Have you ever eaten something that you thought was bad and immediately thought to yourself, “How can I get my body back in shape and make up for bad food?”
This is one of the most common phrases I hear as a registered dietitian.
Unfortunately, putting back what you ate or making up for something that is not healthy or gives you the results you hope for is not recommended.
But if you had that thought or took action to “undo” eating food that you thought was bad, it is perfectly understandable why you thought this was what you should be doing.
Many messages about food and nutrition are about being 100 percent perfect at all times. and the list goes on.
Now you might be wondering why resetting is not the best way to deal with the situation in this case and what should I do instead? Read on and we’ll dive into it!
Why Resetting Your Body Isn’t Necessary (and How It Can Harm Your Health and Goals in the Long Term)
The concept of resetting and making amends for bad food comes from a concept called food morality, which describes food as either “good” or “bad”.
In general, nutritious foods are often categorized as “good” while more enjoyable foods are categorized as “bad”.
The problem with the concept of eating ethics is that it can start to snowball and make your relationship with food more difficult.
When we label foods “good” and “bad”, foods become black and white, right and wrong, and the foods we eat (or do not eat) determine how we feel.
For example, when we make “good” decisions, we may feel proud and confident. However, when we make “bad” decisions, we can feel shameful and guilty.
This, of course, leads us to try to avoid or limit foods that fall into the “bad” category.
But because we are human, we often cannot – and for good reason! Often times, the foods in the “bad” category are really enjoyable and are foods that we really want deep inside, which is absolutely fine and to be done wisely!
These dietary rules and the hard lines of right and wrong make us feel constantly at war with ourselves. We tell ourselves we shouldn’t be eating the “bad” foods, but we know we really want them, so we will eventually have them. Ultimately, this leads to the fact that we want to reset ourselves and even want to compensate for “bad” foods.
However, these thoughts and behaviors can often get mixed up, leading to an unhealthy relationship with food and your body, and ultimately damaging your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Are some foods not really good and some really bad?
Now is the time when you might say to yourself, “Well, Erica, certain foods are not good for me and I shouldn’t be eating them. “.
This is where we can get into trouble and the unbalanced nature of the all-or-nothing cycle begins.
The all-or-nothing cycle
The Balance Spectrum is a tool that we use here at Nutrition Stripped to describe the balanced eating cycle. On the one hand we have enjoyment and on the other we have food. They come together somewhere in the middle – this is where we find balance. However, at both polarizing ends of the spectrum, we have the “all-in” and “all-out” ends of the spectrum that we want to avoid.
If you are unfamiliar with our Balance Spectrum tool, you can download our free guide which will walk you through in more detail!
When we try to compensate for this, we end up doing what we call “pendulum swing” in the Balance Spectrum. We move quickly from the enjoyment end of the food spectrum to the “all-in” end of the diet.
The “all-in” ending can look like another restriction on “bad” foods, calorie counting, macro counting, strict eating rules and meal plans. All in an attempt to make up for bad food.
But what do you think happens if we spend too much time on the “all-in” end of the spectrum? You guessed it, we’re about to swing back to the “all-out” end of the spectrum.
Imagine a pendulum here. Eventually, if we pull too hard in one direction, the pendulum will inevitably swing harder and faster all the way in the opposite direction.
The “all-out” ending can look like binge eating, excessive indulgence, a lack of control over eating with little or no consideration of diet.
What we are describing is the all-or-nothing cycle.
What to do instead of ingesting bad foods and catching up on them
We now know that classifying food as “bad” and trying to consume it creates an unbalanced, negative relationship with food.
What do we want to do instead?
Remove morale and appreciate both ends of the equilibrium spectrum. We want to value food, all food, for exactly what it is.
We want to remind you that food is just food. It is either food, enjoyment, or a combination of both. There really is no such thing as good or bad foods.
Once we are able to do so, we can make food choices that feel true and right to us. We no longer feel compelled to catch up on bad food. We are able to glide with ease on the Balance Spectrum instead of swinging back and forth rigidly and irregularly like a pendulum from one polarizing end to the other.
Eating this way is exactly what we teach in our mindful eating method. We teach you how to use our Balance Spectrum every day to reflect and act consciously and mindfully in order to create the right balance between nutrition and enjoyment.
We’ll walk you through the steps to healing your relationship with food and show you how to build a new relationship that will enable growth, stability, and support.
You can take a look at our free workshop to learn how to be more balanced in your food choices so that you can become free from eating and dieting obsessions, maintain a balanced weight, and maintain a positive relationship with food and your body.