Disclaimer: This blog post is not meant for patients or clients with a medical diagnosis or food intolerance/allergy that involves the need for medical nutrition therapy.
In today’s world, diet culture has consumed an overwhelming part of our lives. Statements like “I can’t eat this because it has too many carbs” or “I have to workout harder to burn off what I just ate” are just a couple of common ones that we all hear often - or we may even find ourselves saying. Where did this mindset come from? What made us believe that banishing an entire food group would make us “healthy” or help us lose a mass amount of weight? The answer: Diet Culture!
What is "All Foods Fit?"
As a Registered Dietitian, my philosophy is “All foods fit.” Why? Because they can! We often restrict certain foods that we've decided are “bad” or “unhealthy,” just to turn around and break our diet and overeat the foods we initially restricted. Restriction leads to overeating which leads to more restriction and more overeating. When you believe that your only opportunity to eat a "forbidden" food is now or never, you're much more likely to overeat those foods, even in the absence of hunger. It is a continuous cycle that we can’t break unless our mindset changes.
The truth is, when we make peace with the “forbidden foods," we are much less likely to overeat or have as much anxiety about eating them. When we give ourselves permission to eat ice cream, we will not be consumed with guilt. You may discover you don’t enjoy it as much as you thought and not finish the rest. On the other hand, you may find the ice cream is so delicious that it takes only half the ice cream cone to feel satisfied.
Research has shown dieting actually causes weight gain in the long term. This is because of the continuous cycle of restriction, breaking our diet, overeating, and restriction again. When we allow all foods in our diet, our bodies naturally crave moderation and balance.
Ask yourself: Would I feel good if I ate 10 apples in one sitting? (Hint: probably not.) Would I feel good if I ate 10 Oreos in one sitting? (This one is most likely also a no.) Variety and moderation is key. When our bodies learn to balance and consume all foods, we gain a greater sense of peace and respect for our body and its natural capabilities.
Yes, food is fuel for our bodies, but it's also meant to be enjoyed and give us pleasure in life. We all need play in our lives, whether that means taking a vacation from work, going to the movies with friends, or enjoying an ice cream cone on a summer night.
Consider this - instead of labeling food as “bad,” try using the word “play." Food has no moral value of good or bad. If we only worked or went to school without any break, surely we would be burnt out, right? Just as we need balance in other areas of our lives, we need balance and play when it comes to food. Eating only "healthy" food can elevate the risk of eating becoming disordered. Play food simply exists for our enjoyment. Even if it has fewer nutrients than other foods, it still provides us with energy and sense of satisfaction.
Be an advocate for yourself and for your body. Trust your intuition. Make peace with food.
Jenna Koellner, RD, LDN is the Clinical Manager of Nutritiously Well Savannah and a Consultant Dietitian with Nutritious Lifestyles, Inc. After graduating with a BS in Dietetics and Nutrition and completing multiple clinical internships, she now helps clients achieve their goals and form a healthier relationship with food using an "All Foods Fit" philosophy. You can connect with Jenna on her website or on Instagram @jennasgoodeats!
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2017). The Intuitive eating workbook: ten principles for nourishing a healthy relationship with food. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.