Print Beth Hersh, RD, LMNT

Have you ever thought that food could be good, bad, or ugly? I frequently hear from my patients that they were “bad” or “good” because they ate a certain food. Somehow, we’ve equated our self-worth with what we eat. If we eat foods that aren’t “allowed” on our diet, then we are bad, bad, bad! And since we’ve eaten the “bad” food then there is no point in continuing to eat the “good” food, and now we feel “ugly” about ourselves and stop following the diet. 

One way to change this mindset is to look at food more objectively. What is the nutritional worth of this food? Is this food going to provide the nutrition I need to get through my day and help me accomplish my goal for weight loss or weight maintenance? The bottom line, is this food worth it? Even if the food doesn’t have much to offer nutritionally, does it mean you can never eat the food again? I would say no, but be mindful of how often you eat the nutritionally empty food item. You aren’t a bad person for eating the “bad” food. 

Instead of putting you and your food in “good” and “bad” categories, put the food into categories based on their nutritional value. There are different systems out there to help you. At Hy-Vee stores, they have the NuVal system that rates the nutritional value of the food using a scale of zero to 100. You could also use the Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right system that Dr. Dolgoff has created for kids, but can also be used for adults. There are also the Eat This, Not That books that help you in making lower calorie choices.

Find a more objective system to help grade your food choices. Stop feeling “ugly” if you make a “bad” food choice and stop grading your self-worth on your food choices.



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