has this been for you? If you experience guilt and anxiety around food or find yourself regularly preoccupied with food, this type of talk is almost definitely contributing to your struggle with managing your eating and your weight.

If you have kids, what message do you think this is sending to them? Kids are very impressionable and can not comprehend the nuance of such talk. They will hear that certain food is evil or forbidden and this can, and does, lead to sneaking food. Many of my clients report sneaking food as kids or young teenagers in response to being told they shouldn’t eat certain food or that some food is off limits.

Not for a second am I suggesting we should all just eat what ever we want without concern for our health. I am just wanting to highlight how ridiculous our obsession with food and eating has become and how futile this way of thinking is. Yes we should care about how and what we eat and we can do this within the context of intuitive eating. When we eat intuitively we are more likely to nourish our body well, have a positive relationship with food and our body, and reduce our risk of diet related diseases. So how does cake fit in to intuitive eating?

In the context of intuitive eating, you might choose to eat cake because:

  • You feel like having a piece
  • You have room enough in your appetite to enjoy it (i.e. not already full)
  • You know you’ll really enjoy the cake
  • You know you’ll feel satisfied afterward

Eating intuitively is also recognising when you’ve eaten enough, sometimes this might be the whole slice, sometimes it might just be a few bites.

Thanks for reading!