How many times have you avoided a food because of the label “bad”? Or maybe you’ve binged on pistachios because they’re “good”? This is a problem, and it’s running rampant.
Diet culture is all around us, and while I could write thousands of words on the topic, I’m going to focus my attention on one specific issue: food morality. Over the years, the diet industry has taken us all on a long and winding road through food rules. One decade fat is the problem, the next it’s all due to carbs. Wait, I know, let’s say we can eat anything we want, but restrict the amount.
The Bad News
The problem with all of these rules is that it attaches morality to food. On a low-fat diet, you may say that avocado and almond butter are bad foods. If you’re avoiding carbs, bread and pasta are the devil. If you’re counting, anything you can eat in masses all of the sudden becomes wonderful, even if it has close to zero nutritional value #ricecakes.
What seems like a healthy behavior suddenly becomes obsessive, and when you even take a bite of “bad” food, you’re ridden with guilt. So much so, that you decide to eat the whole “bad” cake.
Here’s the deal, though. There’s no such thing as good and bad food. It’s even hard for me to define “healthy” food. Seriously, why is something healthy? It balances well with the rest of what you ate that day? Well then it may not be healthy tomorrow? This is getting confusing.
When we make such bold claims, and draw such exact lines, we get into trouble. Life is not black and white. No matter how much we want an easy answer, a specific prescription for success, and a list of do’s and don’ts; that’s just not how a healthy lifestyle works.
The Good News
Here’s the good news though, it’s actually EASIER than we’ve been making it. It’s sometimes more annoying. It seems ambiguous at times (especially for us type-a-ers….I know, it’s miserable). But in the end, living a healthy lifestyle is all about a culmination of hundreds of tiny decisions you make each day, week, month, and year.
So how do you actually live a healthy lifestyle? This is another topic we could spend hours upon hours discussing. To boil it down to a few actionable points, though, I’d start with these:
Eat More Real Food
Define this as you will, but don’t obsess over it. Less packaged unidentifiable stuff, and more actual food.
Honor Your Hunger and Fullness
This can take YEARS to hone, especially if you’ve been relying on another person or app to tell you what you need. Keep going, it get’s easier.
Move and Make it Fun
Exercise is so good for you. Physically, mentally, and even spiritually. Find an exercise that you enjoy and can do regularly. Don’t worry about how many calories you’re burning. That’s not the point.
Add One New Habit Each Month
If I had to give a “prescription” this would be it. What is something healthy that you would like to do, or do more of? Start this month by making it a priority. It’s very important to only pick ONE (calm down you overachievers, research backs this up).
Ok, now tell me below what you think a healthy lifestyle looks like. Are you still bound in the rigors of choosing between “good” and “bad” foods? Say it out loud with me: food does not have morality. Add this to your daily affirmations if needed. FOOD DOES NOT HAVE MORALITY.