When pizza may actually be healthier than a plate full of veggies…

3rd December, 2019

Diet culture, and indeed mainstream nutrition advice, has most people believing a meal of fish with lots of veggies must be healthier than pizza.

While both meals offer a variety of nutrition and both can be equally as healthy, there are many instances where unconditional permission* to enjoy pizza can be the healthier choice.

Let’s look at some examples of what can happen when you see pizza as the unhealthy choice…

  • Your partner wants pizza for dinner and although you secretly would like pizza too, you refuse in the name of “health” and end up eating separately and not enjoying time together.
  • Eating the fish and veggies, although tasty, doesn’t quite satisfy and you end up “searching” for something else, which results in you eating something you didn’t intend to and perhaps feeling overfull. Of course, if you do eat something you didn’t intend to, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s only if you would have preferred not to eat that it may be an issue.
  • You’ve planned to catch up with friends for dinner and when everyone’s happy to go with pizza except you, you find an excuse not to go out with them.
  • You really do like pizza and so you eat some, but then you feel awful about yourself and make a decision to restrict food (or be “good”) the next day, which usually leads to feeling over-hungry and then over-eating (or binge eating behaviour). Now eating the pizza, or the over-eating/binge-eating the next day, is not the problem, it’s the restricting in the first place that’s the issue.
  • You miss out on the opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal that also gives you a good variety of nutrition. You may also miss out on what is truly the key to well-being – human connection (aka hanging out with your friends and loved ones)

Bottom line is both meals provide good nutrition – while the fish and veggies will have more of some nutrients, the pizza will have more of other nutrients and nutrition does not happen meal to meal, or even day to day. Regardless of this, nutrition is only one aspect of health. Spending time with other people, sharing food, getting pleasure from food and not experiencing anxiety or guilt around food are equally, if not more, important to our overall health.

Unconditional permission* – this refers to freedom to eat a food without any thoughts or belief of needing to compensate for that choice. Common examples of compensation are, feeling the need to “burn” the food off, eating less or avoiding certain food over the next day or two.