It is well known that our food choices contribute largely to our physical state. By choosing nutrient dense, whole and minimally processed foods, we can fight illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
But our health is not just physical. As a whole, our health also includes our mental health and emotional well-being. What may be not so obvious is that our food choices, our behaviours, and even our choice of language around food, largely affect our mental well-being also.
In order to lose weight, the typical dieter’s mindset is to give up sweets, chocolate, crisps, cake, ice-cream, and white bread. In other words, all nutrient-less or “bad” foods.
But here’s the thing, we don’t. We can still eat some cake and reach our goals. We simply eat some of the cake some of the time instead of all of the cake all of the time.
And here’s the other thing, there is no such thing as “bad” or “good” food either for that matter. Our food choices do not hold any moral values. We either make choices that are conducive towards our goals or we don’t.
Bearing in mind that it is OK to make food choices some of the time that are not based purely on our fat loss goals or for the sake of our physical health. We can and should make some food choices because we enjoy the taste, the texture, how it makes us feel, and because it's fun to eat!
For example, chocolate cake is neither good nor bad. Sure, if we ate nothing but cake then we would be missing out on essential vitamins and minerals that our necessary to keep us alive and well. So yes, in this context, cake would be unhealthy.
On the other hand, if we ate nothing but green vegetables then our diet would be lacking essential macronutrients, such as protein, which is the basic building block of our bodies and vital for a body to thrive. So in this context, eating nothing but vegetables would be equally as unhealthy as eating all the cake, even though vegetables are inherently considered “good”.
We need to look at our eating behaviours on a whole instead of taking our food choices out of context and labelling them as “good” or “bad”. Cake should be considered in a holistic way, as part of our diet overall, in exactly the same way vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and fats are.
It's called balance. Unfortunately, a word that has lost its sex appeal in recent years.
Why So Bad to Say "Bad"?
The use of our language may seem trivial but it can be problematic if it results in feelings of guilt over our food choices. If we eat “bad” foods then we are potentially instilling a belief that we did something wrong or immoral. Or indeed, the polar opposite and experience feeling of self-righteousness because you ate "good" food.
We can feel guilty if we eat too much “bad” food, or alternatively we can feel a sense of superiority if we have eaten “good” food. This style of black or white thinking inevitably leads to emotional distress as feelings of guilt set in. Or worse still, you can experience shame because you have led yourself to believe that you have strayed from your dietary goals.
Using phrases such as “I’ve been so bad” can imply a sense of being a bad person and a sense of shame, which can lead to diminished self-worth and poor mental well-being.
Down with that sort of thing!
"Clean eating" falls in this "good" category too. And for the record, NO, you are not a better person than me because you eat kale crisps.
Eat The Chocolate
If your eating behaviours and food choices have been positive overall, i.e. plenty of whole and minimally processed foods such as lean meats, fish, veggies, nuts, seeds, some diary, and whole grains then there is absolutely room to include fun foods that we enjoy to eat, regardless of their nutrient-less content.
Here's 15 fabulous reasons why chocolate is fabliss for you:
1. It's delicious and gives great pleasure to eat it. Enough said.
2. It's a pretty important ingredient for chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is delicious and gives great pleasure to eat it. Enough said.
3. Maltesers wouldn't exist without chocolate and that would make me (and you) sad.
4. What is life without chocolate biscuit cake in your life, but an existence.
5. You wouldn't have that cute photo of you when you were 3 years old with melted chocolate all over your face and clothes.
6. Chocolate fountains at weddings bring family and friends together.
7. Unravelling a Moro bar layer by layer with only my tongue is the most fun I can have on my own.
8. I recently discovered white chocolate covered fingers, next level excitement.
9. Dunking chocolate digestives in your tea is thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable.
10. Nibbling dark chocolate while sipping red wine tantalises my taste buds.
11. Chocolate is an aphrodisiac, apparently.
12. Easter wouldn't exist. And we need Easter to forgive our sins.
13. Pouring any type of share bag of chocolate into your bucket of popcorn in the cinema and sharing with your new fella is too cute.
14. 99's make everyone happy.
15. Chocolate is fun, we could all do with more fun in our lives.
If you are choosing to enjoy chocolate as a treat – a fun food that we enjoy from time to time – then don’t worry about the processed ingredients, and enjoy every last lick of the melted chocolate as you dunk it in your tea, guilt free.
Unless you robbed it from the shops, then yes, feel guilty then, you thief you.
Allow yourself treats or fun foods about 10-20% of the time (goal dependent), without the moral label, regardless of their nutritional value, and regardless of whether you have a fat loss, health, or sports performance goal, and watch the mental struggle disappear.
Live your life. Don't endure it. Eat some cake. Or chocolate for that matter.
Thanks for reading,
PS If you enjoyed what you read then you will absolutely love my online nutrition coaching program - Ignition Nutrition, where you will empower yourself with all the tools and knowledge you will ever need for long lasting fat loss that is sustainable. And yes, you can eat chocolate! Make a positive change today that will your future happier self will thank you for. The program is open for registration NOW and we would love to have you on board. Read more about my nutrition group HERE.