Categorizing foods as “good” or “bad” will not help you lose weight, dieticians have warned.
Putting certain foods on a pedestal doesn’t help you lose weight or improve your health, and may increase your risk of developing eating disorders, according to a recent controversy written by clinical dietitian Shyla Cadogan.
She explains that all foods have beneficial qualities, even if they only provide energy when you’re hungry. And studies show that individual foods don’t predict poor health outcomes, but rather diets as a whole.
Worse yet, binary views about food are associated with compulsive behaviors, which can lead to weight gain.
“A pattern of restricting all cravings is the quickest way to reach a cycle of compulsive restriction,” says Cadogan.
Dietitians say all foods are healthy in moderation and putting one on a pedestal can lead to binge eating, which increases the risk of weight gain.
She adds that including cravings in your diet “takes away the desire to always want them and possibly binge at some point.”
What’s more, she writesGuilt and stress resulting from negative self-talk like “I’ve been so bad this week” can do more harm to dessert in moderation, increasing the risk of eating disorders that cause someone to restrict food and even starve themselves.
Other experts have told DailyMail.com that they echo Ms Cadogan’s concerns about the number of Americans adopting this attitude towards food.
Kathleen Lopez, a registered dietitian practicing in New Hampshire, said, “Each of us has an individual biochemistry, culture and genetic makeup that means we react to foods differently, and will or will not eat certain things.”
The holiday season often brings feelings of temptation toward unhealthy foods like pastries and starches, but labeling certain foods as “good” and “bad” denies the fact that foods should be nourishing for both body and soul.
Food is neither good nor bad. They either work for you or they don’t!’
Eliminating an entire food group to lose weight, whether it’s carbohydrates, sugar, or ultra-processed foods, rarely works.
And this has been backed by science.
In 2012, researchers at Tel Aviv University found that obese adults who ate a protein-rich breakfast and a dessert later in the day lost the same amount of weight as those who didn’t eat dessert.
What’s more, they continued to lose weight after the eight-month study ended, unlike those who didn’t eat desserts. Experts say this is because eating a large candy satisfied cravings, making volunteers less likely to snack later in the day.
Moralizing food also carries serious mental health risks.
It is a major risk factor for eating disorders, as well as clinical eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
Eating disorders lie on a spectrum between normal eating and an eating disorder and typically include a restrictive eating pattern, compulsive eating, or irregular eating patterns.
Experts highlight that eating disorders also increase some of the same risks that come with eating large amounts of highly processed, fatty and sugary “bad” foods, such as heart disease, digestive problems, high blood pressure, weight gain and stroke.
Mrs Cadogan said: ‘If you beat yourself up because you ate “bad” food, you are harming yourself more than the food itself.
“You put pressure on yourself to have the ‘perfect’ way of eating, something that will never happen and is simply not practical.”
Experts say people with underlying medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or obesity, will be encouraged to avoid added sugars and saturated fats.
But dietitians say you shouldn’t necessarily avoid these things completely.
Lopez says many Americans develop these attitudes toward food because of a fear of gaining weight, what some activists have called “fatphobia.”
Women tend to see themselves as overweight starting at a lower body mass index (23.7) compared to men, who tend to believe that overweight starts at a BMI of 26.1, which which suggests that women tend rate themselves as more overweight than they really are.
A 2012 study published in the journal Obesity reported that about 16 percent of women said they had been discriminated against because of their weight, up from 10 percent in 1995.