Health & Food

Confused Day Tuesday; Good Foods vs. Bad Foods

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This is the mind of a typical American consumer.

Chocolate bars are bad, green spinach is good.

But wait…I heard chocolate is good because it has antioxidants and might help prevent heart disease.  And I also heard green spinach is bad, because of the oxalates that bind iron.  So, I guess I’ll forgo the spinach and eat the candy bar instead.

High fructose corn syrup is bad, agave nectar is good.

But wait, fructose is bad, and agave nectar has about twenty percent more fructose than agave.

I guess I’ll just eat the fake stuff.

But wait, I heard the fake stuff causes cancer……

I guess I’ll just eat fruit for my sugar, but wait…fruit has too many calories.

Margarine is good, butter is bad.

Wait, no, butter is better, margarine has trans fats.

Shoot, butter has cholesterol and saturated fat.

I guess I’ll use that spray butter instead.

But wait, the spray butter has chemicals, it will cause cancer.

I guess I’ll just use canola oil for cooking, but no, I heard canola oil was mad from something strange and I shouldn’t eat it.

I’m sticking with the candy bar.

Source: iPhoto.com

Sure, this is a very hypothetical rambling of thoughts, but this is seriously the kind of stuff I hear from people!  Now, I’ll be honest, I have some of these same thoughts at times, but thankfully I’ve learned to put them to rest and just enjoy what I eat.

The truth is, I don’t consider any foods good or bad.  Sure, a donut in the morning isn’t the best choice, but it’s not a bad choice, unless you do it often!  I got this from the USDA dietary guidelines;

There is no such thing as a bad food, only bad food patterns.

A donut isn’t necessarily bad, unless you eat them often.  And please, don’t be a smart elic and say “ok, well I’ll eat a donut once a month, and then cinnamon rolls and Pop-tarts the other days”…… that’s obviously not a good idea.

And how about this fun little phrase that many dietitians (including myself, I’ll admit….) like to tell people;

Everything is ok, in moderation.

If you think about it, what the heck does this mean?!   Moderation to you might be completely different than moderation to me.  Let’s face it, having ice cream and a beer every single night of your life is fine, if you can make it fit appropriately into your meal plan.  Most American’s should only eat/drink about 100-200 “extra calories/discretionary calories” a day, according to the USDA guidelines, and if you can make a beer and ice cream fit into your extra calories, then do it!  But you have to remember that those extra calories also account for the extra sugars you get in your sodas and the extra fat you add to your garlic bread.  So…..you may have already reached that extra 100-200 calories throughout the day, you just don’t know it.

Bottom Line: There really isn’t any such thing as a bad food.  You should not call foods good and others bad, but perhaps call some good, and others better.  A food does become bad if it’s something that you know isn’t giving you any health benefits (ie: potato chips, ice cream, butter, margarine, syrup, mochachinos) and you are eating them in excess of what your body needs.  So, lets re-write the above situation;

Chocolate bars are a good choice, green spinach is a much better choice.

High fructose corn syrup and agave nectar are both added sugars, and I should watch my intake of both.  I really enjoy agave nectar, so I’ll add it to my oatmeal because a little goes a long way.  Later in the day, if I think I’ve had enough added sugars, perhaps I’ll switch to the fake stuff, because I feel confident that I don’t use a whole lot, and it won’t hurt me.  Or heck, even better, I’ll have an apple and peanut butter for my sweet craving!

Margarine tastes good, but I think I’ll have butter today.

They both contain things that I want to limit in my diet, so when I use them I will be careful to stick to the serving on the label.

Oh, life is so good now that I don’t worry about foods being bad or good. I will now have less stress and be healthier overall Here’s a tip:  turn your “bad foods” good foods into better foods by adding extra nutritious ingredients, such as with these Walnut Oat cookies.

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