Breaking free from food rules
“There is no such thing as good or bad food. There is simply food that moves us towards our goal, and food that moves us away.” Truth!
Food is neither good nor bad, it’s just food. All food has calories and macro and micronutrients. All food is derived from nature. It’s the meaning we place on it which makes it good or bad. And most of the meaning we place on food is not objective, it’s based on our subjective feeling about it, which comes from rules we learned during childhood, most of which are derived from fear.
Think about it. How many times where you punished or scolded for eating something that was “bad” for you? Did the adult who punished you ever take the time to explain why it was bad? Probably not. That’s because when we feel the urge to punish someone, it’s because seeing them do that behavior has triggered a bad feeling in us, unconsciously. So, we have the urge to stop them from doing the behavior so that our bad feeling can go away. I correct you outwardly, as I correct myself inwardly.
Our rules around food are learned from our parents, whose rules were learned from their parents. How we determine which food is bad and which is good, usually comes from how we were punished as a child. When we are punished for eating too much sugar for example, we learn that sugar is bad. So, when we eat it as adults, the moment of pleasure is very quickly replaced by a feeling of guilt or shame. Most of this behavior is unconscious. But food becomes good or bad based on how it makes us feel. Not on an objective meaning that is measurable in reality.
So, what would be a better way to view food? Given that all food has calories and macros, the only way we could label food good or bad is if it moves us towards or away from our goal. If I have a goal of eating 1800 calories per day to burn body fat for my wedding, and I choose to eat a pizza that pushes my calorie intake to 2200 for the day, then I could label that pizza as bad because it moved me away from my goal. Similarly, if I choose to eat six pieces of highly nutritious fruit, and that choice pushes me to eat 2000 calories that day, that fruit would also be bad. It’s not the food that is bad, it’s whether or not the choice to eat it moves you towards or away from your goal.
The takeaway? If you’re not working towards a measurable goal, food is neither good nor bad, it’s just food. I stopped binging when I realized I didn’t need rules around food, I needed a measurable, objective goal to work towards. Without it, I was just satiating myself with punishment and reward, believing it was helping me to control my behavior (it wasn’t by the way). To move on in life you need to stop measuring success based on how you feel, and start measuring on whether you’re moving towards or away from your goals.
Do this, and watch how your relationship with food changes.
What are the goals you are working towards?